I made a bowl from some Russian olive that a friend glued up and gave me. I think it came out kind of pretty.


A bowl turned from birch.

This is the third bowl I turned, and the second made of birch. I managed to get the sides a little thinner, and the bottom thinner as well. I almost avoided tear-out on the end-grain sides of the bowl, only using the bowl gouge, but there was a little, so I sanded to clean things up.

The bottom of my third turned bowl

Turned this one in a single session in the shop. Maybe three hours total, including cutting it octagonal on the bandsaw, mounting it on the plate, cutting it free, and using the belt-sander to take off the last nubbin on the bottom.

It’s a little over 5 inches in diameter, and about 1-¼ inches tall.

Side view of my third turned bowl

Six coats of shellac, with some light sanding with 400 grit between the fourth and fifth coats. I’m trying to decide if I should pull out my French polishing kit and try to really put a nice finish on it, or whether this is good enough.

Thanks for looking!

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Turned birch bowl, side view

I made a second bowl today, mostly concentrating on making the bottom of the bowl thinner, as well as the sides.

Turned birch bowl, top view

The bowl is about 5 inches in diameter, and about 1¼ inches tall. The bottom is between ¼ and ⅜ inch thick, and the sides are slightly less than ¼ inch thick at their thinnest.

Turned birch bowl, bottom view

It’s not perfect, but I feel like I’m getting better every day, which is a nice feeling.

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A turned ash bowl

I got a lathe last month, and have been playing around, teaching myself to turn. This is the first bowl I finished, and while it’s far from perfect, I’m pretty darned happy with it.

Side view of the turned ash bowl

There are a few rough spots where I have what I would call tear-out if I was working with a plane. I may go after them with a spokeshave or sandpaper, or I may just leave them be. I haven’t decided yet.

Looking down into my first turned ash bowl

But the piece of ash I picked had some great grain, so I’ll be saving this bowl no matter how I decide to finish it. It was a great learning experience, and I hope the next one off the lathe will be even better.

The bottom of the bowl

I’ve been told I shouldn’t use a skew when turning a bowl. I did. Almost all of this was done with a ¾” bowl gouge and a ¾” skew. Mostly I was taking light enough cuts and using slow enough RPMs that I don’t think there was too much danger, but I’ve ordered a smaller bowl gouge (a ¼”) and a ½” round-nose scraper so I can finish off the surface more safely.

But I think I’m going to be back to spindle turning for a while anyhow. I need to make four legs for my forge table next, and I’d like to turn those round myself, so I’ll be practicing on short pieces for a while before tackling an almost three-foot long table leg. And I’ll probably need to take a break to sharpen my tools, too. Learning by trial and error is hard on the edges.

Turned ash bowl with scalloped rim

Update: I took a file and scalloped the rim to hide the worst of the tear-out. I think it looks a lot better now.

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