ambrosia maple turnings #2: finishing the bowl

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Blog entry by jeffthewoodwacker posted 12-31-2008 02:58 AM 3123 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: spalted ambrosia maple bowl Part 2 of ambrosia maple turnings series no next part

I have finished sanded the spalted ambrosia bowl up to 600 grit and am ready to start putting finish on it.

I start the finish process by using an air compressor to blow all the dust from the bowl, then I wipe both the outside and inside down with BLO. The next step is to wipe on a good coat of Mylands high speed friction polish. I like to do the first coat with the lathe turned off and turn the bowl by hand. This allows me to get a good uniform coat on the entire surface. Once the Mylands is applied I turn the lathe on and buff with a paper towel. This is the outside after one coat.

The inside gets the same treatment as the outside. If you look closely in the bottom right corner of the bowl you will see two lighter spots – this is part of the spalting and will require several coats.

I apply 4 coats of Mylands, buffing between each coat then I wipe on a coat of Triple EEE. The Triple E is buffed in and then followed with another coat of Mylands. The final coat is Renaissance Wax, wiped on and then buffed with the lathe running. Once I am satisfied with the finish job I remove the bowl from the Nova chuck and reverse mount it on my Cole jaws. I always bring the tail stock up to the bottom of the piece to start working on the bottom of the bowl. Very light cuts with a bowl gouge towards the tail stock are used to clean up the bottom of the bowl. I remove the tail stock to take the final cuts on the bowl. For this bowl I decided to use my skew and make a series of grooves on the bottom of the bowl. My goal is to make the bottom of the bowl decorative and to completely eliminate how the bowl was held to be turned.

Once I am satisfied with the bottom of the bowl it gets sanded through 600 grit sandpaper and finished with the same process used on the rest of the bowl.

While the bowl is still on the Cole jaws I buff the entire outside of the bowl one more time to remove any dust. When using Cole jaws never exceed 600 rpm and make sure you know where your hands are in relation to the jaws. I only had to hit my knuckles once to learn this lesson. I painted the outside rim of these jaws a bright red to make them more visible.

The final step for the bowl is a trip to the Beall wheel and hit all three bonnets. Here is what the finished bowl looks like. I will post this as a project as well.

This bowl is 6 inches high, 11 inches across and a little less than 3/8 inch thick

-- Those that say it can't be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.

5 comments so far

View DocK16's profile


1200 posts in 5543 days

#1 posted 12-31-2008 04:21 AM

Nice bowl, appreciate you sharing your finishing technique. I have an affinity for spalted maple for turning and have several pieces “brewing” and should be ready to turn in another month or two. I would appreciated it if you could share any tips on your technique using the Beall polishing system I alway seem to get white tripoli marks on the wood. Am I using too much on the wheel?

View trifern's profile


8134 posts in 5223 days

#2 posted 12-31-2008 05:53 AM

Nice blog, Jeff. I look forward to seeing your hollow form vase. Thanks for sharing.

-- My favorite piece is my last one, my best piece is my next one.

View Karson's profile


35300 posts in 5856 days

#3 posted 12-31-2008 07:58 PM

Nice Jeff.

I might suggest that on the project you post the link to the blogs and on the blogs post a link to the project.

It allows everyone to go between them seamlessly.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View LesB's profile


3466 posts in 4899 days

#4 posted 01-10-2009 09:09 PM

You took on an interesting challenge. Turning a bowl into spalted end grain. I looked at some of you
other pieces and you have some nice work.

You may already be aware of some methods I have found helpful when I turn pieces like this but I will pass them on in case someone else is interested.

First I have found it easier to create the recess for the chuck by using a circular template cut in a piece of 1/2” plywood that I center and clamp over the turning blank. Obviously the template needs to be long enough to clamp on each end with room for the next step. Then with a template guide installed on my router and a 8 degree dove tail bit I cut the recess in what will be the top of the piece. Then mounting the blank on the lathe I do as much as I can to finish the bottom of the bowl including another recess for the chuck mounting when I turn the bowl to do the top/inside. Then I turn the inside. I often prepare several blanks at one time while I have the template and router set up and obviously the size of the circle varies with the size of the blank.

Next, I noticed this blank had some cracks before you started. I usually fill these cracks with THICK super glue
before I start the turning. It often takes several applications to fill deeper cracks so they need time to cure between applications in that case. It is amazing how much glue can sink into a crack. This stabilizes the blank and prevents centrifugal force and cutting pressures from making the crack worse or transmitting further into the wood. I often find by doing this I can cut past the crack and eliminate it entirely. Next I stop frequently during the turning to look for new cracks that may also need stabilizing.
On this bowl it appears you ended up with at least one crack on the rim which could have been filled with super glue to smooth it out. I have also used super glue to fill larger voids and by mixing fine shavings with it you can make the patch blend in. Also super glue can be used to stabilize soft spots in spalted wood so it does not tear out as easily.

I started to use the words “centrifical force”. Spell check highlighted it and I found that it does not scientifically exist; the correct term is “centrifugal force” so I learned something by writing this response. Doubters can google it and see.

Sorry I got carried away in my comment (-;

-- Les B, Oregon

View jeffthewoodwacker's profile


603 posts in 5260 days

#5 posted 01-12-2009 05:16 PM

Les, thanks for the comments. I do use several of the methods you discuss.

-- Those that say it can't be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.

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