Russell Kebble 12 February 2009

Russell, who is the resident woodturner at Ask Tools, gave a demonstration thisSee Russell's Photos evening on ‘aspects of a log’. He had brought with him a yew log measuring approximately 6” across by 8” long that he had split down the middle and which he planned to turn into two bowls, one with square edges, the other with a natural edge.

He started by turning the square edged bowl. He mounted the flat side of the log onto a screw chuck, with MDF backing to stop the screw going too far into the wood. He tidied up what was to be the base of the bowl using a bowl gouge with a long grind and then, using a parting tool, he turned a spigot to use as the foot and as a chucking point. Working with the long grind bowl gouge he turned a bowl shape in the middle of the piece, working towards the wings, which he planned to make about 6mm thick. He worked from the middle outwards for the bowl section then he worked from the outside towards the centre, making straight cuts, to form the wings which he only cut to around 8–10mm thick at this stage to allow him some leeway to finish them from the other side as that surface would almost certainly not be flat. Once he had finished the two surfaces – bowl and wings – he cut the area where the bowl emerged from the wings, using a ½” spindle gouge, to get a 45 degree angle at the join to make it appear as if the bowl dropped straight out of the top. To finish this side he locked the headstock and power sanded the underneath of the wings then, with the lathe running, he sanded the bowl using a sandmaster, stopping the lathe to sand any areas of tear out by hand. (See photos RK01,02,03,04 and 05).

Once the outside was finished Russell took it off the lathe and remounted the spigot in the jaws. Starting at the outside edge he worked in towards the centre, taking very light cuts so the gouge wouldn’t push through the gaps on the outside edge. He continued turning the wings until he had a nice, square finish and they were an even thickness of around 6mm. Once the wings were finished he turned the bowl in the usual way, taking great care not to catch the wings. Finally he sanded it using similar techniques to those he used on the outside. Russell explained that he would mount it on a jam chuck at home to tidy the foot so there would be no visible signs of him having mounted it on the lathe. (See photos RK06,07,08,09,10,11 and 12).

Russell mounted the second half of the log on the bark side, having first used an angle grinder to take off the high points and flatten the chucking point so it would sit properly against the piece of MDF on his screw chuck. With the lathe running quite slowly he carefully started to turn the outside of the bowl, increasing the speed as the work became more stable, although because of some splits in the wood he had problems as he worked round the outside edge and had to gradually cut through the splits until he had worked them away. After turning a spigot he continued refining the outside shape which he had to make deeper than he originally planned because of the split. However he eventually re-turned the foot and took some bulk from the bottom of the bowl as he felt it was becoming much deeper than he wanted it to be. After re-shaping it he sanded it with a sandmaster and used a power sander with the headstock locked to sand the outer tips. (See photos RK13,14,15 and 16).

After turning it round on the lathe he was faced with an interesting challenge as there was a fairly deep split along the whole length of the timber. He started turning it slowly so he didn’t catch the gouge on the high points then, once he was happy with it, he turned the speed up and gradually followed the shape of the outside, leaving the bulk in the middle to stop it flexing. The split in the timber gave Russell quite a few problems and it looked at times as if it could split into two but he didn’t want to stabilise it with superglue as that would mean he would have to stop turning it at the club as the glue could fly into people’s eyes. Eventually he was able to work through the split as he turned the bulk away from the middle, then he sanded it with the power sander, locking the headstock to sand the ends. As with the first bowl, he said he would finish the foot at home. (See photos RK17,18,19,20,21,22 and 23).

It was interesting to see two quite different bowls turned from the same log – the natural edged bowl that I would tend to go for and a winged bowl which I hadn’t considered turning before.Top of Page

Lorrie Flannery

SWC club member