A while back I made an Instructable DIY version of the popular secret wood rings. Since then I wanted to attempt a similar project on a larger scale. Here is my take on a wood and resin bowl.
Step 1: The Walnut Base
I started off with some 1" thick walnut slabs I had in the shop. These were all cut down to 1" wide strips.
I then passed them all through my thickness planer to get a uniform dimension. 1" thick and 1" wide.
If you stop at this point, you can make a very attractive walnut cutting board. OR, we can break out the sledgehammer and have a little FUN!
To achieve the splintered look, I took out some pent up aggression and whacked my way through a stack of walnut! A very satisfying process.
Here comes a bit of a design quandary. I could save a lot of resin if I were to glue up these pieces and turn them on the lathe. After they were rough turned I could then add my resin, saving having to pour very much resin much in the center. Now I would not only be locked into that shape but it would also add a LOT of steps to the process.
Step 2: Pouring the Resin
I opted to spend a little extra money on resin and save a lot of hassle with an overly complex setup. The truth is, I'm still under $40 for the resin used on this.
I mixed up about 30oz of polyester resin colored with epoxy pigment. It was poured in 12oz increments over 2 days time. Each batch of resin was mixed with less and less pigment each time. The hope was to achieve a gradient that would mimic the sky. I'm mostly happy with the end result!
One layer is poured, then allowed to cure for several hours until the next layer is poured. If you mix and pour too much at once the resin will overheat and crack, ruining the project.
After several days I had a bowl blank that measured 8" x 8" x 4". The block was completely cured and ready to be turned on the lathe.
Step 3: Making a Bowl!
Using my circle cutting jig at the band saw I removed the corners. This speeds up the turning process and allowed me to save some smaller pieces for future projects.
Turning an 8" bowl with this much polyester resin was a challenge. The resin is VERY brittle and hard not to chip out. Sharp tool and a steady hand is required.
I toyed with keeping the wood spikes but decided they were too pokey for a bowl
Hollowing is a SLOW process and took me close to an hour to completed. On an all wood bowl, this would take about 15-20 minutes...
I then cleaned up the resin rim with my carbide tools.
Step 4: Sanding Time!
The bulk of the work is done with 120grit paper. This smooths out curves and removed any leftover tool marks. After that, each grit just removes the last grits scratches. This photo is the result after sanding to 800 grit.
Next, I switched to my polishing pads. They start at 1500 and go up to 12000. I love my micro-mesh pads, but they gave me trouble on this project. Since I had to use them without water (so as not to ruin the walnut portion) they melted from the friction and began leaving marks on the resin. I was able to get to about 3600 grit before giving up on them.
So, I finished up with some plastic polish to further shine the resin.
Step 5: Close Ups!
I'm very happy with the result! Thank you very much for looking.