Introduction: Make a Five Cut, Big Bowl From an Eight Foot 2x4

Picture of Make a Five Cut, Big Bowl From an Eight Foot 2x4

This is called a five cut bowl because that is all the cutting needed to build one. The inner cut of the top ring is the outer cut of the ring below. You get four rings and a base that, when assembled, make a bowl. Each ring is cut at an increased angle which results in a curved bowl with tapered sides. I wanted to figure out just how big of a wooden bowl I could make from an standard 2 x 4 stud eight foot long. The answer is 18" in diameter and 6-1/4" tall. This Instructable will show how to do it.

Note: This Instructable has been selected for the 2 x 4 contest.

. If you liked it please vote for me.

Thanks

Step 1: Procure Wood and Prepare Stock

Picture of Procure Wood and Prepare Stock

I hate 2 x 4 contests where people will take a piece of really nice expensive piece hardwood and mill it to 1-1/2" by 3-1/2" (standard 2 x 4 dimensions) Worst yet is when they mill it to 2" by 4". I believe the spirit of the contest says it should be a stud grade 2 x 4. Here is the one I bought. You can still see the stamped markings.

MyStick

This is a whitewood kiln dried 2 x 4 that cost less than $3. I figure if I screw up then I can scrap it and start again. The only leeway I took is that I sorted through the pile to find one the was not twisted, had four clean edges, and only tight knots. I had it sawn in half so it would easily fit in my car.

When I got home I milled the two pieces to 1-3/8" by 3-1/4". They are now ready to be cut to size.

Step 2: Cut Pieces

Picture of Cut Pieces

There are six pieces with three being cut from each length of wood. See the attached plans for more detail. Using a miter saw, on each length of wood cut; one 18-1/2" with 8 degree tapers, one 17-1/2" with 31 degree tapers, and one 13-1/2" with 45 degree tapers.

Step 3: Glue, Clamp, and Sand

Picture of Glue, Clamp, and Sand

Clamping culls and clamps are used to glue the four middle pieces together. After an hour, glue on the outer two pieces. Give it a couple of hours and then plane or thickness sand the large piece to 1-1/4" thick. At the same time you sand or plane this blank, also plane a scrap piece of 2 x 4, at least 20" long, so it is the exact same thickness. This scrap will be used to make an angle gauge. You now have a big bowl blank.

Step 4: Draw Pattern

Picture of Draw Pattern

Find the center of the bowl blank and use a compass to draw five concentric circles. They will have radiuses of 9", 8-1/2", 7-7/8", 7-1/8", 6-1/4". You now have the pattern. (Error found, last radius changed to proper value. It is correct in the PDF).)

Step 5: Make Angle Guide

Picture of Make Angle Guide

The reason the angles were not given in degrees is because you can't be certain just how thick the bowl blank will be. It is supposed to be 1-1/4" thick. But would you throw it away if it was 1-3/16" or 1-7/32"? Maybe you want a thinner bowl and milled the wood to 1" thick. This would throw off the angles. Because the scrap piece is, by default, the same thickness as the bowl blank, making a very accurate angle is easy.

Take the scrap and cut four pieces; 5", 4-1/2", 4, and 3-1/2" long. Glue and clamp them together as shown in the photo.

After the glue has dried use a square to draw a straight line about 1/2" from the left. On the bottom edge mark five points on the right of the line at 2", 2-1/2", 3", 3-1/2", and 4". Draw five lines from these points to the top of the line. You now have an accurate angle guide. If you later decide to make another bowl the wood will not be the same exact thickness so you will have to make another guide. For that reason I usually give the guide to the person for who I am making the particular bowl. It helps them describe the construction of the bowl to their friends.

Note: After making this guide I found it was 4-29/32" tall, which means the bowl blank is 1-29/128" thick or undersized by 3/128". So instead of the bowl being 6-1/4" tall it will a bit over 6-1/8" tall.

Step 6: Set Band Saw Angle and Cut Rings

Picture of Set Band Saw Angle and Cut Rings

Use the guide to set the angle of the band saw table to cut the first circle. Then adjust the table angle for the second cut. This second cut will be the inside of the top ring and the outside of the ring below. Unfortunately to make this cut requires the top ring be severed. This is not a problem because the ring will be glued back together. Note that the cut is started with the grain. This is done to minimize the appearance of the cut. Also wood glued with the grain makes a better, stronger bond. Adjust the table for the third cut, fourth cut and finally the fifth cut. When completed you have four rings and a base.

