Shrinkburkar super cutter

If you are not of a technical woody bent click here now, but if you would like to find out about the industrial making of shrink pots, read on …

Once we’ve got over the tedious parts of making a green wood tube

And smoothed down the rough edges left by the gouge …

(Here I’m using the knife in the vice technique), OK all done, ready for the groove for the base:

And now … the Sean Hellman shrink pot base groove cutter kit (I’m sure he’ll have a snappier name for it!)  Sean will be supplying a knife blade, handle and nut (or the complete croze, I read), check this out here: Sean Hellman: Shrink pot, and a shrink pot croze.  All you need to do is to mount the knife on a baton and the handle in a base board, thusly:

The idea is that the cutter can be moved up and down by loosening the handle and then tightening it in place so that the top of the base groove can be cut accurately.  Traditionally this is done with a knife, which works, but is slightly hit and miss and a little slow.  If you offer up your shrink pot tube and rapidly whizz it round against the knife, so …

an accurate 90 degree cut in the inside of the pot results.  You can see from this photo that I used a conventional screw to fix the knife blade and two of the Manchester variety.

I then used a converted marking gauge to enlarge the cut into a groove

The end is a cross-section of a cuboid and more like a turning chisel than anything:

And the result is a square ended slot with a sloped profile to help with inserting the base:

And here’s the base with is a loose fit here, but this morning is tightening up nicely.

The base is ash and the main tube is sycamore, I’m not sure sycamore is my preferred option – I bust one while doing the final inside smoothing.  I think the radial strength is a bit lacking as there are many small medullary rays.  On the other hand silver birch can be carved much thinner and is really strong.

And now as a counter stroke to the horrible green shades of the workshop – thanks to the green tarp I was obliged to swap for the white one – a gratuitous frothy picture of the Wharfe


Whilst I was dinner monitor last evening, making pizza, I noticed on the olives packet a note that a cocktail stick is included.  Funny, you’d think more than one person would be eating them – surely not meant to share the cocktail stick?  Anyways, it was a nice turned stick, I wonder if it’s bulk production from Mark Allery’s contact in Vancouver?

5 thoughts on “Shrinkburkar super cutter

  1. Neat!, I wanted to make some too once.. but I haven come around too it. Well I have some tips now.

  2. From Leo:
    Submitted on 2011/05/12 at 2:51 pm
    Hi there.

    I was intrigued by your shrink pot article. I’ve only made two of these in the past and think they are lovely, what a simple and effective way to make a vessel. I used a small v tool to cut the groove but have always felt it inadequate. I see Shaun’s invention is pretty useful but have bought myself a cutting gauge to do that bit… but then I see your adaptation of the cutting gauge! Wow, that works! I was wondering what metal you were using for the cutting edge, does it literally ‘scrape’ the wood away or does it cut? How hard was it to convert the marking gauge? Sorry for all the questions! but seeing your blog has already answered a lot of my ponderings!

    Kind regards


    • Leo,

      The cutter I made is from a broken woodworking chisel I was given. It is definitely tool steel as I couldn’t touch it with a hack saw (even after I’d been messing around with it on the grind stone to get the dimensions right.) I guess it is really a scrape that the tool does, but the deep cut from Sean’s tool gives it a clean edge for inside the pot. The sloping cut is a little rough as it is kind of shearing the wood fibers, but then what isn’t hidden by the base is under the pot.

      Hope this helps,


  3. Very nice, I like the natural logs the best compared to the shaved, they just look like log sections, so it’s a nice little surprise inside.

    I’ve a leather beer stein from a renaissance fair that has a wood bottom, it is sealed with wax and has been beer tight for ten years and thoroughly tested.

    Were I live quaking aspens are common. I use the standing dead, and often burnish the outside to a glossy finish with a piece of hardwood, dry the fibers compress and don’t rebound.

    Not a shrink pot, but another way of arriving at a similar container is to cut a cant from a log, cut a section from the cant to be used as the bottom, fasten the slabs back together around the piece of cant. Gives a square hole in a round log, but you could chisel the slabs round stopping where it meets the bottom, and you can do your chiseling before putting it all back together, or at the very start you could cut sections above and below the cant to be fashioned into lid and bottom with a mortise and tenon fit.

  4. Hah, not those, but i did once make a set of picks with a miniature wineglass on the top of each. It is a bit big for my regular nanoturning though, felt like full-size turning when i did them.

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