A Twice-turned Bowl from Green Wood

This week on Woodturning with Tim Yoder, Tim demonstrates his two-stage process for turning a black walnut bowl from a chunk of green wood.

Green wood is a pleasure to turn because the fibers cut easily due to the wood’s high moisture content. But if you try to turn a finished form, the green wood will deform as it dries, leaving you with a bowl that’s likely oblong and humped.

The solution? Turn the blank to rough shape then let it dry for several months before finishing the form.

Tim demonstrates how to bandsaw a blank from a raw log, using his clever plastic templates to help determine the rough shape. Then he heads to the lathe to further refine the form. Since the blank is out of round and unbalanced at this stage, he uses light cuts and a special weighted gouge that has lead shot in the handle to damped the vibration.

After working the outside, Tim rough-hollows the interior, leaving a rim that’s 1-1½ inches thick.

The next step requires patience. Tim puts the blank in a paper bag filled with green wood shavings so the blank will dry slowly, reducing the chance it will crack. The drying process can take several months but when it’s done, it’s time to re-turn the bowl, which by this time will likely be oblong.

Tim shows how he carefully uses pull-cuts to shape a bowl that’s no more than 3/8 of an inch thick. Then he refines the foot with a sweptback gouge and applies a hand-rubbed polyurethane finish.

If you have a good supply of green wood and you’re patient, you’re sure to enjoy learning this easy process for making gorgeous bowls.

Kevin Ireland

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