Step 7: Glue Rings Back Together

Picture of Glue Rings Back Together

Use wood glue and clamps to join the rings back together. When dry remove the clamps and stack the layers to get a rough idea what the bowl will look like when completed.

Step 8: Stack Rings and Glue

Picture of Stack Rings and Glue

To assemble the bowl you will need some sort of bowl press. I used a pieces of 18" by 18" squares of plywood, some clamping culls, and clamps. The plywood is scrap for the construction site dumpster. The rings are pressed together, between the two pieces of plywood, with the clamps. The culls are not absolutely necessary but they do help apply pressure to the center on the bowl. The bowl is clamped upside down, starting with the top ring.

Place the top ring, upside down, into the clamp and apply glue. Place the second ring on top followed by the top piece of plywood. Attach clamps and press for 30 minutes. Open the press, add glue. add another ring, and press. Again wait 30 minutes and repeat for the fourth step. It seems that gluing all four at once would save time but it is hard to get all the rings aligned at the same time. Trust me on this. Glue one ring at a time.

This step is complete and four rings glued together. The base has not been attached ay this time because it is easier to sand the inside of the bowl without it.

Step 9: Sand Inside of Bowl

Picture of Sand Inside of Bowl

When removed from the press the general shape of the bowl is apparent but the inside surface will need to be sanded. Start with 60 or 80 grit sandpaper to remove any burn marks and sand the ring layers flush. When move up to 120 grit to finish. 120 grit is good enough for an oil finish. If a shellac and lacquer finish is desired then continue sanding at 150, 180, and 220 grit.

Step 10: Glue Base to Bowl

Picture of Glue Base to Bowl

Before gluing on the base, sand the base's surface that will be the inside of bowl with 120 grit sandpaper. Place the bowl in the press, apply glue, and add the base. Then close the press. This time instead of using the culls I cut the plywood in 19" circles and used clamps to press them together. A heavy weight was placed on top to apply pressure to the center of the bowl. Leave in press for 30 minutes. After finishing this step I find I prefer this pressing technique over the one previously shown.

Step 11: Sand Outside of Bowl

Picture of Sand Outside of Bowl

Sand the outside of the bowl pretty much the way

you sanded the inside. Also sand the bottom of the bowl.

Step 12: Round Edges

Picture of Round Edges

To give a more finished appearance the outside edge of the bottom of the bowl and the inside edge of the top of the bowl are rounded. You may decide you prefer the sharp edges of the bowl and if so, please skip this step. (Just a thought. This bowl would make a great enclosure for a woofer speaker and you would definitely not want to bevel the top inside edge.)

Start by marking lines 5/32" away on both sides of the edges to be rounded. I used a small compass as a marking gauge.

Bevel these edges up to these lines. This defines the rounding shape. (Sorry for the blurry picture.)

Finish rounding these edges with 120 grit sandpaper.

Step 13: Finishing

Picture of Finishing

Give the bowl a good once over final touchup sanding. As for finish the easiest is no finish at all and let the wood develop a natural patina. I would do this only if the bowl was a show piece and not to be used.

A bowl meant to be used will be handled and hands are oily. So a mineral oil / wax finish is perfect. It keeps dirt out of the pores and allows your hand oil to add to the finish. There are many formulas for wax oils mixtures available but I prefer to just buy it premixed.

Finish.

This finish is food safe and it is what I use on wooden toys I make for children. Just follow directions and your have a good utility finish in no time. Three coats should do it.

A show piece finish would be shellac or lacquer. This requires sanding the bowl up to 220 grit.

Comments

titchtheclown (author)2017-08-07

I didn't exactly follow your plan but I did get inspired by it. Maybe led astray might be a better description than inspired. Definitely off at a tangent anyway.

https://www.instructables.com/id/Band-Sawn-Bowl-Ukulele/

evybaby123 (author)2016-01-20

Really nice work!! You must have used the 104 5/8" 2x4 right? The cuts are too long for an 8 footer

Nope I cut a 48" in half and laid the pieces so the long side was on the left followed by long side in the right follow be long side on the left theae allowed me to recover a lot of the corner triangles.

Dave

At the bottom of the attached PDF, I show how the parts are laid out for best use of the wood..

warriorethos2 (author)2016-01-31

dave.vaness.79, great job on the bowl. Your instructions and pictures will make it easy for anyone to build a bowl. Any tips on maintenance of the bowl? I like that you said you make these as gifts and that you give the guides as well for talking points. Good luck in the contest.

