Steampunk Wooden Bowl

About: I am a 22 year old woodturner from Sydney. I have been wood turning for about 6.5 years and have completed my apprenticeship in cabinetmaking. I left my full time work to try and make it as a wood turner

Ive always liked the steampunk style and recently I saw a wood burning on a platter and someone else glue gears on a bowl. Although my wood burning abilities are pretty poor with my old $10 burner that is more like a soldering iron, I though I would give this a go. Timber is NSW rosewood and the gears were bought on ebay for about $2.50

Step 1: Turning the Back of a Bowl

There are many ways of fixing a blank to the lathe. Face plate, screw chuck, glue blocks or expanding on a recess. I find it quick and easy to expand on a recess drilled out by a 50mm forstner bit. Make sure its a good depth so that the blank rests on the shoulders of the jaws.

Using a bowl gouge, make a few pull cuts rubbing the bevel, from the inside towards the outside. After the pieces becomes a bit more balanced you can start increasing the speed. I like putting a foot on a pieces like this that fits my large 150mm jaws. Mark out a tennon about 154mm just so it is a bit oversized. Use a gouge to remove most of the waste around it and clean up the edge with a skew. Clean up the bottom with the gouge with a push cut.

I had some deep splits on this piece unfortunately so I had to do a few cuts and there was one that I had to leave a bit. The rustic design made it a little bit suitable on this piece but otherwise I would remove all splits and cracks, Another timber defect was a small rot pocket that I did have to fully remove.

Picture 10 shows the finish of cut and the difference between cutting with the bevel rubbing compared to scraping. As you can see, a cut with a sharp gouge is far superior to scraping and leaves less sanding.

With the shape I didnt want a full radius, but a gradual curve leading into a tighter radius in shape. This design was suggested by a gallery owner that said it adds more intrigue to a piece that a perfect radius.

Sanding is done with 120, 180, 240 and 400 grit abrasive. For jobs I lacquer, I dont go beyond 400 grit

Step 2: Turning the Front of a Bowl

Start by truing up the front with the gouge. Start with the flute closed to start the cut then open it up as you get of the edge. As you can see in the 2nd pic, I had to remove a lot of waste to get through most of the splits. This old rosewood had a lot.

Using the pencil mark the size of the rim. I tend to stick to the golden ratio of 5:8.

Hollow out the bowl using the bowl gouge, rubbing the bevel the entire way. Work from the outside towards the inside. Often on final cuts use a smaller gouge with higher speeds to get the cleanest results. Use a ruler to measure the depth. When sighting the ruler, make sure it is straight and that you can see the leading edge in line with the back edge.

Picture 5 shows the clean finish you should be able to obtain and 6 shows the type of shaving you should get from a clean cut with the bevel running.

The rim has to be flat for the gears to sit on well so when I sanded it, I used a block behind the abrasive to ensure it was perfect.

Step 3: Design and Burning

Before I started burning I laid out the gears in some lay outs i though could work to get an idea of space.

Using the computer (microsoft paint and word), I created a full scale picture of the rim. I added different pictures of gears that I liked to cover about 1/4 of the rim.

After printing out the picture and cutting it to a rough shape, I shaded in the back with a pencil. This give the same affect as graphite paper, which I would have used if I had some. I taped down the picture and traced the gears with a pen. This left a drawing of the outlines on the wood.

Using my burner I used the straight tip to outline and fill the the areas. The shading attachment doesnt really work well so I just used the straight tip which did leave a streaky effect. Not the neatest but it did the job.

After finishing I relayed out the gears, adjusting the position to suit the burning.

Step 4: Polishing, Gluing the Gears and Polishing

If I was to just glue on the gears, the superglue would stain the timber. I started with a sealer coat of lacquer so that didnt happen. I spray the lacquer on to get an even, smooth coat.

Using superglue I glued the gears on. There was a bit of extra glue that came around the gears but trying to clean it up would have possibly made more of a mess. The glue can leave a bit of a white coat as the acetone evaporates but that rubs off.

Then finish with another 2 coats of lacquer, cutting back between the 2nd and 3rd.

Wood Contest 2016

Participated in the
Wood Contest 2016



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    5 Discussions


    2 years ago

    looks really great! so going to do something similar on boxes! Thank you!


    2 years ago

    That is a very nice addition to your bowl. I like the gears.


    2 years ago

    This looks great, as usual! :)

    I'm not familiar with "cutting back" the lacquer between coats. (Does that mean you did a light sanding between coats, or is it something else?)

    2 replies