Turning to the natural look
By Mike Kehs
There’s something particularly satisfying about turning a “natural-” or “live-edge” bowl. First of all, the scalloped lip and the elongated grain on the bottom of the bowl give it a pleasing oval appearance, and the intact bark on the edge imparts a distinct character not seen on typical bowls. Secondly, there’s a real joy in creating a bowl completely from its inception–beginning with selecting the log and “finding” the bowl within it, to bandsawing the blank and turning it into an object of beauty. Many novice turners are mystified as to how the unusual shape is created, but there’s no magic involved. It’s really all in how the bowl blank is cut from the log (see Figure 1 on page 40) and how it’s oriented on the lathe. There’s nothing particularly difficult to the technique, but there are a few tricks involved that I’ll explain, including how to select and cut an appropriate turning blank and how to best orient it to maximize aesthetics. No special tools are needed– just a 4-prong drive center, a 4-jaw chuck, a cup center, and a few typical turning tools.