A Square Bowl




About: I've built houses, decks, custom cabinets, furniture of all types. Ive done furniture repair and restoration, residential and commercial remodels, restaurant seating and tables and hotel furniture. Ive been ...

In this instructable I will show you how to turn a square bowl. These make beautiful centerpieces and look very cool!

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Step 1: Grab Some Wood

You can use any type of wood you choose. Softwood/hardwood doesnt matter here as long as the wood is thoroughly dried.
I made one out of rough cut Maple and one rough cut Mahogany with Ebony stain.

Step 2: Prepare the Square Blank

I used the table saw to rip my board. I then used a joiner to smooth one face and one edge. After that I took it to my Table-saw to rip it to finished length. then Using a crosscut sled or miter gauge cross-cut it to the exact same width. You should end up with a perfect square.

Step 3: Mount It to Your Lathe

I marked center by making a line from one corner to the other on all four corners with my diagonal square. Next using my 3" face-plate, I marked all four mounting holes using a center punch.
get the screws and the matching drill bit. Tape off about 1/2" up the bit (maybe a little less), this is simply giving you a visual stopping point (stop when you get to the tape) You do not want to go too deep or use long screws.
After the holes are drilled place the faceplate in position. Now, screw it to your block of wood and mount the faceplat with the block of wood onto your lathe. It's a good time to sand all the edges as well. start with 80 and go up to 320 grit.

Moving on.

Step 4: Form a Chuck Recess

Now we need to for a recess for a chuck. but first we need to flatten it. Using my finishing tool I flattened the entire surface.
Now you can start cutting out the wood for the chuck recess. I only went about 1/4" deep and 2-1/2" in diameter.
Once you have the recess formed test it by mounting your chuck to it. If it all goes well sand the recess and around  it to 320 grit.

Now remove the face-plate from the lathe, unscrew it from the workpiece. Now mount the chuck to the recess and mount it to the lathe.

Moving on.

Step 5: Cut and Sand the Bowl

This fact that this thing has 4 corners rotating extremely fast is a bit scary not to mention dangerous. So be careful.
I started in the center and slowly work my way out towards the outside. Deeper in the center than the outside. remember, you are simply dishing it out  to for the inside of the bowl.
Once you are happy with the depth and the smoothness of the slope you can move your tool-rest to the other side of the bowl (the bottom). then form the bottom to your liking. Stop and look at the edges often to see how they look. You want the edges to be the same thickness all the way around the bowl.
Now its time to sand. You really do not want to sand the outside of the top and bottom while its on the lathe. So remove the workpiece from the chuck and sand it all the way up to 320 grit.

Step 6: Finish and Enjoy

I finished the Maple bowl with 1 coat of sealer and 2 coats of polycrylic (light sanding in-between). after its done polish it with some wax and hand polish.
Now its done. Most people think I made a bowl and then cut the edges to form a square. They never believe me when I tell them how I did it.
Thanks for looking, Enjoy.

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    28 Discussions

    the norm

    6 years ago on Step 6

    So making a bowl and then cutting it would be safer, but it takes some of the challenge out of it.
    I have made something similar, but I have legs coming down at the corners.
    Wacked my fingers a few times when I got careless. Wish I had a picture of one to show you.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Why do you not shape the bottom of the bowl while it is on the faceplate? I think this would be safer and give you better access. Just a thought.

    1 reply

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Good question. You could do it either way. I did the Mahogany bowl that way. I had plenty of access to either side either way. Personal preference I guess...


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Wow!!! Your creations are too beautiful! You make me want to learn how to do this stuff and buy equipment and try it out. You are skilled and have a great style also - these are gorgeous!

    3 replies

    The lathe is extremely versatile and even more addicting! I love my lathe and have NEVER had any regrets about that purchase. You should look locally for a woodworking supply store and take a simple class to try your hand. If you have any wood turners close by, you would be surprised at how friendly we are, and you would surely be invited to try it out.
    And thank you for your very special compliments. I really appreciate all of them.

    Thanks so much for the information. Is the lathe the main piece of equipment you use? My dad is addicted to tools and building things, etc. and I figured he might even have one - but no such luck! :) I will definitely check on taking a class around here. I love what you've been making - everything is so stunning - amazing how a piece of wood can be totally transformed!

    Not exactly. It depends on what I'm in the mood for I guess. Your Father, having a lot of tools would be helpful. You can do quite a bit of stuff with just a lathe but you will spend more in accessories than on the lathe its-self.
    If you want some more info on it I would be happy to answer any and all your questions. :)


    6 years ago

    Where's da "OMG, I FREACKIN' LOVE THIS!"-button!? :D