Project Tutorials


helix image 1

This project is in remembrance of Phil Wall who taught me how to do this project over the internet. I had hoped he would some day be putting this information on his own site but since that is no longer possible so I will provide the information here

Click image for enlarged view


Helix turning 2

I start with a cross grain oriented blank between centers. The heart of the log is on the headstock side and the bark side is to the tailstock. The wood I am using is pecan. The heart has a soft rotted area I will remove later. I have already rounded this piece to rough shape and turned a tenon to fit in the chuck. I always orient the blank with the side receiving the tenon on the tailstock side because it allows me more room for tool use and I am right handed so it feels more natural while turning.

I will be turning a round bottom bowl with uniform wall thickness of about 5/16 for the start of this project. There are other variations the bowl shape could be turned to but I will start with the basics and leave further exploration for another time.

Helix turning 3

The blank gripped in the chuck. I can now refine the shape. I want a smooth flowing spherical shape.

The tailstock is left in place for support until it is time to remove the wood in the bowl center.

Helix turning 4

The side ground gouge reaching in close to the chuck in a shear-scraping cut.

Helix turning 5

Once away from the chuck the nose of the gouge can be turned around and proceed with a good shear cut to the rim.

Helix turning 6

Taking a fine bevel rubbing cut to finish the shape up to the rim. Check the blank for any torn grain areas and remove them with a freshly sharpened edge and light cuts before proceeding to hollow.

Sand the outside now while the surface is still running true.

Helix turning 7

Start hollowing with the tailstock still supporting the blank. A big catch in a cross grain oriented turning can split the wood at the tenon, it is safer to leave the tailstock as support until it gets in the way of further hollowing.

The gouge is removing the cone of wood from smallest to largest diameter. This cut is easier than cutting the opposite direction because the gouge does not have to cut into unsupported endgrain.

Helix turning 9

Start turning the rim to thickness. The bevel is aimed in the direction of cut. The start of the cut on the flat area of the rim is the hardest part, once a shoulder is cut the bevel can contact to keep it from skidding across the surface the cut is a simple push toward the bowl bottom.

Helix turning 10

The center section can be removed using the same cutting action as the inner bowl wall. Use the waste wood here as practice for removing the very center of the bottom without leaving a nub or depression.

Helix turning 11

Check the wall thickness. Once the desired rim thickness is achieved continue to the bottom in steps of about an inch at a time until finished. I have a thickness of about 5/16.

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