The only thing I like better than turning bowls out of wood, is turning bowls out of free wood! Throuought the summer trees fall down. Im constantly looking for nice pieces carelessly thrown out.
The only bad part about it is they are always wet. Wood has a high percentage of water stored in the trunks and can take years and years to dry in log form.
I let my logs dry outside off the ground I put a tarp over them to keep the rain off, but other than that they sit for a year. At that point you should see a natural split forming in the ends. I used a hatchet and sledge hammer to speed up the job following the natural split. I usually get two nice half logs. Then using a hand saw , chain saw or bandsaw cut them into the bowl blanks. Try and keep the length a little longer than the width of the log half.
Step 1: Prepare and mount your blank
The blank needs a way of being mounted to your lathe. This can be done a hundred different ways. I use a 3" (stock) faceplate that came with the lathe as well as a Nova G3 4 jaw chuck.
The first thing you need to do is prepare the face of the cut side of the log for turning. Just get it as flat as possible. Then center your faceplate on the log and using a center punch mark the holes needed to screw the faceplate to the blank
remove the chuck and drill your holes. The depth of the hole will vary depending on the length of screws you use. Note: do not use dry wall screws for this. Only use wood type screws!
After the holes are drilled it's time to mount it to the faceplate. This is as simple as screwing it to the blank. Then mount it to your lathe.