If you give it an oil finish, occasionally give it a new coat. I like to use bread board and salad bowl finish. Mineral oil works too.

I would wipe it with a damp cloth but never submerge it to wash it. If you want to sanitize it just place it in a 200 degree oven for 10 minutes.

Thanks for the tip.

Mehmet TürkayÖ (author)2016-01-12

anan

dave.vaness.79 (author)2016-01-12

Kazap1951 graciously brought to my attention that I had an error in step 4. He was right and I repaired it. The last radius was stated as 6-3/4" where it should have been 6-1/4" The PDF had the right value, The error was not mathematical on my part but a mis-type I called this a problem of a loose nut on my keyboard (me). Still a listype of number is more serious than a mistype of words. Sorry if it caused anyone grief.

carrats (author)2016-01-10

Now if I only had a Tshirt that says I ? 2 Sand+y lol

carrats (author)2016-01-10

You got my vote! This is awesome... I just got a Miter saw for Xmas and I was looking for a project and this is perfect. Thank you! Sandy

StephenM24 (author)2016-01-05

I am a woodturner and have made several bowls like this. They can be similar to yours or very detailed. There is no limit to the variety of bowls you can produce with this method.

Here is an article if you want to take it to the next level.
http://www.craobhcuigdeag.org/wp-content/uploads/2...

carrats (author)StephenM242016-01-10

Thanks for that inspiring link! :)

mormor (author)2016-01-10

Very cool! I initially thought that you were going to turn it and was wondering why you made one flat blank and then you started on the angle cut markings and it dawned on me!

For a circle clamp like this you could use some threaded rods with nuts and big washers through the upper and lower clamping pieces and then simply tighten the nuts to clamp the two circular clamping pieces together, that should develop enough pressure to ensure a good glue joint I would think. The bigger the thread / rod the better.

Very neat I must say, I need to get myself a band-saw!

FlorinJ (author)2016-01-06

You know what I hate? When someone takes a nice round one and a half foot thick piece of a tree's trunk, of maybe another foot or more in length, puts it on a lathe and shreds most of it to build a vase or a bowl using not even a tenth of the volume of the original piece of wood. This design, in turn, is way more economic. Kudos.

Plus, given that wood glue is most often stronger than wood (especially light wood the sort of which you used), and that this design places fibers in all possible directions, I'd expect it to also be tougher and change shape and dimensions less when humidity and temperature change.

On the other hand: do you have any suggestion for those of us who don't have a band saw?

dave.vaness.79 (author)FlorinJ2016-01-07

You could use a saber saw or maybe even a sawz all. Harbor freight sells a saber saw for about $20.

For any single older women out there that want to meet age appropriate men, just go to Harbor freight, Wear a tee shirt the says "I like to sand" and you will meet all sorts of nice guys.

FlorinJ (author)dave.vaness.792016-01-07

Nah, I'm thinking of getting a scroll saw. A sawzall or jigsaw have thicker blades and don't cut as precisely. Less precise cutting means more sanding, and I'm a lazy bum, especially when it comes to sanding.

Plus, from what I can see Harbor Freight has no stores outside of the US.

dave.vaness.79 (author)FlorinJ2016-01-09

It is the lazy bums of the world that figure out how to do things easier. I salute you!

Hah, that's some hilarious advice.

But I bet it would totally work!

I met a family friend after she retired and she said she was interested in meeting men for companionship. I suggested she signup at the local high school or community college evening shop class and let the guys know she like to sand, and finish. When I saw her 6 months later she had taken my advice and now had 5 gentlemen friends.

itsmescotty (author)FlorinJ2016-01-07

Google 'bowl coring systems' which eliminates a lot of the center waste when bowl turning and gives you several nested bowls from that hunk of wood.

FlorinJ (author)itsmescotty2016-01-07

Quite expensive, even more so for a hobbyist using the tool only once in a blue moon. Plus, you'd still need a large lathe - another tool few hobbyists have. (Mine allows at most maybe 8" diameters, nowhere near the 18" of this bowl.)

most turners I know have large lathes

I have seen these and one guy in my wood working club has on those. He makes powls from redwood burl and doesn;t want to waste a bit of wood.

I've Never seen a burl on redwood. When I was a kid in CA everyone had redwood fencing - soft, boring, flawless red straight grain.

