Small turned birch bowl (#4)

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Project by Dave Polaschek posted 12-09-2020 07:09 PM 948 views 0 times favorited 24 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This bowl is about 3 inches in diameter, and about 2 high. It was a small piece of birch I cut off the end of the bigger board I’ve been making bowls from, so the next bowls will probably be from some other wood scraps from the shop.

This went pretty smoothly, with only a little tear-out. I got rid of all but one spot using my new scraper which arrived in yesterday’s mail, but then one spot that remains is a soft spot in the wood, and I worried about putting a hole in the side of the bowl trying to clean it up.

I’ll probably hand-sand the inside of the bowl a bit more, but this one might end up holding the brass screws that also arrived in yesterday’s mail, so if I do get a nice finish on the inside of the bowl, I’ll probably just booger it up right away anyhow.

A little over 2 hours from start to finish. I’m getting better at taking aggressive cuts early to waste away the bulk of the material, and then going slower as I get closer to done. Still need to improve my shear-scraping with the bowl gouge though. I’d prefer not to have to use the scraper at all if possible.

Sanded up to 800 grit on the exterior, then finished with a home-brewed friction finish made from a 1.5# cut of blonde shellac and linseed oil. More shellac than oil.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

24 comments so far

View hairy's profile


3345 posts in 4817 days

#1 posted 12-09-2020 08:06 PM

Nice bowl!

Nothing wrong with using a scraper. It’s a finishing tool.

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

View jeffswildwood's profile


4952 posts in 3262 days

#2 posted 12-09-2020 08:13 PM

Nice little bowl Dave. Looks good. It’s going to hold brass screws? Nice use but a little too pretty for that job. Most of my little bowls become gone when someone says, “hey,I like that”, and I say “here”.

-- We all make mistakes, the trick is to fix it in a way that says "I meant to do that".

View robscastle's profile


8295 posts in 3489 days

#3 posted 12-09-2020 08:19 PM

Hi Dave,

Looks great from my perspective, I have no experience in turning but would offer the following advice regarding shear scraping
1. Use tungsten inserts (although HSS may be able to be sharpened finer)
2. Replace or re sharpen often.
3. Be prepared to fill the rubbish in a few times!

I have seen youube videos of projects that the material allows light to shine through because its almost that thin its translucent, as to any practical use this process is I am not sure, a bit like planing the thinnest and continuous strip of shavings, its the skill and ability to do it I think is the main purpose and of course having the right material in the first place.

some historical names of products bear the reflection of how may attempts were made to perfect a process

Bonnie Bell 10-06 for one WD 40 for another. no doubt there rare many more

-- Regards Rob

View pottz's profile


21313 posts in 2269 days

#4 posted 12-09-2020 08:33 PM

lookin good dave your on a my bowl gouges waiting for some scrapers too,hope to make some shavings after christmas when i get everything caught up.nice work.

-- 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 crowie's profile


5111 posts in 3235 days

#5 posted 12-09-2020 08:42 PM

Dave, you’re really getting into the turning. The timber in this one has some noticeable grain, you’ve done well sir.

-- Lifes good, Enjoy each new day...... Cheers from "On Top DownUnder" Crowie

View LesB's profile


3138 posts in 4728 days

#6 posted 12-09-2020 08:49 PM

More progress.

Tip: Some times I treat “soft” spots with CA glue which firms them up. I will apply the thin version of CA glue then immediately apply the medium version. The thin glue acts as a wicking agent for the thicker blue. What happens if that is not done is when start sanding the soft wood gets cut faster and deeper than the firm wood cutting the spot deeper. If you are using a shellac finish you could firm up the spot with shellac….apply until it no longer soaks in.

The glue will usually darken the wood where it soaks in but most clear finishes or oils will create the same darkened color so it won’t show.

