View Full Version : First bowl and some questions

Phillip Key
11-30-2009, 11:49 AM
Much more successful than my last attempt at a bowl (http://www.sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?t=125525):)

Apologies for the front seat of the car cellphone pics.


* The smoother, redder wood without spalting was harder than the rest. This made it difficult for me to make the bowl round, as my tool kept bouncing. I found that I got the best results when I clamped the tool against the rest with my left hand and used very light pressure on the end of the handle with my right. Is there a better way to handle this?

* Right next to the smoother sections, I found it impossible to get rid of roughness completely. This is easiest to see in the second photo. What's the best way to smooth this out?

* As you can see, my improvised jam chuck did a number on the inside bottom of the bowl. I'm going to make a better one. I'm thinking craft foam glued to the top of a rounded-over glue block. Any tips?

Alan Trout
11-30-2009, 12:06 PM
A very sharp tool is the key to help prevent tearout. Some spalted wood tends to be on the punky side so not knowing for sure what this wood is like it is hard to say. I have had to use shellac, thin CA, or lacquer, on these punky surfaces to stiffen the fibers enough to get them to cut. Shear scraping with a bowl gouge or a scraper with a sharp fresh burr will sometimes do it.

By the way you are doing a good job. It just takes time and practice and you will figure it out. Turning time and different experiences are the key to learning techniques.


Steve Schlumpf
11-30-2009, 12:06 PM
Phillip - congrats on getting your first bowl turned! Looks pretty good!

The problems you experienced are common when dealing with heavily spalted wood. The area of wood where you got the most tear-out is really punky - meaning is has decayed to the point of becoming rotten and is getting very soft. Most of the time the only way to get really clean cuts in it is to use a higher speed on the lathe, a very sharp gouge and take very light cuts. A lot of folks harden the wood first - using some form of diluted glue, epoxy or commercial wood hardener.

The problem with your jam chuck leaving a ring is caused by not having enough pressure on the tailstock - which allows the bowl to spin slightly - burning the area of contact. Fix action is to apply slightly more pressure or you can use foam, cloth or whatever as a cushion - but will still have to apply slightly more pressure to prevent spin.

Hope that helps. Looking forward to seeing completed bowl #2!

Bernie Weishapl
11-30-2009, 12:13 PM
Ditto what Steve said. Bowl looks pretty good for your first. Date it, sign it and keep it. You can look back a year or two from now and compare. On my jam chucks I put a old mouse pad over the end. This will keep it from marring the bowl. I use CA glue if the area is not to big. If it is a big area I mix 5 min epoxy and then mix that with Denatured Alcohol to the consistancy of milk. I paint it on till it won't take anymore then let it dry for 24 hrs and finish turning. If all else fails get out the 60 or 80 grit gouge as Bill Grumbine says.

David Christopher
11-30-2009, 12:38 PM
Phillip, you bowl looks good....dont forget that sandpaper is your friend

sometimes sandpaper is the only tool that wiil work

Michael E. Thompson
11-30-2009, 12:44 PM
Phillip, I like the bowl as well. I am a sucker for spalted wood. As said, sharp tools are most important for eliminating tear out, and go slow.

I cannot remember were I got this tip so I can't give proper credit, but for the jam chuck, I simply take a PVC fitting and put it in my chuck. I have a couple different size reducers (fittings) to accommodate different bowls and put an old mouse pad between the bowl and fitting. If you don't have a chuck use your faceplate, attach a piece of wood, cut flat, put a groove in the face of the wood the same diameter as the PVC fitting and glue it in groove. I used my gouge to round of the edge of the PVC. Quick, easy, always ready and I have not had a problem.


David E Keller
11-30-2009, 1:02 PM
Looks good... That's a pretty tough piece of wood for a first bowl. I agree with what's been said already. Bill grumbine's video is a good one and I've watched several by Jimmy Clewes that are full of tips for dealjg with difficult wood. I recently bought a power sanding attachment for my drill, and it has made a huge difference in the time it takes to get a good finish. It's no substitute for good tool technique but it makes the required sanding faster and easier.

It looks like you are off to a great start.

Wally Dickerman
11-30-2009, 1:06 PM
Phillip, I'm a believer in the saying, "life is too short to turn crappy wood". The soft, punky wood that you've used is difficult for experienced turners to turn. Save that kind of wood for later. You just frustrate yourself using it.

When your gouge cut gets lumpy just go back and start another cut and go under the lumpy stuff.

Always cut with the grain for best results, especially in final cuts. On the outside, cut from small diameter to large with a facegrain bowl. Compare it to using a hand plane against the grain...you get a torn surface.


Phillip Key
11-30-2009, 1:32 PM
Thanks for the tips everyone. Looks like I don't even have to go to the store for craft foam. I have a drawer full of PVC fittings and a stack of old mousepads and never would have thought to use either!

I thought the wood would be difficult when I picked it out of the pile, but I really like spalted wood and figured at worst I'd just have another explosion. I've got some more blanks cut that look like they should be easier to turn.

The pictures were taken in the car because I'm going to run over to my dad's house after work and get some tips from him too. He's been turning for years and I inherited most of the tools in my shop from him, including my lathe and turning tools.

Kyle Iwamoto
11-30-2009, 2:25 PM
For punky wood, I use my favorite tool, 80 grit gouge. In fact, I use that on all my bowls, since I suck at turning.:)