Rough turning bowls

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Blog entry by blue77 posted 12-22-2015 10:20 AM 669 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Over the past summer and fall I have amassed a fare quantity of green wood. Now just about all I do is rough out bowls. I am still a novice at all this but so far it has been going well.
I start by measuring the lumber to see what kind of a bowl (or box) I can make. Then I draw the shape with a compass and mark the middle of the bowl.

Now at this stage most people would usually go to the band saw and cut out the bowl blank. Well my 9” band saw will only cut to a depth of 3 ¾” so that’s out. I could use a chain saw to cut the corners off, but I put the chain saw away for the winter. What I do is use a reciprocating saw with a long pruning blade on it.

I try to make it as round as possible, it’s not perfect but it does work.

I mount it on my lathe with a worm screw. I could use a face plate but I find with bowls up to 10” a worm screw works fine.

Then I turn it to a shape I find pleasing, put a tenon on it.

Flip it around and hollow it out. I try to have the wall thickness around ¾” – 1” but I’m still working on getting it a uniformed thickness.

Now to dry it out I put a bit of shavings in it.
Wrap it up in some paper.

Put it in a cardboard box and leave it alone.

I have also left some unwrapped to see if the paper and shavings does anything.
I’m guessing it will take a few months for them to dry out enough for me to re-turn the bowls. But I have lots of ruff turning to keep me busy. Like I said in the beginning I am still a novice and this is all a learning experience for me, so I guess I’ll just have to wait and see if this all works out!

-- I love my lathe. It’s old, not too pretty and I don’t really know how to use it… Love it!

4 comments so far

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

16801 posts in 2526 days

#1 posted 12-22-2015 02:38 PM

Way to go, Blue. I take my rough bowls and put them in buckets of the wood chips i cut from the roughing and they all dry out together.


-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View JoeinGa's profile


7370 posts in 1428 days

#2 posted 12-22-2015 03:08 PM

I have PLENTY of green wood for turning.
MY problem is I dont have the PATIENCE to “put it away and wait” ... :-)

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View John's profile


414 posts in 691 days

#3 posted 12-25-2015 08:48 AM

Hi Blue, I’ve enjoyed turning for a few years now, not long compared to other guys on this site. From information I’ve picked up on here it seems that different parts of the continent require different drying methods. I tried the paper bag thing here and I was shocked to see my roughed bowls splitting in half. Keep checking yours to know if it is working. I’ve had to go to plastic bags to slow it down to where it will warp instead of split. The latest thing I’ve done is spray a very wet bowl with a bit of vinegar to stop mould growing. If you want spalting you can let it go but I’m worried about breathing that stuff. I also prefer using a face plate for roughing the bowl, I’ve found I will decide I want to “move” the centre of the bowl one way or another and it’s easy to move the face plate a bit to accomplish this. At times I’ve wished I glued a piece on the blank so I could change which side of the blank was going to be my top. I now try to rough a unique bowl shape with any blank I get, I’ve done enough ordinary looking bowls. Anyways, have a nice Christmas day!

-- John, Sunshine Coast, BC, Canada.

View Mark Wilson's profile

Mark Wilson

1694 posts in 484 days

#4 posted 01-09-2016 10:07 AM

Blue, I dig your tagline. Back in a minute.
Joe, get out of my head.
Blue, what Joe said. All this green wood (and I have piles of it) has something to do, and its in a hurry to do it. I’ve done the shavings/bag/box thing so many times, and found cracked wood, nonetheless, when I got it out after a few months, that I’ve pretty much given up on “drying” the stuff. Rough-turned bowls? Not in my dungeon – no room. It’s wet when I start (and nothing turns like wet wood – sanding and finishing are another story), and fairly wet when I finish. My turnings are usually small Things that pretty much dry out on the lathe. Enough to finish. And, when I finish, I make sure to finish well and completely. I’m a little bit bemused at how exercised most woodsmiths seem to get over wood movement. Sometimes, wood movement (in turned art, at any rate) can be a most wonderful thing. (see:, which was fresh off the tree when I turned it. I could almost hear the cracks opening bigger as I went along. It hangs on a wall, like a real piece of arte – not my idea; see also:, which is a wonderful exemplar of Arte designing itself.)
May the bluebird of fortune find your doorway.

-- Mark

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