In this project, I show how to make a simple walnut bowl. Watch the video for more details or keep reading to see all of the steps:
Step 1: BACKGROUND
I recently picked up a wood lathe. I've always wanted one, and finally pulled the plug. I've been trying my hand at a few turning projects in the last few weeks, and I've been liking the bowl-creating process especially. I had some walnut on hand that was about 2" thick, so I found a piece that I thought would work and took it to the lathe to try out.
Step 2: TOOLS & MATERIALS
Step 3: WOOD BLANK
I started off by cutting out my blank. It was about 7" x 7" and after I found center and secured the faceplate, I cut off excess weight in the corners to make it more like a circle when I started. I like to use a large compass to find the largest circle possible out of the blank. That way, I know right where to cut the corners. I use a bandsaw for this typically, but sometimes, I just take it over to the table saw and cut off the sharp corners, turning it more into an octagon.
If you start with at least an octagon shape, it makes it much easier to get the blank round. You don't have any of the sharp corners that are prone to catching your tools.
Step 4: ROUGH OUT
I started by roughing out the blank. I just wanted to get it into round so it was more balanced while spinning. Once I got it into round, I added a tenon on the underside of the bowl. This would later be used to turn the piece around and be held by the chuck, so I could finish the inside of the bowl.
Step 5: SHAPE OUTSIDE
I switched from the square carbide tool to the round one, so I could finish shaping the bottom of the bowl. the square tool can do some gentle sweeping curves on the outside, but the round tool is often need to blend them into nice, smooth curves.
Step 6: QUICK TIP
One thing to remember is that your cutting tool needs to be right at the center of your work piece. Adjust the tool rest height so you can dial this in exactly.
Step 7: SAND OUTSIDE
At this point, it is a good time to go ahead and sand the outside of the bowl.
Step 8: FLIP PIECE
Next, flip the piece around, and use the lathe chuck to grab the tenon that was turned onto the bottom of the bowl in an earlier step.
Step 9: TURN INSIDE OF BOWL
Now, we can start working on the inside of the bowl. Even though there is a lot of material to remove, remember to just take it slow. Don't try to remove too much at once, or you will get some tear out and it will be even harder to finish. I'm using the round tool again here to remove all of the material from the inside of the bowl.
Step 10: FINAL SANDING
After a little sanding on the inside of the bowl, it is time to add some finish. I finished the bowl with some mineral oil. I used the lathe to help me buff it into the surface of the bowl. I have been quite pleased with the finish the mineral oil leaves once buffed in like this.
One note: I don't have any shots of the finishing parts because I actually put this bowl back on the lathe after I thought I was done with it, and turned it down a bit more. I felt it was a little bulky, so I wanted to remove a little more from it. Not sure what happened to the footage.
Step 11: CONCLUSION
Overall, this was a very cool process. The cool thing is that if you don't like the way something turned out, you can always try turning it into a different shape. One thing to note though is that whenever you chuck a piece back up on the lathe, it is not likely to ever be in the same exact orientation again, so you will likely have to round it out again slightly. I think this is just the nature of the beast, but it has been the biggest thing for me to get used to.
Thanks for following along with this project and checking out the video! Let me know below if you have any comments or questions!