First turned bowl

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Project by rikkor posted 02-15-2008 11:36 PM 2900 views 0 times favorited 28 comments Add to Favorites Watch
First turned bowl
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This is my first attempt at turning a bowl. Based on our thread on Pandora’s box, I am going to open myself up for constructive criticism, because the bowl has shortcomings, and I want to be able to do better. The blank is Osage Orange. Perhaps this is the wrong wood for a first attempt, I don’t know. I chucked it up square, rather than knocking off the corners. I am thinking that is the wrong approach. There are quite a few catches and tear outs in the bowl. It is too thick at the base, a tribute to my impatience.

I think it could have been a nice bowl because of the grain patterns, but I rushed it. All suggestions gratefully accepted.

28 comments so far

View CharlieM1958's profile


16275 posts in 4242 days

#1 posted 02-15-2008 11:52 PM

Rikkor, here is my carefully considered critique:

It is round. It has a depression that seems like it would hold liquid. It is pretty.

I’d say it is a good bowl. <g>

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Grumpy's profile


23997 posts in 3875 days

#2 posted 02-15-2008 11:58 PM

Good attempt Rikkor. My first bowl looked very similar. I just acquired some Osage Orange, did you find find it hard on your chisels?.

-- Grumpy - "Always look on the bright side of life"- Monty Python

View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 3898 days

#3 posted 02-16-2008 12:01 AM

…did you find find it hard on your chisels?

Thanks guys. Yes, I did find it hard on the chisels. I probably should have sharpened at least once during the turning. It might have helped.

View Bob A in NJ's profile

Bob A in NJ

1232 posts in 4023 days

#4 posted 02-16-2008 12:02 AM

Hi, make sure you cut the edges off, these are not spindle turnings. Square bowl blanks will quickly dull the chisel and make one heck of a lot of noise and vibration. Keep the chisels very sharp. I’ve found osage very easy to turn and it sands up VERY nice. Overall, not bad for your first attempt. The next few will get easier and nicer.

-- Bob A in NJ

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4012 days

#5 posted 02-16-2008 12:07 AM

Rikkor – I looks good as it is, but it doesn’t appear that you are too happy with it.

If you wanted to you could chuck it back up in your lathe and make some changes.
The walls look thick enough to be able to thin them more and maybe make the opening deeper.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 3898 days

#6 posted 02-16-2008 12:11 AM

Thanks Gary. Perhaps it is because I see stuff like you and some of the others make, and set my own standards higher than I have a right to, given my level of expertise. I value your comment.

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4012 days

#7 posted 02-16-2008 12:29 AM

Rikkor – Don’t look at me. I have never turned a bowl before. :-)

I always set my goals beyond what I can actually do. The closer I can get to them the better, but that doesn’t
mean that I ever reach them. I always seem to bit off more than I can chew, and end up swallowing what
I can.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3846 days

#8 posted 02-16-2008 12:33 AM


I agree with Charlie. If it looks like a bowl then it is a bowl. For a novice turner I think this looks good. I can only imagine what my first piece is going to look like. If it is anywhere close to this I would be satisfied.

By the way once you start down this path there is no “turning” back.

Thanks for the post.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Alin Dobra's profile

Alin Dobra

351 posts in 3912 days

#9 posted 02-16-2008 12:58 AM


It is definitely a good start. They say it takes about 7 years to become a good turner, so you cannot expect too much in the first try. The most important thing for you, now that you started, is to keep on turning to get better. Turning is really like driving; when you learn you have to keep on practicing to get good fast.
Initially, you should focus almost exclusively on technique not on the turning itself. You have to get very comfortable with the tools, to overcome the fear that you will destroy the piece at any moment and to do everything in the correct order. Once these things are taken care of, you can focus on making elegant bowls.
Keep in mind that woodturning is pure hand-eye coordination exercise, not a matter of know-how. You can know perfectly well how to make a bowl but still have disastrous results. Practice is the only way to get better.

In terms of technique, it seems (but I cannot be sure) you have visible tool marks on the piece. This is what you should work on initially. Once your technique improves, I will make comments on the shape of the bowl, thickness, finish, etc (that is if you still want criticism). So go on, turn more.

Practice makes perfect,

-- -- Alin Dobra, Gainesville, Florida

View matter's profile


210 posts in 3793 days

#10 posted 02-16-2008 01:24 AM

Nice job.

I just finished a(nother) apple bowl of virtually the same shape. I started turning 20 years ago, but took a 19 year, 11 month break. Just starting to do some on my own, away from the critical eye of the shop teacher. (I was banned from the lathe for making a bong, in grade 9…)

What grit did you go to?

Also,what type of finish is that? wax?

-- The only easy wood project is a fire

View mjlauro's profile


244 posts in 3785 days

#11 posted 02-16-2008 01:40 AM

I think it came great. I had the same problems with my first few bowls. If you want to rechuck it, try using a curved scraper to refine the inside and smooth it. Also sand , a lot. Start with 120 and go all the way up to 800. Or just leave it as is and give it away, they make great gifts. I have very few of the bowls I’ve turned.

View odie's profile


1691 posts in 3864 days

#12 posted 02-16-2008 01:43 AM

Your bowl is exactly what your first bowl should look like. With time you will be quite good at it. PLEASE, from now on round your blank on the band saw. I do remember though, it’s really hard to turn those first few bowls when your hands and arms are shaking so much from fear. Trust us, they will get thinner and smoother as experience takes over.

-- Odie, Confucius say, "He who laughs at one's self is BUTT of joke". (my funny blog)

View darryl's profile


1795 posts in 4350 days

#13 posted 02-16-2008 01:44 AM

I’ve only turned three bowls and my first one needed the bottom glued back on, so I know where you are at!!

I’m not sure how Osage compares to Yellowheart, but my last bowl was made of yellowheart. I had quite a bit of tearout (particularly end grain). I sanded the cr@p out of my bowl to clean it up the best I could. I also understand the excitement you are experiencing with your first bowl and can forgive the tool marks that you are already aware of.

I used a scraper to help clean up the mess I made with my gouge. I’ve also seen a technique using a finger nail bowl gouge used as a scraper that gives really nice results. but as been previously mentioned, bowls are not like pens and certainly seem to require a lot more practice to improve.

I also knock my corners off the blank with the tablesaw before starting to turn.

may I suggest you do with this bowl as I did with my first bowl… wipe it down with a little mineral oil and give it to the kids to eat their chips and other dry snacks from. They will love it! of course mine are 13, 7 and 4…

slap another blank on that lathe and turn away!

View CharlieM1958's profile


16275 posts in 4242 days

#14 posted 02-16-2008 01:58 AM

Based on Alin’s comment that turning is an exercise in hand/eye coordination, I have abandoned any thoughts of taking up turning. I am a klutz!

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Dan'um Style's profile

Dan'um Style

14173 posts in 4007 days

#15 posted 02-16-2008 02:09 AM

get another hunk of wood and turn another one.
when you are finished with it, go for the next one.

After you have made a few, take a look back at this one.
If you still like the way it turned out, keep it !

From my point of view it looks like you had fun and it looks cool too.

-- keeping myself entertained ... Humor and fun lubricate the brain

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