So you want to turn a bowl?

Side Grain Bowl Turning Cheat Sheet (from Bowl Turning Class)


1. Safety – Basic Class plus

  • Mount between centers, set tool rest, rotate workpiece and check speed (low) before you start the lathe

  • Stand clear of strike zone (if you can)

  • ABC (anchor, bevel, cut by twisting the gouge until it engages the wood)

  • Use sharp tools

2. Tools

  • Driver and Live Center

  • Bowl Gouge

  • Negative Rake Scraper

  • Parting Tool

  • Scroll Chuck

  • Jamb Chuck

3. Side Grain Bowl - grain runs perpendicular to lathe bed, always cut downhill

  • Cut outside of bowl from small to large diameter (from foot to rim)

  • Cut inside cut of bowl from large to small diameter (from rim to bottom)

4. Types of Gouge Cuts

  • Push cut

  • Pull cut

  • Shear scrape

  • Scrape

5. How to cut with a gouge

  • ABC - Anchor the tool against the toolrest and your hip, lightly rub the heel of the bevel against the wood with the flute closed, twist the gouge just enough to open the flute and begin cutting

  • Bevel indicates where the cut will go, front hand presses the gouge against the tool, back hand steers the bevel

  • Shift your weight from side to side to progress the cut, don’t move your feet

  • Ride the bevel (lightly) when cutting

5. Process

  • Lock blank between headstock and tailstock, set toolrest at 90 degrees to bed at tailstock end of blank, rotate blank to check clearance, check speed, stand clear of strike zone and turn on lathe.

  • True up tailstock end of blank, turn tenon (1/2” long, 2.25” wide, at 90 degrees to foot of bowl).

  • Shift toolrest (at 45 degree angle to bed) and shape outside of bowl, from foot to rim, leaving 1/2” or more space at base of tenon.

  • Mark top of bowl with parting tool.

  • Remove bowl, replace driver with scroll chuck, place bowl in chuck and tighten down firmly.

  • Engage tailstock, turn on lathe and check for true. Reshape outside of bowl if necessary until it runs true.

  • Set toolrest at 90 degrees to bed at tailstock end of blank, rotate blank to check clearance, check speed, stand clear of strike zone and turn on lathe.

  • True up tailstock end of blank (now the top of the bowl).

  • Disengage tailstock and move out of the way, and begin hollowing out bowl. For greenwood bowl, leave thick – 10% of diameter- to allow room to recut bowl after it finishes warping. Can take weeks to months to finish drying.

  • After drying, mount in a jamb chuck to recut tenon as it will have warped. Recut outside of bowl to true it up. Turn, mount in scroll chuck to re-cut inside of bowl. Sand inside and outside, then mount in a jamb chuck to cut away tenon and reshape foot. Sand bottom of bowl to remove last vestige of tenon.

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