Well I’ve seen these posted here and on other sites on the web and just love them. My only problem is I’m relatively new to woodworking and could only guess as to how to make one. I thought if I did a blog maybe with lots of good feedback, I could figure this out.
So here’s how I made my first attempt.
I’ve only done segmented and green bowls so far, and I noticed all the other “Melting pots” were glued up in a laminate style. I decided to do the same. I chose my wood and got started.
I decided on Maple for the center piece and decided to cut the basic shape of the bowl out on the bandsaw.
I used Sapele for the next two pieces. I drilled a shallow hole in the bottom center of my Maple piece with a forstner bit and stuck a dowel in it so I could mark the rest of the pieces with a compass as I made them.
I glued the pairs on as I made them.
I cut the centers out before gluing and the outsides after.
I glued the end blocks on, then finished doing what cutting I could on the bandsaw.
Here is the blank ready for the lathe.
I mounted the blank between centers and finished a small area on the base to attach a waste block to. I keep a depression in the center section of my waste blocks so I am only gluing on about a 1/4” wide ring on the bottom, so the area marred by the headstock is of no concern. Once I have this area finished I reverse chuck the bowl to center it and use the tailstock to center the chuck with the wasteblock on it.
Here is the mounted bowl rough turned.
Cutting the slices. I made a simple support to keep the bowl level as I sliced it. It is just a 2×4 with a v cut in it, then cut at a length to keep the face of the bowl at 90 degrees to the bandsaw table. I re-cut the support after every slice of the bowl to maintain my 90 degree face.
I wanted more “slope” on the tops of my rings than the bottoms, so I marked each ring before sanding to make sure I didn’t get one mixed up! I then roughed out each ring on a belt sander. I then proceeded to sand each ring to their end shape using a palm sander and progressively finer grits of sandpaper. (120-220-320)
Once all the rings were sanded I glued them back on the bottom, one at a time in a homemade press.
I put the re-glued bowl back on the lathe to finish the inside, and decided to try something a bit different. Once I finished turning the inside I used a chatter tool to make the pattern on the inside of the bowl, put in a couple of solid lines, and filled the decorated area with black milkpaint. Once the paint dried I sanded it all back down to leave the burnt looking pattern on the inside. Then the whole thing got several coats of lacquer.
Now a few things I would do different next time.
Selection of wood by hardness, not only color, the Purpleheart was so much harder than the woods on each side of it it made sanding that area a bit more difficult than had I chosen wood of a more similar hardness. This may not be a problem for more experienced woodworkers though.
I needed a narrower bandsaw blade with more TPI. The one I used was 3/8” X 4 TPI. I think the re-glue would have been better with smoother surfaces. My blade left some pretty good grooves in the wood. Narrower would have given me more control of the wavey pattern when cutting the rings. I got a couple thinner than planned because of this.
The sanding went pretty well. I think there must be some better techniques for sanding uneven curves though. I could use advise here.
The glue up concerned me because when I glue thing up, there’s always some squishing out of the seams. Obviously this would be a problem in the seams of a bowl like this. My solution was to use extra care not to use too much glue, then I had a bowl of water and a fairly stiff paint brush standing by. when I put the pressure on the glue joint, if I could see any glue at all I scrubbed the area with the wet paint brush several times to remove all traces of glue. I was worried if I didn’t do a good enough job, it would show up on the finished bowl, but it seemed to work fine.
I turned the blank down to 1” thick to give me some wiggle room if I needed it. I have seen where others turn down to 3/4”. I can see where the end result would be dramatically different just based on the thickness or the width you make your rings.
I’m open to comments and suggestions, but I’m really hoping one of the pros will do a blog so I can delete this one! :)
-- No matter how many mistakes you make or how slow your progress, you're still way ahead of everyone who isn't trying.