Lee Valley Tools Woodworking Newsletter
Vol. 1, Issue 3
March 2007
Turning Bowl Feet – Design

Turning several grooves in a definitive pattern can be attractive and easily accomplished by using a variety of turning tools. Remember to leave enough space for writing, and take special care with the pattern so it appears deliberate, not random. If you want to attempt multi-center turning, try adding your grooves in an off-centered manner. Use sharp tools and a light touch to make grooves sharp and well defined. Avoid sanding, which will inevitably soften the ridges.

While these are somewhat more challenging than simple grooves, they can be appropriate on some bowls. Try one single bead around the circumference of the foot or turn several beads in a definitive pattern. If you turn more than one bead, be sure that the outermost bead will be proud of the others or the bowl may rock. To sign and date your work, leave enough flat surfaces between the beads.

Maple bowl with cherry rim and a modified bead at base.
A maple bowl with a cherry rim and a modified bead at the base.
  The same bowl: side view.
The same bowl: side view.

This is an increasingly popular decorative element in turned bowls and its application to the foot shouldn't be ignored. You can carve with simple tools, such as a small Dremel-type tool, a reciprocating power carver or even one or two small V- or U-shaped carving chisels. A simple fluted pattern can be carved around the outside of the foot to add a feature that may be seen without turning the bowl over. Alternatively, turn a rim on your foot and add the same fillets to the underside.

Again, the transition can play an important part. For example, you can carve designs up the side of the bowl to give the illusion of cradling the bowl. This takes more time, but it will add style to the piece. You may need to turn your bowl so that it's slightly thicker at the base in order to provide enough material for carving. Some extra effort is required to make the transition look natural, but on the right bowl the effect will be worth it.

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