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Just before the 4th of July and my week off, I attended a demo by Michael Mode at the Front Range Woodturners club which meets at the local Denver Rockler store.

He does some amazing stuff (I’ll wait while you go click that link.)

He did an excellent job at the demo, showing not only the method of making this type of bowl, but his use of a strobe light to “freeze” long pieces of wood.

I thought that I could do a bowl like this, so in the week following I took a piece of wood that I had gotten from one of the folks at WoodBarter (Ralph Muhs) that was labeled “Mystery Wood”. And it is a mystery, it still hasn’t been identified. Here’s how it turned out:

It’s not too bad but I can definitely see where it needs work. So I started bowl #2. This is a piece of walnut that I also received from Ralph over at WoodBarter. It started out about 10″ square (because that’s all I can put up on my lathe.) I then laid out and cut the pieces. You can see here one side of the bowl is laid out flat and the other side is stacked up.

stacked and flat

Since you cut the slices out at an angle they’ll stack up with a bit of overlap. The first bowl was 5 rings, this one is 6. It means that the walls will start out thinner. On the near side you can see that I used a sharpie to put a couple of lines on the edges. The other side has just a single line. Those lines aren’t to help line up the pieces but merely to distinguish them so you get the pieces glued up how you want them. If you’re trying to get the grain to follow around then you can’t be switching sides when you stack and glue.

So the next step is to glue them up. You want a lot of glue to ensure you get a good bond all the way across. Here’s a view of them glued and with weights on them.

stacked, glued, under pressure

After the sides have set up you need to flatten them so that the seam is as tight as it can be. I ended up marking the faces with pencil and using 80 grit sandpaper to get them flat – probably because I should have spent a bit more time trying to get the edges just right when I was gluing the half rings. I then finished up with some 220 and here they are with the sides glued together.

all glued up

After this had all dried I sanded the bottom smooth and then used some thick CA to glue on a block.

glue block attached

I did this because I had an issue with the first one. Since the outside is turned and finished first, I can do that with putting the blank between the tailstock and the Cole jaws. The Cole jaws aren’t doing much more than supporting the top of the bowl. Since I have a 10×14 lathe this is about the largest bowl I can create which means I can’t put the support of the Cole jaws on the outside of the bowl. When I turned it around to turn the inside I had issues with getting it centered. I got it good enough to do the inside, but I ended up using my 60 and 80 grit turning tools. At that point I wanted to touch up the outside to remove some of the blemishes that I knew were there but I no longer had a way to hold it securely.

I spent an hour talking with rbaccus over on the WoodBarter forum and he was very nice about sharing some tricks and techniques, one of which was that he frequently uses glue blocks. I think that having the center marked while turning the outside and then using a screw chuck when I flip it around will help this bowl turn out better.

I hope to get to spend the time this weekend turning on the bowl and I’ll keep taking pictures so I can continue the saga.