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Faceplate Turning
Simple Bowl
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From: Book: Learn To Turn

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Because this is a simple bowl, do yourself a favor and use a simple, gradual shape for your bowl as indicated. When you gain more experience, you can be as creative as you want to be. But for your first bowl, keep it simple!

Bowl Safety Tip
When first starting your unbalanced bowl blank, bring up the tailstock to support the blank. A good habit is to use the tailstock as much as possible to support your work when turning.
Tools and Supplies
• 1/2" bowl gouge with fingernail profile
• Curved scraper and round nose scraper
• Four-jawed chuck and mini-jumbo jaws
• Faceplate and 1-1/4" square drive screws
• Double-ended calipers
• Dividers or compass
• Sanding pads and sandpaper in assorted grits
• Wood of choice (ambrosia maple, 8" in diameter x 4" thick)
• Lathe (speed set to 500 to 1500 rpm)
• Finish (salad bowl finish)


Curved scraper and round nose scraper

Double-ended calipers

Four-jawed chuck and mini-jumbo jaws

This article is excerpted from Learn To Turn by Barry Gross. Click here to purchase this book.
Find the center of the bowl blank and mount a faceplate to it using 1-3/4 " square drive screws.
Attach the faceplate to the headstock and bring up the tailstock as support for the unbalanced bowl blank. Rotate the hand brake to ensure that the blank does not strike the tool rest. The lathe speed should be the minimum, or approximately 500 rpm.
Starting at the tailstock and working forward toward the headstock using a ½ " bowl gouge, take very small bites to get the blank as balanced as you can.
True up the face of the blank (make it level) and create a spigot for the four-jawed chuck. Note the nice clean shavings coming off the bowl blank because the tool is cutting in the bevel-rubbing mode.
Starting at the edge of the blank and cutting from the back to the front all in one motion to avoid a stepped surface, continue the gradual shaping of the bowl.
A divider set is used to mark the appropriate width for the four-jawed chuck. Make sure that the right side of the divider does not come in contact with the spinning bowl.

This article is excerpted from Learn To Turn by Barry Gross. Click here to purchase this book.
Using a bowl gouge, reduce the diameter of the spigot so it will fit into the chuck.
If the shape of the bowl is to your satisfaction, sand the blank at this time with a power sander, removing all tool marks and scratches. Do not be afraid to use more aggressive sandpaper if you still have tool marks in your bowl. Sandpaper can be your best way to remove unwanted tool marks.
Once all of the tool marks and scratches are removed, use sanding pads, such as Abralon pad, as the final sanding step.
Reverse the bowl and place it into the four-jawed chuck.
Starting at the edge of the bowl and working toward the center, make sure that the bevel of the bowl gouge is parallel to the surface of the bowl. In addition, the wall thickness should be established at this point. Remember, we are just beginning, so the wall thickness does not have to be razor thin.With the lathe turned off, you can see how the gouge is positioned to start cutting toward the center.
With the lathe turned off, you can see how the gouge is positioned to start cutting toward the center.

This article is excerpted from Learn To Turn by Barry Gross. Click here to purchase this book.
Continue cutting with the bevel rubbing all the way toward the center of the bowl. Practice making one pass from the beginning of the cut to the end to ensure a smooth surface inside the bowl.
The wall thickness should be checked at this point using double-ended calipers to make certain that a uniform thickness is maintained. Remove approximately 1" of wall material at a time so the fibers of the wood are always supported by the ones below it. Removing too much wall material from the inside at any given time makes it more difficult to maintain a smooth interior.
Take any flat edge and place it across the face of the bowl. Use a ruler to measure the depth of the bowl.
Transfer the flat edge to the top of the bowl to see how much more material you need to remove.
When the correct depth is obtained, use a round nose scraper to remove the nub left at the bottom of the bowl. Make sure that the bottom of the bowl is flat and does not have any bumps or ridges. Remember, when using any scraper, you must be slightly above the centerline of the bowl.
Power sand the inside of the bowl, making sure that your dust extraction system is near.

This article is excerpted from Learn To Turn by Barry Gross. Click here to purchase this book.
I chose the wavy sanding discs from New Wave because the waves on the disc conform to the inside of the bowl and do not leave scratch lines.
Finally, sand the inside of the bowl using sanding pads, such as the Abralon pad, to remove any microscratches and to offer the best possible surface for the finish.
For beginners, Oneway offers a revolving center that has an adapter so the bowl can be transferred from a four-jawed chuck to mini-jumbo jaws to reverse chuck the bowl, ensuring that the bowl is perfectly aligned and will run absolutely true.
The bowl is being held in place by the mini-jumbo jaws so the bottom of the bowl can be turned.
Remove the spigot from the bottom with a small bowl gouge, taking small bites each time.
Place a straight edge across the bottom of the bowl and make certain
that there is a slight concave surface.

This article is excerpted from Learn To Turn by Barry Gross. Click here to purchase this book.
Add a little decoration, such as lines or small coves, to the bottom of the bowl.
Do not forget to sign your work.
Because this is a bowl that will come into contact with food, apply a coat of salad bowl finish.
Once the bowl has dried, use a 4000-grit sanding pad, like this Abralon one, to lightly sand the bowl, and apply another coat of salad bowl finish.

This article is excerpted from Learn To Turn by Barry Gross. Click here to purchase this book.