From Logs to Bowls

#1 Finding Logs

All of the wood I use to make bowls is from reclaimed sustainable trees provided by local arborists and tree cutters. These trees have either fallen in high winds or represent a hazard to adjacent structures. I do not purchase imported forested wood. The logs are stored in a shady area of my yard below a mature avocado tree

#2 Cutting the Logs

I don't have fancy band saws or industrial equipment. A lot of elbow grease and a chain saw get the log section into shape for turning.

#3 Preparing the Log for the Lathe

A faceplate is centered on a flat-cut face of the prepared log (blank) and mounted on to the lathe for turning. I prefer working larger sections to make medium and large size bowls.

#4 Turning the Outside of the Bowl

The bowl blank is mounted on the lathe and a tail stock cranked in to stabilize the blank. The wood is cut with a variety of hand held cutting tools held against a metal rest at the lathe. Turning speeds begin low with large rough pieces cut like you see in this photo. The outside is hand-tooled before beginning the interior hollowing.

#5 Turning the Inside of the Bowl 

A variety of tools and angle adjustments allow for hollowing out the inside of the bowl although the standard bowl gouge and scrapers are my tools of choice.

#6 Sharpening the Tools

Gouging tools must always be kept sharp. I keep a grinding wheel at my side at all times. Proper grinding is an art in itself.

#7 Sanding

Sanding the bowl surfaces involves hand sanding while the bowl is spinning on the lathe, stationary hand sanding, and use of orbital and side drill sanding discs. I start with 80 grit and work my way up to 400 or 600 grit. Sanding is often followed by hand rubbing with very fine steel wool.

#8 Drying

After turning the log into it's final shape and initial sanding, I leave the bowl to dry prior to re-sanding and finishing. During this time, depending on the type of wood and moisture content,  the bowl may take on a shape of it's own. If the shape remains pleasing to the eye it will be prepared for finishing. Cracks that appear are sealed.

 

#9 Applying the Finish

After re-sanding, I typically buff the surface with buffing wheels using a Tripoli and white diamond compound prior to applying a finish. Finishes vary from natural walnut oil, pure tung oil, tung oil finishes and lacquer or boiled linseed oil and require additional buffing and polishing. The cured finishes are food safe.

For the artist's views and experience with bowl turning please click here
For a discussion on turning green wood click
here.

 

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