I met with David Marks while he was still in the early stages of his greatest woodturning project (yet!).  He showed my the specialized lathe tools he uses for very large hollow vessel turnings and some of his woodturning tricks!  He also explained his amazing methods for storing, drying and stabilizing wood for his wood turning projects.


David Marks Woodturning Video Presentation

The scale of this woodturning project is amazing! The blank for this turning project weighed 400 pounds!  Even the tools he used to turn it were oversize, the boring bar all by itself weighs 125 pounds!

Sensei by David J. Marks

David was one of only twenty people who were invited to present at the 30th annual American Association of Woodturner’s Symposium.  This was quite an honor and he wanted to make a special piece for that.  Well, he sure did!

David Marks Sensi Hollow Vessel Wood Turning Project

His deadline for this piece was to have it completed in time for The symposium was in June of 2016 so he only had a few months to get 400 pounds of wet wood turned, dried, finished, and rubbed out and shipped from California to Boston.

David’s incredible method for drying wood includes boiling it in a pot of water and soaking it in alcohol.  This surprising method is very effective in preventing warping, checking, and cracking.  Not only does this produce a great result, but it does it very quickly!

The magnitude of this project is much bigger than it appears and it took David over 1000 hours to complete it. That by itself amazes me.  My thinking goes something like this: If it takes a guy like David Marks a thousand hours then I can’t even imagine how long it would have taken someone like me!

The end result was a true masterpiece. David named the piece Sensei.  Sensei means “Teacher” in Japanese and he chose that name because he learned so much from this project.

Top of Sensei has hand chased threads

David says he decided to title this piece “Sensei” because it means teacher in the Japanese Culture and this vessel taught him one hell of a lot!!

The completed vessel on the stand with the lid is 57 inches tall. The footprint is 22 inches in diameter.

Materials starting from the top down:

  • Betel nut
  • African Blackwood
  • Quilted Mahogany from “The Tree”
  • African Blackwood, textured on the outside and hand chased threads on the inside
  • Snakewood, one of the rarest woods in the world.  The snakewood is segmented with veneers of Holly.
  • Ebony, segmented with veneers of Holly
  • Spalted, figured, Big leaf Maple for the hollow vessel (32inches deep)
  • Snakewood for the caps on top of the legs
  • Wenge and Maple bandsawn and planed and drum sanded down to 1/32 inch thick at the feet. There are 11 layers of wenge and maple all tapered.
  • Wenge segmented with Holly veneers

If you are looking for a showpiece for your living room or your corporate headquarters then you are in luck because, remarkably, this piece is still available.

Inquiries can be made by emailing him at: david@djmarks.com

David wrote an extensive and very interesting article about this piece and I strongly encourage you to check it out!