Segmented Bowl

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Blog entry by dhg posted 03-29-2008 03:21 AM 5762 reads 7 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch

There were a couple of requests for a blog on the making of the routed segmented bowl. If I had known there would be interest in that I would have taken more photos of the process. Well here goes.

The original idea for a routed bowl came from “Woodsmith Magazine Vol. 29/No.170”. You can go to “ online extra video workshop” for more information on there bowls. In the article they had 4 different bowl designs. My wife liked the round one but wanted it deeper so I did a little calculating and came up with a bowl that measures 10 1/2” in dia. and 3 1/2” tall with a routed depth of about 3”. The base is 3/4” thick cherry then 1/4” walnut and then 1/2” cherry until it reached 3”. The variations are up to your imagination. The one thing that I didn’t like about their plan was they used solid stock to make the thickness of the bowls. To me it seem like a lot of wasted material being routed out of the middle and I didn’t want all the end grain so I decided on the segmented idea.

After I laid out the diameter and figured out the sizes of the sections I cut enough for 6 bowls.

Then started glueing up one layer at a time. Be sure to rotate the next layer 1/2 of a segment so as not to have the glue joints of 2 layers on top of each other. I did use my micro pinner on the outside waste area to hold the pieces in place while aligning and clamping. The outside of the bowl is bandsawed not routed. I did hit a couple of missplaced pins with the bandsaw. It wasn’t pretty.

Before I got too far I decided to add the walnut splines in the 1/2” cherry for some added detail. Not to mention extra work. I used a 1/4” tongue and groove router bit for that. I also sub assembled 2 of the cherry pieces and a spline ahead of time. I figured it would make assembly faster. I would do that while waiting for the glue to dry.

Lots of clamps!

After glueing up 6 or 7 layers (I made a couple of different styles as I went along) this is what I would end up with.

Also, during the glue drying times I made a 10” dia template to be able to route the inside of the bowl. Notice in the above pic that there is a column in the middle of the bowl. That served 2 purposes, 1: so I could find the center of the piece and use a compass to draw the I.D. and O.D. on the layers so I new where everything was. 2: it was used as a support for the router base while routing the I.D. Woodsmiths plan had the router template in a half moon shape for support and then would have to relocate the template 180 deg to finish the other half. I didn’t like that idea. I thought trying to clean up the inside with that method would be to hard. Probably safer. For the record, I DIDN’T have any mishaps while using the column. I just went slow!

Once the glueing up was done, I again drew the I.D. and O.D. on the last layer so I could position the template and screw it down on the waste side. I also left the base larger than the rest of bowl so there was something to hold the bowl in place while it was being routed. I screwed it to my workbench.

Oh yea, also while another layer was drying, I had time to make an oversized baseplate for the router which you need for extra support.

To route the bowls, the plans recommended the CMT 1 1/4” dia bowl and tray bit with top bearing and CMT collet extension. You need the collet extension to go deep enough. I made the mistake of ordering a slightly smaller bit because it was a few bucks cheeper only to find out after I had started routing the first bowl that the collect extension was 1/16” larger that the bit dia which would have crashed into to bowl if I had continued. So now I have 2 different sizes of bowl and tray bits with top bearings! Oh well you can’t have too many router bits can you?

I found that I had to start routing the I.D. without the collect extension as it would have taken to much material to start with. Taking about 3/16” of material at a time it took about an hour to route out one bowl. I went about 1/4” deep into the base material so the first walnut strip would show good in the bottom.

Now the tricky part, I knocked off the little column that was in the middle and slowly cleaned out the center of the bowl.

You end up with a lot of shavings by the time your done not to mention that you have to clean out the bowl everytime you change cutting depths.

After all the inside routing was done it’s bandsaw time. I bandsawed just outside my pencil line for the O.D. then went to the belt sander to get the outside down to the pencil line. I have one of the Ridgid oscillating belt sanders which was quick and squared up the sides nicely. Using a oscillating pad sander on the bottom cleaned up the router marks and sides.

The bottom was routed with a 1/2” r roundover bit and went deep enough to leave about a 1/8” shoulder on the bottom.

Then it was a lot of hand sanding and finally used food safe butcher block oil for the finish. I call it a popcorn bowl, but my wife calls it a fruit bowl.

Anyhow class, thats pretty much how I did it. Any questions?

-- Talent on Loan from God - Rush Limbaugh

6 comments so far

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4787 days

#1 posted 03-29-2008 03:31 AM

Great concept and blog!


-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View Betsy's profile


3394 posts in 4695 days

#2 posted 03-29-2008 04:03 AM

That’s a great way to do bowls. I saw the article and thought doing it their way was a waste of a lot of good wood. this is a good way to get around that.

Thanks for the post.

-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 4621 days

#3 posted 03-29-2008 06:20 AM

Thanks for the blog. I have always wondered how these were done. You have taken a lot of the mystery out of the process.

Thanks for the post.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View woodup's profile


145 posts in 4742 days

#4 posted 03-29-2008 06:52 AM

Very interesting idea. I’m putting that on my wish list.

-- Michael, Fort Worth, TX. "I wood if I could!"

View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 4673 days

#5 posted 03-29-2008 11:16 AM

Great description of the process. I agree the segmentation wastes considerably less wood. Thanks.

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 5098 days

#6 posted 03-29-2008 05:03 PM

Thanks for the tutorial.

I’ve noticed that a lot of magazines seem to use too much wood on some of there projects.

I guess someone else is paying for their lumber.;o)

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

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