Bowl turning adventure (first try)

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Project by Eddie posted 12-09-2013 04:52 PM 1313 views 3 times favorited 28 comments Add to Favorites Watch

A few months ago I bought a Shopsmith.

I have used nearly every function that it could do…except the lathe. I have zero experience with a lathe so I started reading/watching videos about the techniques involved.

I was given a few large awkwardly shaped pieces of black walnut (or so I was told…I am not the best at telling the species, is this black walnut?) and I figured I could make a bowl blank out of them.

As I began to turn the wood I found that the bark actually was pretty thick in places and I discovered quite a few checks/cracks/bug holes.

As I did not have an exact plan of the final shape that I wanted, I just went with it as a few pieces chunked out.
In fear of the bowl breaking I did not hollow the whole thing out, instead changed the design from bowl to planter.

I am really happy with how it finished up. I used a salad bowl finish on the outside and a shellac finish inside to help with water protection.

It is far from perfect. There are still small marks from my gouges and sanding but it shows that its my first project on the lathe and will be perfect for my desk at work.

Let me know what you guys think!

Below are pics of the process:

28 comments so far

View Wolfdaddy's profile


263 posts in 656 days

#1 posted 12-09-2013 05:18 PM

Very nice! That looks like walnut to me. Nice figure!

-- Your failures do not take away your possibilities.

View waho6o9's profile (online now)


5634 posts in 1398 days

#2 posted 12-09-2013 05:20 PM

Fantastic work!

View LesB's profile


1107 posts in 2264 days

#3 posted 12-09-2013 05:25 PM

Wow, you took on a real challenge for your first piece and it came out well.
If you can take a class (Woodcrafter has them) or get someone experienced to mentor you it will cut your learning curve tremendously.
A great turning wood that is easy to get in the Northwest is Big Leaf Maple. It is plentiful and often has some great spaulding patterns. It seem that everyone with a wood pile has some.

-- Les B, Oregon

View KSW's profile


18 posts in 746 days

#4 posted 12-09-2013 05:41 PM

Wow, for your first try and “on the fly” you sure brought out a nice shape. It’s so interesting to see how far the raw material comes, from rough to finished. The lathe is a very versatile machine, you might find you use it more than you think. Especially if you can get a 4-jaw chuck for yours…

View palaswood's profile


818 posts in 573 days

#5 posted 12-09-2013 06:28 PM

Not bad for your first try! I’m kidding, this is totally awesome.

As I have begun to learn to turn, I notice that what they veterans say is true, at first your pieces will be quite chunky, but as you get more comfortable, your walls will get thinner and thinner.

Great job!

-- Joseph, Lake Forest, CA,

View NaptownWood's profile


278 posts in 694 days

#6 posted 12-09-2013 07:41 PM got a real challenge of a piece, looks punky and like parts were chunking off when turning. Got a little undercut lip and a cool shape. Im learning too. As they all say, its addictive. Ive just been pulling pieces off the firewood pile to turn. Just cut it into a slight octagon on the BS, and get a spindle, then go to town. Another easy one is just using some 6/4 stock, cut a square the same size as your lathe swing and make a small platter or round box.

Have fun!

-- Witty signature line still pending

View Dave Dufour's profile

Dave Dufour

248 posts in 800 days

#7 posted 12-09-2013 08:14 PM

First try, you did good.
Like the shape also.

-- Dave, from Canada,

View mds2's profile


266 posts in 766 days

#8 posted 12-09-2013 08:32 PM

I love the thickness of it. It gives it a nice visual weight, yet still has delicate smooth lines.

View Don W's profile

Don W

15930 posts in 1389 days

#9 posted 12-09-2013 10:11 PM

well done

-- Master hand plane hoarder. -

View MarkTheFiddler's profile


1928 posts in 1010 days

#10 posted 12-09-2013 11:12 PM

Best dang planter I have ever seen! Well done.

-- Thanks for all the lessons!

View TerryDowning's profile


1040 posts in 939 days

#11 posted 12-09-2013 11:20 PM

Nicely done.

I would have been afraid (read terrified) of a chunk that size on my SS at 750 RPM. If you’re going to keep doing large pieces, I recommend a speed reducer.

-- - Terry

View Norm192's profile


41 posts in 463 days

#12 posted 12-09-2013 11:26 PM

Awesome first bowl! Keep up the good work.

View Diwayne's profile


252 posts in 1512 days

#13 posted 12-09-2013 11:39 PM

Great first or otherwise.

-- What one man can do, another man can also do.

View BobWemm's profile


905 posts in 747 days

#14 posted 12-10-2013 12:13 AM

Great job and finish on a real challenge piece of wood. It is very easy to make the inside bigger than the outside on a lump of wood with all those missing and soft (punky) bits.
So congratulations on a job well done.

-- Bob, Western Australia, The Sun came up this morning, what a great start to the day. Now it's up to me to make it even better.

View doubleDD's profile


3113 posts in 864 days

#15 posted 12-10-2013 01:16 AM

Turned out great Nice work. I guess you could say the good, the bad, and the ugly.

-- Dave, Downers Grove, Il. When you run out of ideas, start building your dreams

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