Woodturned Bowl
Being Created

Woodturning-Classic Bowl Turning
for Beginners

Lesson - 2b

Now for the Woodturned Mahogany Bowl

Through Lesson - 2a, we have learned how to condition a blank to go on the lathe, and we have woodturned the outside of it round. Up until now, we have been restricted to the size of our blank. Now that we have gotten the blank to this point, we have to decide what we are going to do with it. And so, what we have to do is design a bowl that will fit the blank - and then draw it.

Draw the bowl before turning it.

Part II - 13

What I normally do is draw it full scale: 1" = 1"

What I have done here is draw a 3 1/4" deep bowl that will be 9" in diameter. The diameter does not actually have anything to do with the shape of the woodturned bowl, so all that we need to do is draw one side. I draw two lines 3 1/4" apart, and then draw the side of the bowl. It is as simple as that. After we have determined that that is the shape that we want the bowl, then we go on to start our turning.

If you don't make a drawing of what you are going to turn - and you don't get an idea in your head - you are going to waste a blank of wood. If you can buy a blank of mahogany the size we have here for less than $40, then you have done well. If you do not have something in your mind when you start wood turning, then you just might as well not even do it.

Picture of mahogany turned bowl in process.

Part II - 14

After we have in our mind what we are going to do, we turn the outside of the bowl. This picture shows the tool rest as close to the bowl as we can put it without touching it, and that we have woodturned the blank into the shape of the exterior of the bowl.

NOTE: You do not want to sand until you have the bowl completely woodturned because, if you sand on this and then have to turn on it again, you are going to dull your tools.

Part II - 15

In this picture, I am turning the interior of the bowl with the round nose tool. It shows you the position that I stand in, that I have plenty of light, that I wear glasses to protect my eyes, and that I wear a mask. Always take health precautions when you wood turn.

Determine the depth of the bowl - part 1.

Determine the depth of the bowl - part 2.

Part II - 16

Now then, you have the problem of turning too deeply. What I do is stop the lathe, hold a straight edge across the bowl, and then measure to the center. There is no problem seeing the center because you see where you had your tool. Measure through from the side of the straight edge that touches the bowl and then hold it up over the outside just as you can see in the above two pictures. That tells you how deep you are in the bowl. For a bowl no larger than this, you want it to be thin. If you get into larger bowls, then you might want it to be thicker. It all depends on the design of the bowl. But, with the above two pictures, you can see how I have measured the depth.

Tool rest position when turning bowl interior

Part II - 17

This picture shows you the position of the tool rest when I am turning the interior of the bowl.

Round nose turning tool used on the bowl's interior

Part II - 18

This picture shows you how I am holding the round nose tool while I wood turn the interior of the bowl. Notice that it is seated firmly on the tool rest.

Picture of testing the thickness of the bowl

Part II - 19

To test the thickness of the sides as you wood turn, position your thumb and forefinger on the bowl as you see mine. Run them in and out on the side of the bowl so that you can feel the thickness. You can feel if it gets thicker as you move toward the inside the bowl or if it gets thinner. You want to use that as a gauge as to how thick to make it.

Picture of sanding a turned bowl

Part II - 20

When the bowl has been completely woodturned, it is time to sand it. At first you can use a heavy sandpaper. However, the more you sand with heavy paper, the more sanding you are going to have to do to get the sand marks out of it. The first sandpaper that I use is an 80 grit, then I go to a 100 grit, and then I go to a 120 grit. You need to use sandpaper that can withstand heat. Just any sandpaper cannot withstand heat, and it will not last any time at all. What I use are some old sandpaper belts that you can buy at local suppliers - the belts are made to withstand heat.

The turned mahogany bowl

Part II - 21

When you have finished sanding - you have your woodturned bowl.

This concludes Lesson - 2b

When you are ready
Proceed to Lesson 3

Go to Lesson 3

Return Woodturned to Homepage