I want to turn bowls......... - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 12 Old 01-02-2008, 07:24 AM Thread Starter
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I want to turn bowls.........

Alright all, I REALLY want to turn some small bowls, but I don't think I have the tools to do so.

I do have a JET mini lathe, a nova chuck, and a basic set of knives. The knives are from HF. They do a decent job of cutting after I resharpened them all.

What bowl gauge(s) do I need to get started?

Do I get green or dried wood?

Help please!!!!!!!!!!!
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post #2 of 12 Old 01-02-2008, 08:39 AM
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A ˝" diameter Thompson bowl gouge; you have to use your HF tools to make your custom handle. They are made with the best tool steel and are the best value.


May I also suggest the 1st DVD by Bill Grumbine, "Turned Bowl Made Easy". You are good to go. Don't rush into buying too many tools now. There may be so many things that you will "need" (actually want) down in this vortex, chain saw, band saw, sander ....

Find a local chapter and attend its meetings. Most of them have hands-on class and mentoring program for almost free. That will shorten your learning curve.

AAW Local Chapter Listing - The American Association of Woodturners

Have fun.

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post #3 of 12 Old 01-02-2008, 01:40 PM
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All the advice above is good advice but if you want to get started, don't have any wood,etc etc. Get yourself a 2"x 8" piece of construction lumber2x8 at Home Depot. Cut a piece 5"x5" square. Use a compass and draw the biggest circle you can get on this piece. If you have a band saw cut the circle out. Install the faceplate with the wood on the lathe. Use any kind of gouge and turn the mini lathe on and begin turning slowly.That is how I started turning just over a year ago with the same set up you have. If you turn this one block nice and round, then cut 3 blocks and glue them together and dry then put on the lathe again and your ready to try your first bowl. If you know how to turn a spigot on the tailstock end, do so then shape the outside of the bowl. Turn the spigot and put in your chuck and turn out the center. This will keep you busy learning for a while. I can't think of an easier and cheaper way to start turning and your not ruining good wood. Later you can try turning wet wood. Build some confidence before doing anything else. I made some beautiful bowls using pine lumber. Only thing you don't want to do Ben is to sit back and not do anything but think about turning, no one can learn for you, you need to learn by trial and error if you can't go to classes or have turning friends. It's easy, it's fun. Work safely. If you want take a look in my gallery, just click on my gallery and see some of the stuff I turned on my lathe in the past year. The bigger turnings were on a Nova lathe but the littler ones were turned on my mini Jet. If you still don't know what tool to start with go talk to a salesperson at Woodcraft tell him what you intend to do and ask what tool would be best for you to start with. Good luck man and I hope this helps you a little bit. If it does and you have questions you can message me with them if you want. Good luck, Mitch
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post #4 of 12 Old 01-02-2008, 03:14 PM
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I agree with both of the above. Especially the Bill Grumbine video. If fact I would be tempted to get that first because he discusses what tools you need. I have several Thompson tools and think they are some of the best tools out there and certainly the best bargain right now. You will have to make a handle for them but he has instructions on the website.
If you turn a shallow bowl that doesn't have steep sides. You can do that with a spindle gouge. I'm talking about a bowl that is just a little deeper than a platter and just slopes in toward the middle. Take a short piece of chain about 6" long and hold it so it dips about 1 to 1 1/2" deep in the middle. This is the kind of curve that can easily be done with a spindle gouge.
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post #5 of 12 Old 01-02-2008, 04:55 PM Thread Starter
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I suppose I wasn't very clear in my post. I have been turning for about a year now, but never bowls. I have become pretty good at Pepper Mills, bottle stoppers, ect..... only small stuff.

I've wanted to try my hand at bowls for a while now, but never quite sure which tools/ guages to buy.

Does anyone have a copy of that DVD they would like to sell?

Thanks for all the input guys.

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post #6 of 12 Old 01-02-2008, 06:18 PM
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I have turned bowls with a skew Chisel(Outside) and a round nosed scraper(Inside). With these two tools I have turned large( for me) bowls and a rectangular platter (19.5" x 10.5" x 3") it got scary at times but I took my time and small bites, so you dont have to rush out and buy a whole load of new tools yet. A good bowl gouge is handy though
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post #7 of 12 Old 01-02-2008, 06:53 PM Thread Starter
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what size is a good all around bowl guage?

I would think that a smaller one would be best. It can do the job of a larger one, just takes more time. Am I wrong here?
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post #8 of 12 Old 01-02-2008, 07:04 PM
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Smaller size is supposed to be able to get a slightly better finish cut. But the down side is it can't extend over the tool rest much. Small tool is likely to vibrate and chatter. Even if you have a curved tool rest, sometimes you just can't move the tool rest close enough. Chattering is difficult to sand out. For a mini lathe, I would prefer a ˝" diameter bowl gouge if I only get one.

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post #9 of 12 Old 01-03-2008, 07:32 PM
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Good link on turning bowls from green wood: http://www.customwooddesign.com/turninggreenwood-1.html
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post #10 of 12 Old 01-19-2011, 12:52 PM
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3/8" bowl gouge is my fav size
have done bowls far bigger than your mini lathe can do with no problem and it is small enough to turn small bowls.
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post #11 of 12 Old 01-19-2011, 03:47 PM
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Bill Grumbine, "Turned Bowl Made Easy" is a great dvd to start with, my copy went home with last Saturdays student. also I'm starting this student out with green wood for his first bowl, it easier to show the ribbons of shaving of each cut that a gouge can make form heavy to sear with less tear out. just my opinion. I have been using a Sorby 1/2 gouge with a standard grind. but I am changing to the Thompson gouges soon.


"Just because your not bleeding, don't mean your turning safely"..
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post #12 of 12 Old 01-19-2011, 10:03 PM
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Along with others I suggest Bill Grumbines video, however, as the first video I would suggest Lyle Jamiesons "Bowl Basics, the Easy Way". It is a two-dvd set and he only turns one bowl. Every step is gone over in detail. Bill shows some thing Lyle doesn’t and vice versa.
Remember that many forums have classifieds. I have purchased about ten dvds over the last couple of years and sold each for 2/3 – 3/4 of the original price in just a day or so. Not bad once you have gotten all the good you can from them; more funds to buy more.
For bowl gouges, like the others 3/8" or 1/2". Remember, a Brit 3/8 gouge is the same size as a US 1/2 gouge. The Brits measure across the flute, in the US it is the thickness of the stock.
You can start with either wet or dry.
If you already have a chuck, place it between centers, turn the outside and then turn a recess (or tenon) for the chuck to grab.
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