Turn a Green Wood Bowl

Turn a Green Wood Bowl

By Alan Lacer

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Making a functional object directly from raw material in its natural state is incredibly satisfying. Just ask any potter. For woodworkers, green woodturning captures that feeling. You literally start with a log and end up with a beautiful bowl.

If you’ve never turned green wood before, you’re in for a treat. Green wood is easier to turn than kiln-dried wood. It cuts cleaner and produces very little dust. To top it off, the wood itself often costs nothing.

1. Cut green bowl blanks in lengths that are equal to the log’s diameter, plus one inch. Start by lopping off a short section to eliminate any end checks. Mark a line through the pith where the log will be split into two bowl blanks.

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5. Screw the faceplate into what will be the opening of the bowl. The screws should penetrate the wood at least 1" for initial rough turning.

6. Rough the bowl with a bowl gouge. Point the flute in the direction of the cut and keep the bevel rubbing on the wood. The tailstock adds support.

9. The bowl is now mounted with the base towards the headstock. Cut the bowl’s height so the pith is removed. Use the gouge in a scraping fashion with the bevel facing away from the wood and the bottom edge scraping.

12. Start the hollowing process by drilling out the center of the bowl. The hole gives a place for the tool to end each cut and eliminates the need to constantly check the depth. Use a 5/8" to 1" dia. bit mounted in a Jacobs-style chuck. Drill to a depth that is 1/2" less than the finished depth will be.

15. Establish the bowl’s final depth with a heavy scraper. Use the scraper for the bottom and a little up the sides. Scrapers cut poorly across end grain, so rely on the gouge for cutting most of the bowl’s sides.

21. Cut away the waste block where the screws were fastened. Refine the final shape of the base and the bottom third of the bowl with light, finishing cuts.

22. Undercut the bowl’s base to create a rim for the bowl to sit on. This looks better than a flat bottom. Watch the bottom mark (made by holding a pencil on the mark made earlier) so you don’t cut too deep.

24. Sand the bowl after it has dried for 4-5 days. Use a soft foambacked disc mounted on the lathe with a drill chuck. Keep the bowl moving to avoid creating flat spots. Start with 100-grit and work through 220-grit.

This story originally appeared in American Woodworker September 2007, issue #130.

September 2007, issue #130

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Purchase the complete version of this technique story from AWBookstore.com.