Fascinated with the form of the tripot, and interested to see what was involved in making one, I started my own. I couldn’t think of a better way to understand and appreciate it than to make one myself.
In my first two articles about making my tripot, I showed how I shaped most of the interior and exterior. For the remainder of the shaping, there were no shortcuts – what was required was manual carving and sanding.
I removed the tripot from the lathe, then I used carving tools to remove as much extraneous material as I could between the bases of the three pots. I used only my fingertips as a guide to tell me where material still needs to be removed, since they were not only the most convenient measuring tools, but of the exact accuracy required.
My smallest veining gouge, a #11/1 (severity of sweep and width, in millimeters) was useful in helping define the separation between the two pots, and the joint was further refined with skew chisels which were better able to create a precise corner.
Because the center point where the three pots meet is recessed when viewed from the bottom, this means that to carve into this area is in fact against the grain. Of course, this makes it difficult to make clean and controlled cuts. My solution to this problem was to use micro scorps to shape this area. The scorps can cut on the draw stroke, so I was able to do much of the carving in the recess with the grain.
To blend the surfaces, I continued the shaping process with abrasives, starting at 80-grit and progressing through 180. Although hand sanding may be tedious it is a vital part of the process in creating a fine product and I actually find it relaxing and meditative.
At this stage, when it seemed like I was ready for finishing, I stopped and examined the tripot from all angles under my task light. I checked all surfaces again with my fingertips for any flat spots, high points, or defects.
I went back and fixed the deficiencies that I found. I tested a finish on a scrap of the same material, then applied it to the tripot using a foam brush, and rags to wipe off the excess.