Project Tutorials

Turning a Simple Bowl

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Truing outside after reversing

True the wood surface and shape the bowl profile now. If the bowl runs perfectly true after reversing in the chuck you only need to turn enough to make sure you have the finished shape and surface you want. The bowl rarely runs perfect for me when I reverse so I save the finish cuts until the bowl tenon is in the chuck.

Shear scrape

Shear scraping to remove any torn grain. I leave the tailstock in for support until time to start hollowing. With cross grain turning the wood could split parallel to the face of the chuck if a big catch occurs or when turning large heavy bowls without the tailstock for support.

Finished surface check

Clean cut wood surface. I have the outer shape I want so the hollowing can begin.

Start of hollowing

Set the tool rest so the center of the gouge, with the handle horizontal, hits the bowl center or slightly below. If the gouges tip hits, above center, the handle will have to be raised to cut the center and that gets uncomfortable if your lathe spindle height is already high.

Start hollowing at the center and work to the outer edge in steps. The flute of the gouge faces the direction of cut.

Hollowing progressing

The bevel of the gouge points in the direction if the cut. The flute of the gouge is rolled back slightly up to allow the cut to come off the lower edge near the center of the gouge.

More hollowing cuts

Once a step is cut in the surface of the wood it acts as a stop to keep the gouge from trying to catch and run to the outer diameter of the bowl edge. Push or sweep the gouge toward the center. Come back to the top of the bowl; make a cut closer to the outer edge and sweep to the center again.

Hollowing even more

Continue hollowing the bowl until you get close to the wall thickness you want in the top area of the bowl. Leave the bottom section of the bowl thick at this stage.

Lathe rotation reversed hollowing

I reverse the lathe rotation to cut the top of the bowl wall. This brings the tool handle back over next to my body for more comfortable turning and better tool control.

Shaping the rim

Using a pulling cut to round the rim of the bowl.

Measuring wall thickness

Checking wall thickness.