Bulldogfan123 (author)FlorinJ2016-01-06

I know what you are saying, but so much better than destroying the beautiful wood by burnin

FlorinJ (author)Bulldogfan1232016-01-07

Burning is OK - at least the wood gets used in a purposeful way, and heating with wood from responsibly managed, constantly renewed woods is more ecologically responsible than burning fossil fuel. Wood chips and sawdust, however, are simply discarded by many if not most hobby woodworkers, IME.

SherylinRM (author)2016-01-09

I voted for you because this is doable with a jigsaw and patience.

Thanks for a great article :)

Arghus (author)2016-01-06

i thank you for this , hope you win, great instructable

plwade (author)2016-01-06

Nicely done! Thanks so much for sharing. Now on my list of things to do :)

jeanniel1 (author)2016-01-05

Totally voted for your project. I especially love the minimalistic materials list, and the angle of the cuts explained! Bravo!

dave.vaness.79 (author)jeanniel12016-01-05

Thank you for the kind words.

michael.j.feierstein (author)2016-01-05

nicely done! I thought you were gonna use a lathe for this, I have never seen a bowl built this way before! you have my vote!

Thank you. You can use this technique to make oval bowls and make a baby cradle. It may take a 12 footer.

Make_This (author)2015-12-24

I totally agree w your 2x4 comment --"stud 2x4".

Nice bowl.

dave.vaness.79 (author)Make_This2016-01-05

When I am at the home center when I go to examine the 2 x4s I tell my wife I am going to commune with the other studs. She rolls her eyes.

dave.vaness.79 (author)Make_This2015-12-24

Thanks for the complement. It was also surprisingly easy to build/

drichard58 (author)2016-01-04

So what would you do if you wanted to adjust the size? Say you wanted smaller bowls? Could you use the guide, but start with smaller initial diameter?

If you made it smaller in diameter the proportions may lok wrong. Go read the polydraw tutorial and it will show how you can design a bowl of the exact size you want

itsmescotty (author)2016-01-05

I'm impressed! Especially with the simplicity of the fabrication then comes the examples and explanation. I initially expected another boring turned bowel project and was wondering, 'out of a single 2x4'? I twigged as soon as you said, "draw the pattern" and it all fell into place. I still expected it to be turned to be finished tho - with my skill at using a bandsaw I would need to turn it or spend HOURS sanding.

Congrats on the minimalist use of power tools to create an impressive bowl.

Jfieldcap (author)2016-01-05

Great job, and great instructable! You have my vote!

dollarseed (author)2016-01-05

You've definitely earned my respect. I have heard of this being done before, but nobody wanted to share their technique. Thank you

Eh Lie Us! (author)2016-01-05

Good god, man. this is pure magic. thank you for sharing!

Jack O The Shadows made it! (author)2015-12-31

Great instructable man. Mine didn't turn out as nice a yours (don't have a band saw and the wife wouldn't let me buy one) but I had fun doing it.

What kind of wood did you use and what kind of saw did you cut it with, If you said scrollsaw then go to my website www.scrollmania.com I think you will like what you see.

I made this with a cheap Homedepot 2x4. I would have used a scrollsaw but it was so frickin big. I used a bandsaw. My smaller bowls are made with a scrollsaw. Scrollmania has about six tutorials that will help.

Draw a side view of the bowl you want to make. I show it for this bowl in the pdf. It is important that the bevel be cut so the inside of the first bowl it the outside of another bowl. Example I want a 7" diameter bowl with 4 cuts. I want the lip to be 1/4" so that will be the first bevel. This make the first raduis 3-1/2" ans the second one 1/4" less than that (3-1/4') I will increase the bevel by 1/16" each time so the third radius will be 5/16" (1/4+1/16) less than the second radius. the thist with be 3/8 (1/4+1/16 + 1/16).

Draw you bowl's siddde view on a piece of graph paper. It will make more sense.

What kind of wood did you use and what kind of saw did you cut it with, If you said scrollsaw then go to my website www.scrollmania.com I think you will like what you see.

I used a standard pine 2x4. Stained it using gel food coloring so it's food safe and treated with butcher block oil. As for the saw, I used a jigsaw to cut the rings. I will definitely check out the scroll saw work though.

About This Instructable

71,464views

674favorites

More by dave.vaness.79:Tessellation Gecko PuzzleBuilding a Toy, Game, or Puzzle for Children in NeedQuick Knobs
Add instructable to: