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Turn a Green Wood Bowl

By Alan Lacer

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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.

Click any image to view a larger version.

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
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

Purchase this back issue.

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