Starting My Business #7: How I Finish Bowls

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Blog entry by ChrisCrafts posted 04-17-2012 09:23 PM 8532 reads 1 time favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 6: Sappy MOLDY Cherry Part 7 of Starting My Business series Part 8: Well, I have done it Now! »

I have had several requests from LJ’s to know how I finish my Bowls. The walnut Bowl at the bottom is proof that what I do works.

It has taken a great amount of experimenting to get to this pint, but I finally have a complete finishing process! I have researched this topic endlessly and it seems that no one wants to part with the secret. So here is what I have come up with. It is bits & pieces taken from blogs, videos, magazines, & books all authored by some of the most famous turners out there.

I will readily admit that the process is over the top & there are redundant steps. Feel free to take what you like from the process and create a process that works for you.


I don’t want this to turn into a discussion on the food safeness of finishes. I feel confident in what I use & have spent enough time & effort to have made a very well educated decision on this. If you only want to use mineral oil, that is completely your prerogative. I really really really don’t care what you choose to use. I am serious I can’t emphasize how very little I care about your opinion on what is food safe. Feel free to Write you own blog on the subject! Some moron will still post a reply about how he has used mineral oil for 157 years without issue. But mineral oil is NOT a finish, it does not dry or harden.

The Process

Power Sand using wave gold paper from Performance Abrasives 80,100,120,150,180,220,320,400,600,800

I then power buff with Abrolon Discs 2,000 & 4,000

For the finish I use 1 of several finishes depending on the wood & the potential use.

BLO for figured maple as it helps the grain pop

Danish Oil for Walnut & cherry that is likely to only hold dry goods like nuts or fruit

Walnut Oil or Salad Bowl Finish for Salad Bowls or serving platters

I apply 4-5 coats of finish with the piece still on the lathe. Burnishing with a paper towel in between each coat. Except when using Salad Bowl finish, it dries to quickly to burnish.

I picked up the Beall System from Wood Tuner’s Catalog, I got the 3” Buffs & the Long Buffing Adapter . I have used the system on 7 bowls so far and really like the outcome. I use all 3 buffs, 1 Red Rouge, 1 white Diamond, & the last coat is Carnuba Wax.

Getting the Carnuba Wax on evenly has been difficult so far. It also really highlights even the smallest amount of tear out left on the bowl. But then again, I am the harshest critic of my work. Even the smallest imperfection drives me nuts. I have made funnels out of more bowls by repeatedly taking 1 Last light cut, or re-sanding to remove that 1 little spot of tear out, all just to get it perfect.

-- Chris, Washington The State!

4 comments so far

View lew's profile


12810 posts in 4177 days

#1 posted 04-17-2012 09:36 PM

Thanks for this information. I hope I can do half as nice as you have , on my next bowl. I can never get all of the tear out completely sanded out.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View woodcrafter47's profile


352 posts in 3527 days

#2 posted 04-17-2012 09:51 PM

Walnut oil and bees wax on the lathe is what I use. Very nice bowl and it finish. thanks for this post

-- In His service ,Richard

View Kevin's profile


562 posts in 2721 days

#3 posted 04-17-2012 10:31 PM

Thanks for the post I like seeing how other people like to finish their projects. The walnut bowl is beautiful.

-- Measure twice, cut once, then sand a whole bunch

View SASmith               's profile


1850 posts in 3409 days

#4 posted 04-17-2012 11:03 PM

Thanks for the info. What brand of salad bowl finish are you using?
I used general’s SBF for the first time on these bowls.
It is almost too shiny for my taste.

Great work on that bowl.

-- Scott Smith, Southern Illinois

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