Lee Valley Tools    Woodworking Newsletter
   Vol. 6, Issue 2
   November 2011
   Turned Bowls Inspired by Banding

Turned bowls
Turning interesting and decorative bowls doesn't have to result in wood waste
I turned my first bowl in high-school shop class. Many years later, I bought a lathe and eventually got up the nerve to try making another bowl. I was happy with the results, except for one thing: most of the expensive block of cherry burl I had bought was on the floor. I said to myself, as I'm sure many people who have turned bowls do, "There has to be a way to do this without wasting so much wood!" Well, there is.

The idea is simple — start with wood that is in the basic shape of the bowl before it's mounted on the lathe. This is accomplished by making rings of wood out of many segments and stacking them on a round, flat bottom. Perhaps you've seen this method described in a book, and perhaps, like me, you felt too intimidated to try this seemingly intricate task. Let me tell you that it's not as hard as it looks.

Along with not being too difficult, another most-satisfying benefit associated with this method is that you can use scrap wood at little or no cost. You may even have a bin full of small pieces in your shop that are too good to throw away but you have no idea what to do with them. As a kitchen installer, I often have leftover pieces of fillers, crown molding, light valance and the occasional damaged or defective cabinet door that would otherwise be tossed in the dumpster. Instead, I bring them home and make them into something useful. I have also used hardwood flooring, old tables, railings, just about anything made of solid wood. The only time I have bought wood to use in my bowls is when I want something out of the ordinary that adds a striking contrast or highlight; the rest of the wood I use is salvaged and recycled.
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