Desert Southwest Bowl without a lathe, some instructions

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Project by grace123 posted 02-03-2017 09:12 PM 3013 views 5 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Today is my mother’s 86th birthday. I made this bowl for her. I call this a desert southwest bowl because the colors suggest the reds, sage greens and browns of the landscape where I live. Several summers ago we had an exceptional burst of wildflowers in a place some people call Twin Hills that is just about a mile from my front door that really shows the desert colors.

I put the pictures in reverse order of construction. The first picture shows the finished bowl. The next picture shows the bowl as it was between coats of finish. The next picture shows the bowl after sanding. The next picture shows the bowl after glue up. The final picture shows the bowl in the stages of glue up.

I made the bowl from layers of boards cut with a band saw or a scroll saw. The wood used starting from the top layer going down is: Poplar, smoked eucalyptus, aspen, red oak, aspen, poplar. I chose the greenest poplar board I could find deliberately for the color. I had the red oak and aspen in my scraps.

I don’t have a lathe, and I think it came out pretty well by cutting angled circles and sanding…and sanding…and sanding….

I have a scroll saw and a band saw and I used both during construction of this bowl. This bowl is made of four rings.

I began with the middle ring of red oak. I had pieces of 1/8 inch aspen. I put a piece of the aspen on each side of the red oak making a “sandwich” of a thin white layer on the top of the red oak and another thin white layer on the bottom. I clamped them and let the glue dry.

The top ring was made of layers as well. The top layer was a 1/2 inch piece of poplar, two veneer layers of smoked eucalyptus, and one 3/4 inch layer of poplar. I spread glue between each layer of wood and clamped them and let the glue dry.

The last two layers are made from 3/4 inch poplar.

I found a very nice YouTube video that shows how to make the cuts to produce a bowl.

To cut the boards for this particular bowl, I used a compass to draw a 7-inch circle, and then a concentric circle 6/12 inches in diameter in the aspen-oak-aspen layer. This was a very easy cut at straight 90 degrees. I used the bandsaw to cut the outside and then I used the scroll saw to cut out the inner circle. I sanded the inside smooth.

For the top layer, I again used the compass to draw a 7-inch-diameter circle and a concentric circle 61/2 inches in diameter on the wood. For this cut, be sure the thin layer for the lip of the bowl in on the bottom. I angled the table of my band saw to 28 degrees and cut out the larger circle. Then I moved to the scroll saw and set the table of the scroll saw to the same 28 degree angle. I drilled a starter hold at 28 degrees for the scroll saw blade. Then I cut out the inner circle. I sanded the inside smooth and glued the two rings together.

In this picture the set of rings on the right shows the top two layers glued together.

Referring to the picture again, the ring on the far left shows the result after cutting the ring entirely on the band saw. For the third ring, I used a compass to draw a ring 7 inches in diameter and then I drew another concentric circle 6 1/2 inches in diameter. I set the table of my band saw to 35 degrees and cut the the outer circle. Then I cut the inner circle by cutting through to the line of the inner circle (in the way you make a band saw box) and cutting on the line. I glued the circle together and let the glue dry. You can see I held the ring together with masking tape. After the glue dried I sanded the inside smooth.

For the base of the bowl, I set the third ring on a 3/4 inch poplar board. I traced the around the base of the third ring with a pencil. I set my table on my scroll saw to 45 degrees and cut out a disc. Then I glued the base and third ring together and clamped them for a few minutes. Then I put everything together and clamped it and left it for the glue to dry.

After that, take off the clamps and sand until everything suits you, apply finish and enjoy your masterpiece.

13 comments so far

View tyvekboy's profile


2138 posts in 4296 days

#1 posted 02-03-2017 09:19 PM

That’s a beautiful bowl.

-- Tyvekboy -- Marietta, GA ………….. one can never be too organized

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

12436 posts in 4712 days

#2 posted 02-03-2017 09:37 PM

Gorgeous piece of work.
Could you give more details of the construction? No lathe here, either.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View Ivan's profile


17049 posts in 4151 days

#3 posted 02-04-2017 08:39 AM

Beautifull pallet of colours (woods). I would never gues it was without lathe. I ncredible, I should try it definately.

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View EngineerChic's profile


34 posts in 1788 days

#4 posted 02-04-2017 02:39 PM

Wow, I’ve seen scrollsaw bowls before and thought the different layers detracted from the beauty of the bowl. It was the way I convinced myself that I don’t want/need a scrollsaw. But this … This makes the layers ADD to the beauty of the bowl.

I really like the way you varied the thickness of the layers so that the softer colors are wide while the darker, more high contrast layers are thinner. It is a great balance of high contrast and easier-on-the-eyes shading. I’m going to store this in my brain as reason to maybe get a scrollsaw if I see one super cheap on CList.

View leafherder's profile


1986 posts in 3236 days

#5 posted 02-04-2017 04:21 PM

Cool and great instructions! On behalf of all us “turnless” woodworkers, Thank you!

-- Leafherder

View RichCMD's profile


430 posts in 3224 days

#6 posted 02-04-2017 04:27 PM

What a great looking piece of work. I am especially impressed with how you achieved the colors without having to use dyes or stains. Well done!

-- Ride the bevel!

View bushmaster's profile


4148 posts in 3566 days

#7 posted 02-04-2017 09:19 PM

That is totally amazing, determination and work results in perfect project. One proud mother of her son.

-- Brian - Hazelton, British Columbia

View jeff's profile


1403 posts in 4748 days

#8 posted 02-05-2017 07:55 AM

I really like the colors.

-- Jeff,Tucson,Az.

View sgmdwk's profile


308 posts in 3156 days

#9 posted 02-06-2017 04:03 AM

That’s just incredible. Well done.

-- Dave K.

View papadan's profile


3584 posts in 4652 days

#10 posted 02-06-2017 06:18 AM

Gorgeous bowl you have created, and I have a lathe.

View UncleStumpy's profile


745 posts in 3596 days

#11 posted 02-07-2017 12:07 PM

Spectacular use of the colors. Really well visualized.

-- "They don't want it perfect - they want it SPECIAL"

View Coble's profile


76 posts in 4370 days

#12 posted 02-08-2017 05:31 PM

Looks greats the colors are perfect

View Roger's profile


21055 posts in 4087 days

#13 posted 02-18-2017 08:34 PM

That is absolutely beautiful! WowZa!

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

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