Log To Bowl

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Project by DaveDelo posted 05-29-2014 01:44 AM 2243 views 2 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’ve done larger glue-up pieces before but this is the largest “wet” piece of wood I’ve done so far, primarily because I haven’t had any stock this size before. Log is maple. Boy, is this a lot of work!!!

Learned quite a bit off this first piece about using a chainsaw and bandsaw to create a balanced blank. Thinking I might get around 15 or so bowls out of this log. First one is 10.5”D x 5.5”H x 5” deep. Used a bowl gouge without getting any catches so I’m pretty pumped about that.

7 comments so far

View Xyloid_Curt's profile


131 posts in 3251 days

#1 posted 05-29-2014 02:04 AM

Very nice! My experience has been that even though you turned it with relatively thin uniform walls it will warp in the drying process. I have even had some thin walled bowls crack while drying. I now always seal a wet turned bowl with something to slow the drying process. I also generally rough turn first, leaving thick walls until the wood stabilizes.

And yes, turning logs into bowl blanks is a lot of work.
Keep up the great work!

-- Xyloid Curt "Exposing the hidden beauty in wood"

View bushmaster's profile


4130 posts in 3447 days

#2 posted 05-29-2014 04:07 AM

Nice maple log and heavy duty lathe. Turned a number large bowls out this winter on my home made lathe for the fun of it. It is great fun to take a full width of the 1/2 bowl gouge at a time in the green wood. I also left them heavy and will finish them this winter. Happy turning.

-- Brian - Hazelton, British Columbia

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4498 days

#3 posted 05-29-2014 09:16 AM

Well done Dave. I have done quite a bit of bowls from logs, mostly Birch and Sycamore. I chainsawed them to about 5 ft. lengths and then split them in half lengthwise with wedges. It was surprisingly easy to do and eliminated having to rip saw against the grain. I got really addicted to turning wet wood. It’s a lot of fun to see those long shavings streaming off the workpiece. Like Exloid said, you will probably have to rough turn them with thick walls and let them dry a few months to prevent cracking and then finish turn them when dry. I did learn than you can finish turn wet wood when you are turning end grain pieces as long as you keep the walls and bottoms to an even thickness. That might not work for every species, but you can learn that by trial and error.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View ken_c's profile


338 posts in 4326 days

#4 posted 05-29-2014 03:57 PM

yup – no catches is an awesome day at the lathe – made my first catch-less bowl last weekend. nice work too…

View DaveDelo's profile


86 posts in 4058 days

#5 posted 05-29-2014 09:48 PM

Thanks to all you guys for the pointers. This piece is pretty consistent 5/8” thick. I wanted to leave it at 1” since it’s 10.5”D but when I was at 1” thickness, I had some type of defect/bark inclusion dead center at the bottom of the bowl and you could see a tiny hairline crack growing from it. Was worried that a lot of work was going down the drain quickly so it took another heavy quarter inch to get rid of it. We’ll see what happens.

View LesB's profile


3031 posts in 4607 days

#6 posted 05-30-2014 04:25 PM

It is always a bit of a gamble turning wet wood.
In lieu of leaving the overly thick rough turning to dry for several weeks or months you should look up the various methods of microwave oven drying on the internet. I have had great success with it and it seldom takes more than a day or two complete the process. There are lots of videos and right ups for this process on the internet.
The method I prefer is to rough turn the piece, put it in a brown paper shopping bag, and microwave it until it is almost to hot to hold in your hands. Then Open the bag just a little to release the water vapor and let the wood cool. Repeat this process until the wood is dry. The use of the bag creates a condition similar to a steam kiln and the microwave process drives the moisture out from the interior of the wood to the surface. It is a good idea so inspect the piece after each cooling process and should you see small cracks developing fill them with medium thickness super glue. That usually stops further cracking and the glue and crack can be removed in the final turning process.
I also like to cover wet maple with several inches of damp wood shavings and let it set outside in a shady place for several months to allow some spaulting to develop. Check it regularly so you don’t over do the process and the wood becomes to soft from the rot.

-- Les B, Oregon

View DaveDelo's profile


86 posts in 4058 days

#7 posted 05-30-2014 08:13 PM


I’m aware of the various methods that people use but I’ve only used the brown bag method without any wet chips and left them in a corner of the basement floor. Granted they have been smaller bowl shapes usually in the 5 to 8 inch range, I usually get them dry in about 2 months or so. I’ve had some crack but mostly because I didn’t have uniform thickness throughout.

This log has been laying for about 2 months so I was eager to see just how wet it was. It was wet and easy to machine but it wasn’t sopping wet like were you can see the water running down the tool. Felt a little mist in a couple areas but that was it. Since I’m going to get a slew of blanks out of this log, I think I’ll let a few go the old fashioned way, microwave a few and try my hand with DNA. Got a couple gallons of that stuff that I bought awhile back but never used.

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