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Wooden Bowl

Edwin Sadler shows how to convert exotic woods into gorgeous wood bowls.

Ed Sadler has had a love affair with wood since he was a small boy in England. He got in serious hot water (trouble) at the age of 10 when he was caught pounding nails into his father's toolbox. Sadler is a degreed mechanical engineer, licensed builder and wood turner. One of his favorite things to do is convert scrap pieces of wood into exotic wood bowls and wood fruit. Sadler makes both using a lathe.

Materials and Tools:

exotic woods:
- mahogany
- padauk (lip of bowl)
- yellowheart
wood glue
damp sponge
wax paper
60- to 600-grit sandpaper
clean cloth
gloss or wipe on polyurethane
safety glasses
steel rule
bow scriber
table saw
belt sander
band saw
electric drill or press drill
wood turning lathe with four-jaw scroll chuck, screw drive
running center
turning tools
face shield
internal sanding tool
marking pen


1. Select pieces of wood. The checker pattern (mahogany and yellowheart) will end up at approximately 1-3/8" x 2". The padauk lip will be approximately 8" x 8" and one inch deep. The overall depth of the bowl will be approximately three inches.

2. Rough cut the mahogany and yellowheart wood pieces for the checker pattern on a table saw allowing 1/16 inch to be removed on each face. Cut two strips of each type of wood.

3. To make the checker pieces, square up one face on the jointer. Square up the opposite faces on the planer to the finish off the checker pieces.

4. Plane, or joint the padauk on one side. Glue and clamp the planed sides of the mahogany and yellowheart woods in alternate strips.

5. When the glue has cured (about two hours), scrape off excess glue. Sand the residual glue excess on both faces.

6. Plane the glued block to final thickness.

7. Cut the glued block into 2 inch pieces on a chop saw. Position the 2 inch pieces to form a checker pattern, glue and clamp.

8. When the glue has cured, scrape off excess glue and sand the ends.

9. Plane, or sand one end flat.

10. Scribe a circle with the compass on each end to the maximum diameter.

11. Center the padauk on the checker block then glue with polyurethane glue, dampening one of the glue faces first, and clamp.

12. Find the center of the padauk and the opposite end of the block using a steel rule, laid corner to corner, then place a center mark.

13. The screw drive center will go into the padauk and the running center will go at the opposite checker end. Drill a pilot hole in the padauk lip to accept the screw drive center.

14. Cut off the sharp corners of the padauk lip with a band saw.

15. Mount the screw drive center in the chuck and screw in the blank.

16. Bring up the tailstock with the running center, line up the center of the checker end of the block with the running center, tighten the tailstock and wind the running center into the wood.

17. Position the tool rest about 1/4 inch from the padauk and make sure the work spins freely.

18. Wearing a face shield, set the lathe on the slowest speed and with a roughing gouge start to turn the lip and the body to a circular shape.

19. Shape the outside lip and body with a 1/2-inch bowl gouge.

20. Move the tool rest to the bottom of the bowl, square the base and radius the edge. Use a rounded scraper tool to smooth the outside of the bowl and lip.

21. Withdraw the running center, move the tailstock back and set the tool rest at the bottom of the bowl 90 degrees to the bed.

22. Trim the bottom with a bowl gouge and scraper to square up the bottom. Using a bow scriber, scribe a 2-1/4 inch circle on the base of the bowl.

23. Using a thumbnail gouge, turn a recess at the 2-1/4 inches; about 1/8" to 3/16" deep.

24. With the long point of a skew chisel cut a dovetail at the 2-1/4 inch diameter for the jaws to expand into.

25. Move the tool rest out of the way and sand the outside of the bowl starting from 120-grit up to 400-grit. Unscrew the bowl, take out the screw drive center, and mount the bowl in the jaws. Check that the bowl runs true.

26. Set the tool rest parallel to the face and with the 1/2 inch bowl gouge start cutting out the inside of the bowl, biggest diameter to the smallest. Shape the lip.

27. Using a scraper, smooth out the inside of the bowl. Move the tool rest out of the way and sand the inside.

28. Wipe the bowl with a tack cloth. Spread "wiping polyurethane" on the entire surface with a clean cloth.

29. When dry (about 30 minutes), buff with 600-grit sandpaper and apply another coat of polyurethane. Continue this process until satisfied with the finish.



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