Wooden bowls are beautiful and easy to make because they come straight from a log. There isn't any cutting or gluing, so the natural beauty of the wood can shine. Once you figure out how to use the lathe tools properly, it's really satisfying to watch the shavings pile up by your feet.
First, you need to find a good-sized log. After cutting it into a blank you mount it on the lathe and rough it out. Slowly, you shape it until it vaguely resembles a bowl. On your first try, anything that looks like a bowl is an accomplishment. With practice, you will be able to complete a bowl in a short afternoon by reducing sanding time and learning to hog out the inside quickly.
They also make great gifts, and luckily they're practically free to make. You just have to find a log!
WARNING: woodturning is addicting. You see, the spinning chunks of wood create a vortex that sucks money into it. You may be tempted to spend hours in the workshop, neglecting to eat or do homework.
With all that said, eating and doing homework are not nearly as fun as woodturning :)
And you can find deals on craigslist, too.
Step 1: Whatcha Gonna Need?
A lathe, quite obviously. (discussed on next page)
A faceplate to attach the rough chunk of wood
A chuck to do the inside of the bowl
A chunk of wood to put in the chuck
A bowl gouge
A drill for screwing in the face plate
And finally a good live center to put in the tailstock.
Other gouges are very useful but not completely necessary, although an inexpensive, small skew used as a scraper can be useful for the chucking up the bowl.
And you need either a bandsaw or a handsaw that can handle your log. You're going to need to cut it up a lot.
A finish for your bowl-I use the same finish i use on my cutting boards-its a mix of wax and mineral oil. I love this finish, but any moisture will leave spots.
A face shield or at the very least a pair of large safety glasses. You don't want to break your nose if a chunk comes flying off or if your bowl breaks. (See step 8)
A dust mask, preferably a respirator since sanding makes a ton of dust.
Than you need miscellaneous stuff like a broom and fan for the shavings :)