Banksia Nut Vase

The Banksia tree grows in Australia and produces unique looking nuts.  The nuts are harvested and sold as exotic blanks for wood turning.  I have seen these in various woodworking stores so I thought that I would give it a try.  I was surprised when I cut into the nut so I took a few photos of the process.


Preparing the Blank

When I cut the ends off at the band saw, a lot of reddish, brown fuzz flew out of the nut.

Cut End

Here is a close-up of the band saw cut revealing the hidden fuzzy stuff and the beautiful grain pattern of solid material.

Emerging Fuzz

When I started turning the nut I was impressed with it’s hardness. My chisels are very sharp yet I had difficulty cutting the Banksia nut. You can see the layer of fuzz just under the surface.

Layers of the Nut

A tapered slice reveals how the nut interior is arranged. Under a scaly surface the reddish brown fuzz is hidden in a thin layer followed by solid material. The seed pod holes go nearly to the center. The fuzzy stuff lying on the lathe bed and banjo flew nearly 15 feet and made a huge mess in my workshop. I used local dust extraction and a powered air purifying respirator to protect my lungs.

More Layers

Here is another progress photo clearly showing the layers of the nut.

Completed Turning

Here is a look at the completed turning before re-mounting it to finish the base. I tried using carbide insert tools during the turning process because the nut was so hard. It took a lot of smoothing and sanding to get it to this point.

Finished Banksia Nut Vase

The completed turning was given a few coats of spray lacquer for the finish. I must admit it has eye appeal but I probably will not turn any more of these beasts.