Third turned bowl

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Project by Dave Polaschek posted 12-06-2020 10:29 PM 941 views 0 times favorited 26 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is the third bowl I turned, and the second made of birch. I managed to get the sides a little thinner, and the bottom thinner as well. I almost avoided tear-out on the end-grain sides of the bowl, only using the bowl gouge, but there was a little, so I sanded to clean things up.

Turned this one in a single session in the shop. Maybe three hours total, including cutting it octagonal on the bandsaw, mounting it on the plate, cutting it free, and using the belt-sander to take off the last nubbin on the bottom.

It’s a little over 5 inches in diameter, and about 1-¼ inches tall.

Six coats of shellac, with some light sanding with 400 grit between the fourth and fifth coats. I’m trying to decide if I should pull out my French polishing kit and try to really put a nice finish on it, or whether this is good enough.

Thanks for looking!

Note: gifted to Jon & Marie

-- Dave - Santa Fe

26 comments so far

View hairy's profile


3343 posts in 4813 days

#1 posted 12-06-2020 11:03 PM

That’s a nice bowl! Don’t be ashamed of sanding. I’ve watched turners make beautiful clean cuts, and start sanding.

I don’t do many bowls, but I don’t worry too much about how thick they are, if it looks right . I’ve made things thin, and they crack when they get dropped. I turn to please me, not the experts.

-- there's someone in my head but it's not me...

View WhattheChuck's profile


467 posts in 4842 days

#2 posted 12-06-2020 11:09 PM

That sure doesn’t look like a bookcase! ;-)

-- Chuck, Pullman, WA

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

8788 posts in 1863 days

#3 posted 12-06-2020 11:21 PM

Thanks, Hairy! I try to get the sides thinner just because they feel more “right” to me that way. My first couple feel pretty chunky.

Chuck, I also got two bookcases done. They’ll come in tomorrow and I’ll be replacing the Target pressboard bookcase that’s threatening to collapse.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View WhattheChuck's profile


467 posts in 4842 days

#4 posted 12-06-2020 11:40 PM

You are a rockstar! Or something!

-- Chuck, Pullman, WA

View oldrivers's profile


2784 posts in 2848 days

#5 posted 12-07-2020 12:01 AM

Moving on up, and looking good Dave.

-- Soli Deo gloria!

View LesB's profile (online now)


3134 posts in 4724 days

#6 posted 12-07-2020 01:46 AM

Your making progress and it looks better…still some tear out visible on the inside.

A lot about the thickness and finish depends on the intended end use. Thin looks pretty and delicate but is not always practical….plus as you start to get really thin the bowl sides can start to flex without some extra support; you might notice some “chatter” as you are working on it which can produce an irregular finish or thickness.

Finish can go from just a processed oil (I like processed or heat treated walnut oil) to a hard durable finish like salad bowl finish from Behlens or General. They wipe easily wipe on. Behlens tends to go on a little thicker and needs fewer coats then General. I tend to use these on most of my bowls because I expect them to be used/abused and usually for food items that might be wet, or oily, etc.

Rather than shellac I would suggest using one of the commercial “friction” polishes, but they work best with the item still on the lathe.

-- Les B, Oregon

View Oldtool's profile


3351 posts in 3472 days

#7 posted 12-07-2020 02:05 AM

Nice bowl, came out great. Do you think the French polish will differ much from the shellac already on there?, wouldn’t hurt to try.

-- "I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The point is to bring them the real facts." - Abraham Lincoln

View Andre's profile


4824 posts in 3087 days

#8 posted 12-07-2020 02:42 AM

Getting better all the time! Ya about the thin part, got a cute little bowl in the shop, nice walnut, tapered real thin to the top with a chip! Stays in the shop:( On some of my smaller bowls I have used a hard wax stick (hoyt I think?) which I buff on, gives a nice glossy tough finish.

