Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Baxter, Tennessee
Well first of all, no matter what everyone tells you, you have to find your own way. Every area is different and the species we use are different.
I either turn them thin 1/2" for bigger bowls and 1/4" for small ones. Then I simply let them dry for a day or so and sand them. The really thin ones will often dry enough on the lathe to sand right there. I finish them and put them up to let them warp. Then I sand the bottom flat so it sits on the table correctly.
Many of us do what we call twice turned. Turn the bowls to approximately 10% thickness for the size of the bowl. For example a 12" bowl would be roughly 1" thick through out. Then put them up and let them dry for about 6 months depending on where you live. Then you re-turn them later. This is the only way to get perfectly round bowls.
The drying is the hard part. If you put a bowl up on a shelf in a hot garage it will most surely crack. I seal the end grain portions with Anchorseal and then store them on the floor for about a month or two. Then I'll move them up on the shelf. If you can weight them. When they stop losing weight they are ready to turn. I can never remember to do that but I rough out enough bowls than whenever I want to turn a dry bowl I always have a blank on the shelf that is dry.
Some people recommend wrapping newspaper around the outside of the bowls and then place them on a wire shelf upside down. I've tried it and it does seem to work. I just don't have the space to do that so I seal the endgrain and pile them in a corner. If it's a species that is really prone to cracking I'll seal all of the outside and the endgrain on the inside and just wait longer to re-turn it.