Wood-turning: Fruit Bowl




About: Background consists of Mechanical Engineering, topped that with Industrial Design. Now I'm combining scientific research at a university with engineering agricultural machinery

This is a brief summary about a wood-turning workshop taken at Prototyping Summer-school @ Howest IDC (Belgium).

We did start with roughly shaped pieces of wood (quite cylindrical).
The heel was already present, and you'll need it in order to create the inside of the bowl.

For your own safety, make sure to have decent work clothing, no loose hair, dust mask and safety glasses.

In this guide I did mention a big and a small chisel.
The big chisel is a roughing gouge and the small chisel is a bowl gouge. (thanks pudtiny)

For safety concerns, it is best to create the round contour with a bowl gouge. Once the shape is approx. what you are looking for, then you can switch to roughing chisel. (thanks TimS124)

Don't push the sandpaper too hard, it might get burnt (and your fingers too). You can use a block of cork to hold the paper with (thanks Vidar_76)

Step 1: Creating a Cylindrical Shape.

Use the big chisel to create an flat outer contour.

Step 2: Outer Shape

With the big chisel you can make the rough line of the outer contour. A smaller chisel can be used to have a better surface so less sanding is needed.
Do not cut away the heel, as it will be needed to create the inside. You can make it more cylindrical with a small chisel.
The tool mount can be adjusted so the tool rests closely to the piece you are working on.
It should be at center height while cutting. The tool itself should be approx. 20° below the horizontal line.
The tip of the small chisel has to be pointed in the cutting direction.

Step 3: Sanding

Most important step of creating wood turned pieces it the sanding.
We did use 4 sanding steps.

Start with high grain size sand paper.
The sanding paper becomes hot, so you might use an old towel or gloves so you don't get burned.

Sanding paper:

Step 4: Heel

You can cut away a piece of the heel so the bowl won't wobble when standing.
Make sure to have enough strength in the heel so you can pick it up to finish the inside contour.
The small chisel is the best tool for this job.

Step 5: Finishing Outer Contour

Use an old towel to get most of the dust away.
Then you can put Cellulose sanding sealer onto the towel and apply it to the sanded surface.
The bowl changes color. Use a towel without sanding sealer and push it on the outer surface.
This removes the superfluous sealer.

Then you can add wax. Push it firmly against the outer contour.
The bowl will become more dark and the outer contour is finished.

Some of the holes inside the wood are woodworm holes. Can't do much about them, and they do make the bowl look even nicer.

Step 6: Preparing the Inner Contour

Place the bowl in the claws with the heel.
Drill a big hole in the center of the bowl. This can also be used as a reference for the depth you'll be drilling towards.

Step 7: Inner Contour

Same steps as the outer contour.
Don't cut deeper then the hole drilled in the center of the bowl!
You can start with a big chisel and end with the small one.

Step 8: Sanding

Again, this step is very important and needs to be done thoroughly.
Pay attention at the outer edge of the bowl, it needs to be sanded so it is round and smooth.

Step 9: Finishing Inner Contour

Same steps as the outer contour.
Start with a towel to remove most dust.
Use the sealer to seal the holes.
Then use a towel again to remove the superfluous sealer.
Apply wax to the inner contour.
Heat the wax with a towel until the color changes.

Step 10: Finished!

Congratulations, you have made your own fruit bowl!
Experiment with shapes and sizes, wood-turning is very rewarding.



    • Pie Contest

      Pie Contest
    • Trash to Treasure

      Trash to Treasure
    • Weaving Challenge

      Weaving Challenge

    16 Discussions


    3 years ago on Introduction

    WOAAAHHHHH......You will kill yourself turning a bowl with a roughing gouge.....DON'T USE A ROUGHING GOUGE! They will snap at the tang and fly back at you and stab you! Btw if you turned at a quicker speed and used a BOWL GOUGE with some light finishing cuts, you wouldn't have to sand with 40 grit. lol you might as well sand with a roofing shingle.

    2 replies

    Reply 3 years ago

    You can absolutely use a roughing gouge to round a bowl blank. That's what they're for. A bowl gouge does a good job of creating the basic profile, and then you can use scrapers to smooth the finish. I see the author using a scraper on the bowl in step 7.


    Reply 2 years ago

    HPand is absolutely right! Using a Spindle Roughing Gouge to turn a bowl blank is totally unsafe. I have personally seen accidents using this tool incorrectly, and it is NOT intended for use this way. A bowl gouge is much safer, due to its basic design. There are many, many references to this issue in the woodturning literature, and the American Association of Woodturners strongly warns against using the Spindle Roughing Gouge on any material that is mounted cross-grain. Please do not reinforce mis-information that is so dangerous.


    3 years ago

    That's a great bowl, especially for your first attempt! You chose a pretty challenging profile, and turned the walls pretty thin. That's fancy work for a beginner! Great job!

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago

    Thanks Eranox!

    We had serious mentors: the flemish woodturning guild was present to aid us during the complete proces.



    4 years ago



    6 years ago on Introduction

    This is a good instructable just a couple of points. The big chisel is a roughing gouge the small chisel is a bowl gouge. You don't seem to mention the two different scrapers you have photographed. Also when sanding if the paper is getting hot you are pressing too hard.

    5 replies

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Ok, I'll update the Introduction post.
    I'm not a native English speaker, sorry for the language.
    Thanks for the comment.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Nice bowl!

    As pudtiny says, the sandpaper could easily get burnt if you press to hard. And your fingers and the wood with it. I usually use a block of cork to hold the paper with.

    It seems like you yse the traditional cutting turning instead of the chafing that some consider safer (and easier). I teach 10-12 years old kids to turn (among other things) and almost everybody can learn the cutting method.

    For the lathe i would prefer a catch above the rotating bowl, something to stop it from hitting people of it gets loose. It doesent happen often but its often a bit discuraging for the pupils if they get hurt.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    What is 'chafing'? (google images shows something different I think..)
    I'll update the post with the sandpaper remarks.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    I believe you have a cutting action with a gouge or chisel and a chafing action with a scraper.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    The American Association of Woodturners is trying to spread the word about the dangers of using a SPINDLE roughing gouge for bowl turning. The roughing gouge's tang is too thin to survive a strong catch…and considerable injury can result.

    Bowl roughing should be done with a bowl gouge. Bowl gouges have a much stronger tang.

    I realize you're not in America but the laws of physics don't care. Since you're new to bowl turning, now is a great time to avoid picking up unsafe tool techniques.

    Welcome to the world of bowl turning!

    1 reply

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for the input!
    They only had these tools with them. They did mention there are more tools.
    It was a very soft kind of wood we used to work with.

    I'll add it to the guide.