Using Steussy's 6" and 8" bowlsaw

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Review by Bob Collins posted 01-31-2009 09:11 AM 6405 views 1 time favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Using Steussy's 6" and 8" bowlsaw Using Steussy's 6" and 8" bowlsaw Using Steussy's 6" and 8" bowlsaw Click the pictures to enlarge them

I have used the bowlsaws on soft and hard wood blanks, including Australian Red Gum, expensive burl blanks and other exotic wood, I realised that FINALLY here is a tool for the serious and the hobby turner alike.
An inexpensive tool for saving the core of that expensive blank you bought which normally you would turn 75% of into saw dust. The size of the blank you start with will determine if you will get two or three bowls from the one blank and the more depth the blank has will give you more chance of shaping both bowls.

The argument “I don’t want to shape all my bowls square”. Well start with a 9”-10” diameter and after leaving a 1/2” or more rim for the larger bowl (this will allow for shaping or ornamental work) cut the groove of 5/8” inch you have approximately a 7” bowl for your second, admittedly the third bowl may be small but if you have the depth why no fit a lid to it and you have a nice novelty box. From a 9” blank 2” thick I
turned two platters for a two tiered cake stand this was a simple operation using the 8” bowl saw.

Waiting for the bowlsaws arrival I read the instruction on and had two blanks ready, rough shaped and the groove cut. First thing I made sure there was room for the bowlsaw in the groove, this OK I then TURNED THE LATHE TO IT’S LOWEST SPEED. Now I admit I was a bit timid the first time but with the bowlsaw resting on the tool rest I did the first cut by hand turning the lathe, held the saw with left hand and turned on the lathe, no bite, no cause for panic, the lathe revolved slowly and the saw sat in the groove, then proceeded to contact the wood for the cut, ease of, contact again and it wasn’t long before the saw had completed it’s half circle. The two bowls were held by a small margin of wood which after removing from the lathe are seperated with a slight tap with a rubber mallet. This is when the feeling of “I have done it gets you” as you hold the two bowls. Cutting the second blank was a breeze even though I did have a catch and all that happened was the revolutions of the lathe stalled, no flying missiles
to dodge, I just straightened the saw in the cut and all was underway again.

I have noticed that the bowlsaw has been compared to the other expensive corers on the market, this is Ok if you are turning bowls to make money, you can afford the many hundreds of dollars for these but what are you going to turn. 10 bowls from the one blank all the same shape but getting smaller with each one.
I’m the first to admit these are nice looking bowls but must get pretty boring doing them.

I’m a hobby turner, maybe I do things the simple inexpensice way and I hate wasting wood but I am also adventurous, if I think something can be done I will have ago at it.

USING MY 8’ BOWLSAW – I like to start with a 10” blank, 3” or more thick, once on the lathe I will shape the outside of the larger bowl how I want it to look, REMEMBER THIS SHAPE WILL DETERMINE THE SIZE OF THE SECOND BOWL, cutting the recess to fit the chuck, stop the lathe, turn the blank over and you are ready to cut the groove, think what are you going to do with the outer bowl this determines the thickness of the rim you leave, I start the 5/8” groove cut with a parting tool and then use a 1/2”bowl saw to take the groove to approx 3/4” from the bottom, I have made a 1/2” flat skew to level the bottom of the cut, you dont want to leave any ledges to stop the bowlsaw going to the bottom of the cut. Rough shape your second bowl making the chuck recess for later hollowing. Turn off the lathe, fit the bowlsaw in the groove to check it sits flat on the bottom and isn’t a tight fit. NOW TURN THE LATHE TO IT LOWEST SPEED. Placing the saw against the second bowl, hand turn the lathe to make the initial cleave, with the bowlsaw on the toolrest and fully into the groove but not contacting, turn on the lathe, let it get it’s revolutions full on and with both hands holding the saw commence the cut. Don’t force the saw just contact, cut and release, continue this until the saw does it half circle, can’t explain the feeling at this point maybe a feeling of achievement. Turn off the lathe and take the bowls off, they should be held together by a minute piece of wood which will break away with a tap of a rubber mallet. You now have to bowls. I usually complete hollowing and shaping the larger bowl before deciding if I want to attempt a third bowl or just happy to hollow and shape the second bowl which should be approximately 6-7” diameter, better than a heap of saw dust.

