Roughing Out

I get my hardwood logs and burls from a variety of places, such as firewood producers, sawmills, construction areas, storms, and people that I meet at shows throughout Ontario.

I begin by cutting the logs into lengths that are the same length as the diameter of the log.


The log is then split, making sure to cut it though the pith or center of the tree.


I then will round the blanks on the bandsaw. This will speed up production. I burn the offcuts for heat for my studio and home.


The bowl blank is then placed between centers, and the outside profile is roughed out and placed aside. (I like to do them of batches of 40 or more). I put a foot on the bottom of the bowl so that my chuck can grip it to do the inside.


I now core out the inside, keeping the overall thickness the same throughout the bowl. This will aid in the drying process, and hopefully prevent cracking. The thickness will depend upon the overall diameter. As a general rule for every 10” inch bowl in diameter, you will require a 1” inch thickness, so if a bowl is 20” inches in diameter, it will need to be 2” inches thick. The reason for this is because the bowl will warp and move during drying. Now we wait a year! Yup that’s right, one year of drying time, and then prior to finish turning they are placed into a kiln and dried to 7% moisture content. This will ensure that if the bowl is going to crack, it will crack during the drying process and not after you get it home!


Finish Turning


Now the bowl blank is fully dry and it’s time to finish the piece. I hot melt glue a waste block, and face plate to the bottom of the bowl. I then mount it onto the lathe.


I turn it down to its final thickness, and sand it to 400 grit.


I will apply at least 3 coats of Generals Salad Bowl Finish, using 0000 steel wool between applications, and buff the final coat with White Diamond buffing compound.


Once I remove the bowl with a parting tool, the bottom is the last thing that needs to get finished.


The bottom is finished by holding the bowl with a vacuum chuck that uses vacuum pressure. After the piece is signed and numbered, three coats of finish are added to the bottom.


There you have it, a beautiful bowl made by yours truly,

Jim Sprague.