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So many questions on turning a bowl...

Joined
Mar 6, 2020
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Location
Cambridge, OH
Hi, I'm new to turning and want to focus on bowls (for now). I live in rural Ohio, over an hour away from the nearest AAW club and given COVID times I doubt there's much in-person mentoring going on anyway. So I'm stuck learning this on my own and it's a bit daunting. My main question is a recommendation for videos (online or for purchase) to help me learn this skill. I'm overwhelmed by the variety and quantity and wasn't sure who to trust. Secondly, I live on 7 acres of wooded property and I border an even larger wooded area, so I want to learn more about finding my own wood for blanks but I have no eye for it. Are some wood species more amenable to turning bowls that I should be looking for? How freshly fallen does the tree need to be? (is just no obvious sign of rot enough?). I'm ignorant about whether I should be turning green wood or letting it dry first and the pros and cons of each. I'm all set up and ready to go and have done a couple practice bowls with blanks but I want to take this hobby to the next level. Thanks!
 

Roger Wiegand

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Welcome down the rabbit hole!

A great place to find video content is on the AAW site: https://www.woodturner.org/Woodturner/Gregory/WoodFunLandingPage.aspx These videos have been curated so that you can avoid the worst of youtube.

Almost any wood can be turned, you'll find it easiest to start with green wood. In NE Ohio you should readily find maple and cherry as well as oaks and a host of outer suitable hardwoods. Maple is wonderful to learn on and typically abundant. In general hardwoods are easier to work with than conifers. If wood has been down long chances are good it will have cracks you need to be aware of, let you get unintended separations on the lathe. Freshly felled wood will be the safest place to start, or on bigger logs cut the checked ends off until you get to sound wood. For small pieces the firewood pile is a great and convenient source!

Lots of clubs and individual pros are doing live remote demos these days; not quite as good as in person instruction, but they can be very helpful. Getting involved with a club now will help when in-person meetings again become sensible. Some of the mentors will do online one-on-one coaching sessions.
 

hockenbery

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Soft maple red or silver is a good wood for learning. Tulip Poplar too.
Any of the softer hardwood are good to learn with.

1. you need to begin your education by teaching yourself to sharpen.
Get a bowl gouge, spindle gouge, parting tool, and round nose scraper.
The AAW has a video and pdf book you can down load
https://www.woodturner.org/Woodturn...spx?hkey=b906c020-d0c5-4240-a677-c2ccb6d6e4f5

Here is pdf that gives an overview of gouges from a club demo I do called gouges 101.
http://aaw.hockenbery.net/tgouge intro.pdf

2. start with spindles using the bowl gouge to learn the tools.
I start my beginning bowl students with a carving malet. This is turned between centers and is a good way to
Get comfortable with the bowl gouge and spindle gouge. The cherry is the one I have been using for 20+ years
The lighter wood is one I did in class demo as the students worked though it.
3D444A63-4615-4B79-993E-23CCB2681A05.jpeg

3. This is good overview of the whole process. The videos are suitable for the beginner.
But don’t stress the basics as much as those by Glen Lucas.
I started a thread - it shows the whole process from log to bowl ready for sanding.
https://www.aawforum.org/community/index.php?threads/working-with-green-wood.11626/
It is a recap of a demo I do for woodturning clubs.
It has slides about working with green wood, video of turning a green bowl for drying, and a video of mounting and returning a dried bowl.
 
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hockenbery

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When you look at videos from people who have vastly different methods it can be confusing.
Lyle Jamieson, Trent Bosch, Al Stirt, Rudy Lopez, - these folks turn similarly to the way I do using a side ground gouge and all have a similarity to David Ellsworth’s style. If you watch my bowl video and theirs you will see similar styles with similar tool grinds turning bowls. The concepts from one reinforce the concepts from the others,

Glenn Lucas does excellent videos- the down side for a beginner is in some demos he will use 3 -4 different bowl gouges which can be overwhelming for a beginner who has yet to master one. He does show the basic cuts extremely well so I recommend his videos.
Glen IMHO is the best Utilitarian bowl turner out there

Stewart Batty videos are excellent. If you go the Batty route. Then stick with the Batty videos. Stewarts methods are a little bit geared toward turning Exotic hardwoods. Stewart always uses 2 bowl gouges because his go to gouge can’t hollow a bowl very deeply.
 
