How to Make a Walnut Bowl

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About: I love making all kinds of things, with a bent toward woodworking. I do projects for clients, improvements around the house and even some furniture pieces. Follow along!

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

Drill & driver - http://amzn.to/2C0JDfa

Lathe - http://amzn.to/2oJkH6J

Sandpaper - http://amzn.to/2H6W4rl

Easy Wood Tools carbide cutters - http://amzn.to/2H6W4rl

Mineral oil - buy locally

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!

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    15 Discussions

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    deankosmac

    8 months ago

    Turning bowls really is one of the most soothing experience in workshop, but dusting them is not. Good job on both parts! Btw is the bottom of the bowl concave? It will not stand right if it isn't.

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    Bruceaulrichdeankosmac

    Reply 8 months ago

    Thanks for checking out the project! The bottom of the bowl is not concave. It has a flat spot where I sanded it, so it seems to stand fine. That was one part I kept having to test to make sure it would stand right.

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    deankosmacBruceaulrich

    Reply 8 months ago

    For now it stands, but in years it will not. Trust me, have many homemade woodturning items. Other thing that you can do when it will not stand right is stick those mini leggings which i don't prefer.

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    RalphR23

    8 months ago on Introduction

    You're not settling - don't worry. It's like would you want a Model T so you have to manually crank over the engine or do you want a newer car with seat belts and air bags, power steering, ABS etc. I prefer the newer/safer cars and easier to use and safer tools too.

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    RalphR23

    8 months ago

    Very nicely done - beautiful. Here's an honest comment: I was glad you used the EWT tools. There are times when the 'traditional' tools are needed but I find myself using the EWT rougher and finisher more often than other tools.

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    BruceaulrichRalphR23

    Reply 8 months ago

    That’s really good to know. Thanks! I often think I’m settling by using these with comments I’ve seen, so it is good to know they’re good tools.

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    seamster

    8 months ago

    Very nice result. Turning bowls is one of the most soothing and satisfying experiences. Congrats on the new lathe!

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    Bruceaulrichseamster

    Reply 8 months ago

    Thanks so much! Appreciate you taking a look and taking the time to leave a comment.

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    ClenseYourPallet

    8 months ago

    Beautiful bowl. I haven’t pulled that trigger yet but I hope to soon. Thanks for sharing your project

    1 reply