Around the Woods

Turning a Natural Edged Bowl - Facegrain

"All natural and it's wood, it has to be organic!"

Not surprisingly, a natural edged bowl starts with a log. Here is a fairly dry piece of cherry, complete with a radial split along which I plan to cut, leaving me with two half logs to choose from for bowls. woodworking image
With a chain saw, cut the log to length and then through its pith. Each half can make a bowl. woodworking image
I first mount the bowl between centers and arrange it so that the top edges of the bowl are in the same plane. This is not necessary but usually I feel that the bowl will look better this way. I also begin with the top of the bowl toward the head stock. woodworking image
Rough out the shape beginning with the top of the bowl and working towards the bottom. This goes against the grain of the wood but has a better chance of keeping the bark on as the cuts push the bark towards the wood. Much of the time we are turning air and it is difficult to see how close we are to the edge of the bowl without stopping the lathe. On the other hand it is good to stop the lathe from time to time and move the tool rest closer to the work. It balances out. woodworking image
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Flatten the bottom and leave a bit of a tenon large enough to accommodate the spur center in a moment. woodworking image
At this point I flip the piece headstock to tailstock and procede to rough out the center. This is one of those times it is good to remind yourself that “this is just a bowl.” Rough it out like you would any other. The difference is that the surface will not be flattened because it does not exist as a flat plane. A great deal of what we turn is air. Look for the ghost and turn it away. You will be able to see the tip of the tool as it cuts away the inner part of the rim. Shavings will fly out of the side of the bowl. Take a look at the pictures and see how it goes. Leave the sides and bottom about 3/4" thick or more. It is hard to say to leave it 10% of the diameter because there is so much variation in diameters around visible edges. woodworking image
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