General contractor Tom Silva has been turning projects on lathes for years but has recently started to focus on the craft now that he has more free time. He’s tackled many projects, including ornaments, baseball bats, and more. In this project, he will show host Kevin O’Connor how to turn a segmented bowl on a lathe, from stock prep to turning.
How To Turn a Segmented Bowl
- Start breaking the material down into thinner strips. For the base, cut the material about 6 inches wide. For the segments on the rest of the bowl, cut the strips around 1.5 inches wide. For the small walnut splines in the base, rip a few pieces of walnut down to ¼-inch thick.
- Cut the triangles for the base on a miter saw. Make them large enough so that, when glued together, they form a base wide enough for a bowl. Cut the splines to fit between the triangles.
- Place plastic sheeting on the work surface. Glue both sides of the walnut splines as well as the shorter sides of each triangle. Assemble the base and secure it with a strap clamp or zip ties cinched tightly around until the glue dries.
- Use the cross-cut sled to cut small lengths of wood for the segmented rings. The length of the pieces will depend on the size of the bowl you’re creating, but their edges should be angled so that when all the pieces are butted together, they form a circle. Start with longer pieces for the top segments, and cut the pieces slightly shorter for the bottom segments as they taper toward the base.
- Assemble the pieces on the plastic sheeting so they form circles. Glue the ends of the boards and clamp them together until they’re completely dry.
- Sand all the sections smooth with rough-grit sandpaper. The rings should be as flat as possible to ensure the bowl doesn’t leak.
- Glue the bottom ring to the base and allow it to dry completely. Leaving the rest of the rings off temporarily allows you to carve the inside of the bowl more easily.
- While the bottom ring and base are drying, glue the other rings together and allow them to dry.
- Clamp the base into the lathe by creating a recess and snuggling the base in place. Carefully turn the lathe on and let the lathe get up to speed. Be careful to ensure that the base is secured to the lathe and spinning evenly.
- Use the turning chisels to smooth the outside and inside of the base, creating a radius at the sharp corners.
- Glue the other rings to the base and allow them to dry. Clamp the whole assembly back in the lathe, again, being careful that the assembly is secure and spinning evenly.
- Use the turning chisels to carefully shape the inside and outside of the bowl. Work slowly, taking off small bits of material at a time.
- With the bowl still spinning, use 100-grit sandpaper to smooth the inside and outside of the bowl. Eventually, move to 240-grit sandpaper. Apply a sanding paste with an abrasive pad, inside and out. Finally, apply a food-safe finish of oil and beeswax with a cloth.
Tom uses a jigsaw to cut out four sections for the wheels. For the worktop, Tom makes the cuts using a miter saw with a standard wood cutting blade. They secure the worktop to the metal frame using heavy duty wood screws.
Power the lathe on and slowly bring it up to speed. Taking your time with this step will help ensure the block is properly secured and will spin well. Get the rough shape of the bowl on the outside using a parting tool. Do this until the bowl is roughly to the desired shape and smoothness. Get the smooth shape of the bowl on the outside using a bowl gouge.
Remove the bowl from the spur and clamp the dowel at the bottom of the bowl using the
spindle. Turn the lathe back on, allow it to get to speed, and repeat the process for the inside of the bowl.
- Wood stock
- Heavy duty wood screws
- Plastic sheeting
- Wood glue
- Strap clamps or zip ties
- Sanding wax
- Abrasive pad
- Food safe finish