How to make bowl blanks - DIY Guide

How to make bowl blanks - DIY Guide


Woodturning is the art of cutting a symmetrical shape around the axis of rotation using a wood lathe and hand-held tools. Like the potter's wheel, the wood lathe is a simple device that can produce a variety of shapes. This hobby has seen an increase in popularity in recent times. One of the most common being the use of bowl blanks to build bowls. Bowl blank is a stock of wood that has been prepared and appropriately dimensioned to form various objects on a wood-turning lathe.

The best-suited woods for bowl blanks.

Woodturning has the advantage of being able to use almost all species of trees from any section of the tree. Some branches are stronger than others in terms of stability or turning ease, but any tree can be used. The wood is less likely to warp or shift during drying or machining if it is stable. This is ideal for turning wood on a lathe. Some of the top picks are as follows Maple, Ambrosia maple, Osage orange, Basswood, Walnut and Spanish cedar.

Selecting the perfect wood

Wood for bowl turning or some other service piece is chosen with the utmost care. Utility wood must be free of cracks and defects. Another explanation is that this wood comes from the tree's trunk. A service piece's durability and functionality can be harmed by any flaw. Although wormholes in the bottom of your bowl can be fun, they reduce their utility.

Size of bowl blanks 

Depending on the size of the bowl being turned, bowl blanks vary in size from 4 by 4 inches to 12 by 12 inches. These blanks are available in a range of thicknesses from 2 inches to 6 inches. Slender shapes of different heights are made from longer blanks varying in dimension from 1 by 1 inch to 4 by 4 inch. These blanks are normally 6 to 12 inches in length.

The tools you will need

Larger trees and branches need a larger gas chainsaw. For most logs larger than 10 inches in diameter, a gas chainsaw would be perfect. When working with large full-size timber, the strength and torque are advantageous. Electric chainsaws can easily handle limbs and trees up to eight or ten inches in diameter, and they are much quieter than their gas counterparts. Since they do not emit fumes like gas chainsaws, corded electric chainsaws are ideal for fast cuts. It's important to keep the blade teeth sharp on all chainsaws and have an extra chain on hand. If you're making larger bowl blanks, say more than seven or eight inches in diameter, you'll need a bandsaw with at least a 12 inch blade to cut them into a more manageable cylinder.

Let's get started

  1. Logs with a diameter of more than eight inches make excellent bowls, but they need a little more attention during the green wood bowl blank making process.
  2. One of the easiest ways to minimise cracking is to break the log in half after cutting it to the desired length. If the bowl blank isn't going to be turned right away, add at least six inches to the diameter.
  3. The chainsaw is the perfect tool for splitting a log in half. This method would also benefit from the use of a basic wood cutting rack.
  4. Locate the pith on both ends of the log by laying it on its side. Start cutting through the bark by visualising an imaginary line connecting the two ends.
  5. You'll end up with two green wood bowl blank halves when you're done.
  6. These blanks would be sealed with a water soluble wax sealant to prevent cracking.

Things to avoid

  1. Avoid limb wood when choosing wood for turning blanks and instead opt for trunk logs with little knots.
  2. End grain bowls are more difficult to transform than face grain bowls, and end grain bowls are more likely to break.
  3. Do not slash into the end grain by standing the line on its end. This takes longer and risks overheating and dulling the chain.
  4. Since the wood is the most stable, you can cut wood bowl blanks from the tree's trunk. The amount of wood movement would be increased by the upper limbs. Additionally, cracking, especially near the bowl's rim, would be more of a problem.
  5. It's best to extract the pith, particularly if you're working on a practical wood-turning project. This would extend the life of the piece you create significantly. 
  6. Crotches aren't usually useful for making utility parts out of. Expect some distortion since the wood in a crotch can be, and sometimes is, very unstable.

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