Achieve an Even Height on a Natural Edge archive

Friday 16 November 2012

Philip Greenwood shows how to achieve an even edge on all your natural edge turnings

Gallery

How many times have we turned a natural edge bowl only to see one end is higher than the other or uneven sides? I will describe here the particular method I use on all my natural edge bowls. A bowl that looks level will always be more pleasing to the eye. I am sure some of you will use a different method to achieve an even height. When turning natural edge bowls I always wear a full-face mask as small pieces of bark will, and do, come off. As with any timber with bark, your tools can blunt quickly; this can be down to small pieces of grit in the bark cavities if the timber was laid on the ground. This type of bowl can be turned with dry or wet timber.

Prepare the blank

This may not apply if you have bought a natural edge bowl blank from your wood suppliers, but if preparing it yourself from a round branch or from a trunk, this is the method I use. Look at the bark on the top edge and cut the log in half trying to keep the cut parallel with the outside edge of the bark. This will help when we come to bandsaw the bowl blank. If using a bandsaw, tilt the table to achieve this.

Bandsaw the bowl blank

Once you have prepared the blank, the piece of timber now needs to be cut round using a bandsaw. The best way to achieve this is with a cardboard disc of the correct size for the bowl; this is determined by the width of the piece of timber. Once this is done, you can now fix the disc with a drawing pin or something suitable, then cut round the disc. You don't need to be too accurate here as you will see when we mount the bowl blank on the lathe in the next step.

Mount the bowl blank and check with the toolrest

37mm in diameter from the centre with a small hand chisel; this will help the next process. Now mark the centre on both ends. Now place a revolving centre in the tailstock and drive centre in the headstock; this can be a two- or four-prong centre or a steb centre. Now mount the bowl blank with the bark facing the headstock end, but only tighten the tailstock very lightly so the bowl blank is just holding on the points only. Place the toolrest close to the bark top face, rotate by hand and look at the gap at both ends first. Now move the blank on the centre points until you have an even gap at both ends; now do the same at the sides. Once this is done, tighten the tailstock fully.

Check the ends and sides

Rough turn and stop the lathe, check the gap again and adjust if needed. Finish the outside and cut your spigot. Remember the rough edges; you may need to hand sand to a finish. Now turn the bowl around and complete the inside.


Woodworkers Institute

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Philip Greenwood , workshop know-how