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

View pottz's profile


21266 posts in 2265 days

#9 posted 12-07-2020 02:54 AM

stop pushin me dave ill get their…...oh sorry i was having a bad dream-lol.looking damn good bud,your gettin me excited to get on it.

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

View Lazyman's profile


8193 posts in 2668 days

#10 posted 12-07-2020 03:30 AM

Looking great Dave. I can definitely see you getting better fast.

Instead of the French polish or even just shellac for that matter, I recommend a friction finish. Super easy and it almost looks like a French polish when you are done, though you do have to spend a little more time sanding to higher grits up front. Mylands High Build Friction Polish is my current favorite but Hut Friction Finish is good too. If you would rather mix your own, here is a good article on the topic.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

8788 posts in 1863 days

#11 posted 12-07-2020 03:32 AM

Thanks, Chuck & Oldrivers.

Les, yeah, there’s a little tear-out. The thickness is still thick enough that it will work for just about anything. I’m comfortable with shellac, and it’s food-safe, so I’ll stick with that for now. I also use linseed oil with no heavy metal driers for some things. Takes a while to cure, but I’ve got time. Since I’m allergic to tree nuts, walnut oil seems like it might not be the best idea for me.

Thanks, Tom. French polish is still just shellac, but rubbed in with a pad, and maybe using pumice as an ultra-fine abrasive. Mostly it’ll give a smoother finish now that I’ve got a nice base coat of shellac on. I also have some amber-based varnish that gives a pretty good finish, but my shop is way too dusty to get good results with that now. I might try fiddling with that later.

Thanks, Andre. I haven’t had a failure from getting too thin yet, but I expect I’ll get there before too much longer. I’ve pondered a hard wax, but we’ll see how the shellac finish goes.

Not pushing, Pottz, but seriously man, what’s holding you up? ;-) Glad I’m getting you worked up!

-- Dave - Santa Fe

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Dave Polaschek

8788 posts in 1863 days

#12 posted 12-07-2020 03:42 AM

Thanks, Nathan.

Reading the article, friction polish is basically just French polish, using the lathe to spin the work under the pad. Since I’ve already got pounds of shellac on hand, and my own metal-free linseed oil, that’s about where I’m headed, I figure. But I’m leery of a lot of the commercial mixes without having a chance to read the MSDS first.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View Lazyman's profile


8193 posts in 2668 days

#13 posted 12-07-2020 04:57 AM

Yeah, I think that the Mylands does have some naptha in it that probably isn’t needed which is why I included the DIY version. I get a shine similar to a french polish but without using any pumice—you basically burnish with ultrafine sandpaper prior to application. If you get it well sanded, it literally takes just a couple of minutes to get a very high polish. I do like having the wax in it but as the article says, you can always apply a wax coat later. Shellac finishes don’t hold very long when they have to be wash after usage in food so I do not use a friction finish on my food items. I usually use a walnut oil or linseed oil finish on those.

I really like the Tried and True linseed oil products since they are heat polymerized rather than with metal additives. I’ve actually used the T&T varnish oil like a friction finish when I don’t want a shiny finish. Applying their linseed oil with some heat from friction seems to speed up the curing process and it super easy to add a new coat if you need one later.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View sansoo22's profile (online now)


1870 posts in 936 days

#14 posted 12-07-2020 05:06 AM

It’s awesome watching your progress from the first bowl to this one. You’re doing fine work and giving me more confidence to give this a go when my lathe is all put back together.

View doubleDD's profile


10795 posts in 3324 days

#15 posted 12-07-2020 05:31 AM

That bowl has some nice grain. Your progress is moving along nicely Dave. Thinner, smoother, shinier. With the right finish you will be able to make it look like glass from friction on the lathe. 3 stage buffing will get you there too. It’s all about the finish you think looks best. I use to make my bowls rather thin. OK if they are for show but when I know it’s going to be a user I keep at a 1/4’’ min.

-- Dave, Downers Grove, Il. -------- When you run out of ideas, start building your dreams.

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