-- Les B, Oregon

View Dave Polaschek's profile (online now)

Dave Polaschek

8802 posts in 1867 days

#7 posted 12-09-2020 08:58 PM

Thanks, Hairy. Nothing wrong with it, but the more I can do with the bowl gouge, the quicker things will go, I think.

Thanks, Jeff. It might not, but I need something to hold them near the lathe. They showed up in a plastic bag, which is about the cheapest container I’ve ever gotten hardware in.

Rob, HSS can be sharpened finer. And yeah, I need to do a bunch of sharpening soon. Half a garbage can of stuff swept up from the floor just now. Or a 5-gallon bucket full. No point in going too thin, I think, but I may try something crazy thin one of these days. We’ll see.

Thanks, pottz. I’d say just get to it, but I’m running behind on getting bookcases done again, so I may not be the best person to listen to.

Thanks, Peter. It was a bargain board from the shorts bin at my lumber yard in Minnesota. 9/4×5.5×4 feet for $13.50 according to the sharpie marks on the end of it. The interesting grain is probably why it got cut off a board they were selling. I definitely feel like I got my money’s worth on that one.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View Dave Polaschek's profile (online now)

Dave Polaschek

8802 posts in 1867 days

#8 posted 12-09-2020 09:02 PM

Thanks, Les. Now that I’ve got shellac on it, I might hand-sand the little torn-out spot. And yeah, I’ve been firming up punky wood with CA or shellac almost as long as I’ve been working wood. Linseed or tung oil will also help, but require a lot more patience waiting for them to cure.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View Oldtool's profile


3354 posts in 3475 days

#9 posted 12-09-2020 10:01 PM

Nifty bowl, nice work. Sounds like it’s becoming more fun with each bowl.

-- "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 Dave Polaschek's profile (online now)

Dave Polaschek

8802 posts in 1867 days

#10 posted 12-09-2020 10:56 PM

Less frustration at doing things wrong, if nothing else, Tom. On this one, I didn’t quite get a vertical wall, but it was vertical for the top half, and I didn’t blow anything up with a bad catch, so I think it went pretty well.

The previous attempt… not quite so smooth.

But that’ll be saucer #1 and get posted tomorrow after I finish rescuing it.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View wildwoodbybrianjohns's profile


2848 posts in 832 days

#11 posted 12-10-2020 04:49 AM

Looks as though your on your mostly merry way tg being `dicted to turning. There are worse things one might do. Good luck.

-- WWBBJ: It is better to be interesting and wrong, than boring and right.

View doubleDD's profile


10799 posts in 3328 days

#12 posted 12-10-2020 05:36 AM

Nice bowl Dave. Some cool grain for a piece of birch. I can see confidence rising quickly. Keep doing what you’re doing.

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

View Dave Polaschek's profile (online now)

Dave Polaschek

8802 posts in 1867 days

#13 posted 12-10-2020 12:48 PM

Thanks, Brian! It’s fun, and a lot of my shorts bin purchases have interesting grain (why other people rejected them) which is fun to turn.

Dave, as I said, the bargain bin was full of interesting grain, even in birch and oak. I really miss that here in NM, and I may have to grab a truckload of shorts next time we’re back in MN. For casework, the knots and whorls in the grain can be frustrating to try and work around (though I can usually manage). For turning, they just end up being dang pretty.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View Steve's profile


2647 posts in 1867 days

#14 posted 12-10-2020 05:20 PM

Nice job Dave.

How are you holding your workpieces on the lathe?

View Dave Polaschek's profile (online now)

Dave Polaschek

8802 posts in 1867 days

#15 posted 12-10-2020 05:25 PM

Steve, this one started screwed to a base-plate, and I turned most of the outside, then all of the inside. Then I unscrewed it, and put it on the nova chuck, turned off the base and screw-holes, put a little indent in the bottom, and finished the outside.

If I’d been a little smarter, I would’ve finished the inside better before turning it around, but live and learn…

-- Dave - Santa Fe

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