Joined
May 4, 2010
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Bozeman, MT
Having helped with the woodworking club at our local high school for a number of years, I am very familiar with brand new turners.
  • Safety is extremely important--people have died while woodturning--and there's no substitute for having someone experienced pointing out things you're doing that might be unsafe. If this is not possible, you owe it to yourself and those who care about you to pay extra attention.
  • I second Al's suggestion to start with spindle work. You will learn a great deal about tools and tool control and sharpening in the process.
  • When you switch to bowl turning, the wood grain will be oriented differently, so the way the tools meet the wood will be different. This simple fact is extraordinarily important in learning to turn. One way to start on bowls that is cheap and reasonably safe, is to cut some square blocks of 2X4 or 2X6, mount them and turn a few bowls. You will use all the basic methods of making larger and more sophisticated bowls in the process.
  • Starting from a log and making a bowl brings in all kinds of additional things to learn, especially chain saw safety. You have a wealth of future project wood readily available, but I would encourage you to be patient. (One turner I know actually got a lathe and started turning with a bench chisel because his wood turning tools hadn't arrived yet. Didn't he, John;)) You'll get to it soon enough.
  • Lastly, the AAW has a very helpful resource in its Woodturning FUNdamentals feature. It's print material, available online to members, but at least the Safety booklet would be an excellent place to begin. Their Explore! feature is a curated collection of videos that can provide a more visual introduction.
Good luck and welcome to the Vortex.
 
Joined
Jun 6, 2018
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La Grange, IL
Here is a recent thread on books for beginners:

https://www.aawforum.org/community/index.php?threads/woodturning-books.16593/

There may be some in person learning options coming back, if you are willing to take the contact risk.

The Marc Adams School in Indiana has re-opened and has some intro to turning classes. It's a great experience, but not cheap.

Our Chicago club has also started to offer cautious classes. Contact those one hour away clubs, they may know of something.
 

hockenbery

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I don’t see classes and mentoring becoming widely available until Covid becomes a rarity.
Maybe by spring. New York had it pretty much in control for a while the Midwest is getting hit hard now.
All indications are that it will get worse in the coming months.

After you you learn the basics of Safety and how to sharpen.

8 minute video below may get you started with tips on using the bowl gouge and shows how cuts you can use in spindles are used in bowls.

the whole secret of turning is to always crosscut the wood with the turning cuts when you can.

Put a 3x3x7 on the lathe, wear a face shield.
Video shows using a bowl gouge to turn a spindle ( long grain parallel to the lathe bed, end grain to the centers)
It also demonstrates how the same cuts used in the spindle are used in a bowl. Bowl blanks are mounted long grain perpendicular to the lathe bed with the face grain to the centers.

SideGround gouge Push & Pull cuts -
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I05IYkb06Jc
 
Joined
Dec 28, 2019
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Location
Tallahassee, FL
Check to see if your club (the one an hour and half away) is meeting via zoom. I guess one of the mixed blessings of covid is that more clubs are meeting remotely allowing members a chance to meet even if physically meetings aren't taking place. Zoom meetings aren't as good as physical ones but they're better than nothing and there are a lot of great remote demos going on. Welcome! :)
 
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Joined
Aug 14, 2007
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Eugene, OR
Do contact the club. Odds are that there is at least one club member near by, and if you mention that you have 7 acres of wood and don't know what to cut, you will have lots of help, and advice... I do have a bunch of bowl turning videos up on You Tube, under my alias...

robo hippy
 
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