Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Baxter, Tennessee
Absolutely. You have to turn it in one sitting. If you stop for any reason cover it with a plastic bag so it won't even think about drying. Turn it down to 3/8" or less in thickness. This includes the foot. You need an even thickness through out to prevent cracking.
Here is the procedure I use for natural edge bowls. First off chisel a hole through the bark near the center of the blank. Some people do this with 2 or 3" forestner bit. I mount theblank between centers with the bark toward the headstock. As you rotate the blank by hand you will have 2 high points and 2 low points. I adjust either the tail center or drive center until the 2 high points are the same distance from the headstock. This balances the bowl visually when your finished but may throw it out of balance for now. Don't worry about that. Now tighten the tailstock. I usually lock the headstock and rotate the bowl back and forth to bury the drive center better. I advance the tailstock while doing this to make everything solid.
Now rough out the outside of the bowl and turn a tenon for your chuck. If you don't have a chuck turn a tenon the same size as your faceplate. Flatten or part off the bottom so it's flat or slightly concave. This helps it sit flat on the faceplate. If using a chuck make the tenon shorter than the jaws are tall.
Finish turning the outside of the bowl except for the area around the foot. I usually turn from the foot of the bowl out toward the edge because this cuts down hill with the grain and produces less tearout. However, that last inch where the bark is can cause problems and you may tear the bark off. For that area I turn from the lip down and just try to take small bites with a very sharp tool to keep the grain tearout to a minimum.
When the outside it turned I sort of flash dry the surface with a hair dryer so I can sand without clogging the sandpaper. You have to be careful with this because too much heat will cause surface checks.
Reverse the bowl and put the tenon in the chuck. Now turn the inside. I spray the outside with water if it's taking very long to turn. If the outside starts drying it will start shrinking. The inside isn't drying and not shrinking. Something has to give, so keep the outside moist. I use a windex spray bottle filled with water.
Turn the inside from lip to base. If your new to turning thin turn the first inch as thin as you dare leaving the rest of the bowl thick. You can leave the middle thick or you can rough turn the bowl down to about an inch thick and then go back and turn the 1st inch thin. Then turn the next inch to the same thickness. DON'T GO BACK. Once you've turned it thin it will start to warp and if you try to go back you can blow up the bowl. Work your way down to the bottom.
When your done sand the inside and possible do the rest of the sanding on the outside. If it warps too much you may have to sand with the lathe off.
Now I put a rubber sink stopper over my chuck or faceplate (with wasteblock) and bring the tailstock up to push against the bottom of the bowl. You should still have the same hole you had from the beginning which makes lining it up easy.
Turn the foot and maybe the bottom 1/2" of the bowl depending on how much you left for your tenon area and how larger or small your foot is. Turn away all the wood except for a very small tenon around the tailcenter. Sand this area. Then remove the bowl and carve away the last little tenon.
If you really want to save the bowl and have left it an uneven thickness or left the bottom thick, put it in a paper sack for several days for the initial drying. If you turned it to 3/8" it will dry it 2 or 3 days to a week depending on your area.