I have done a demonstration at the local club and found turners with 20-30 years experience wont change their ways, usually scrounge their timber on the cheap and dont worry about waste. 10-20 years turners scratched there heads, if it works why didn’t someone do it sooner, showed interest but have long pockets, under 10 years including novices and beginners showed a real interest but are influenced by the senior members of the club. I found the female members where more interested, the only negative for them was the muscle power needed to hand turn to start the cut. That is what husbands are for, well that is if
they are not one of the first group above.

My assessment of the bowlsaw it is a easy to use and safe tool that would be an asset to any turner, specially the hobby turner, inexpensive compared to anything else on the market. Buy six expensive blanks, get two bowls a blank instead of one and it has paid for itself. Saved a part of a tree in the meantime.

This is a great tool and more information can be seen on


-- RIP Bob C, Australia. Your best teacher is your last mistake.

View Bob Collins's profile

Bob Collins

2847 posts in 4964 days

10 comments so far

View lew's profile


13442 posts in 5035 days

#1 posted 01-31-2009 04:04 PM

I have used the 6” saw and have to “Ditto” everything Bob said.


-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View cabinetmaster's profile


10873 posts in 4838 days

#2 posted 01-31-2009 04:10 PM

I received my 6” bowlsaw this week and am anxious to go use it. Problem is no heat in shop and it is cold and expecting to get colder this week. Praying for some warm weather real soon.

-- Jerry--A man can never have enough tools or clamps

View pat sherman's profile

pat sherman

625 posts in 5652 days

#3 posted 01-31-2009 04:21 PM

nice review bob. i wish ihad the attachments to make bowls. but have not gotten them yet.

thinking of trying to get a new lathe. even if only a mini lathe. instead of this old sears. will see.

-- pat,ohio...

View motthunter's profile


2141 posts in 5079 days

#4 posted 01-31-2009 07:25 PM

now i see what the tool does.. thanks.. pretty cool

-- making sawdust....

View Cathy Krumrei's profile

Cathy Krumrei

364 posts in 5466 days

#5 posted 01-31-2009 10:40 PM

I received my BowlSaw..and still waiting for the “go ahead” with my hands. Love the reviews Bob, at least for now I can see how cool this is going to be. So many ideas already popping in my head. Love the idea of using up all the wood. It’s awesome to be able to get the matching bowls and the way your making all of them so quick..ahh love that. Do you still get a thrill everytime you do it? I can’t wait! Keep sharing…I’ll be watching. Thanks for sharing all the information.

View Bob Collins's profile

Bob Collins

2847 posts in 4964 days

#6 posted 01-31-2009 11:09 PM

Thanks for the comments. Yes Cathy, there is still that feeling when the saw has done it’s cut and specially
when you seperate the bowls. Also a nice feeling to see so little sawdust on the floor.

-- RIP Bob C, Australia. Your best teacher is your last mistake.

View toyguy's profile


1769 posts in 5117 days

#7 posted 11-26-2009 12:17 PM

Interesting review…... I have never seen one of these before, but can well imagine what the “old turners” in the club would say. I’m fairly new to turning myself…and a very open minded person. This tool sounds good to me from your review, but I have to be honest, ... without seeing it in use, I am a bit apprehensive; it seems a bit scary to me…. however I am off to have a look at the web site and do a bit more research.

Thanks for the review, even if it took me 299 days to see it….....LOL !

-- Brian, Ontario Canada,

View Bob Collins's profile

Bob Collins

2847 posts in 4964 days

#8 posted 11-26-2009 11:48 PM

G’day Brian, I was fairly new to turning when I did an evaluation on Dick’s bowlsaw and YES the first time was a bit scary. “How do I hold the saw and turn on the lathe at the the same time” but if you have done the hand turn cut, the groove is wide enough, with the lathe at low speed there were no problems. Even if the bowlsaw catches, the speed of the lathe will give you time to manouver the saw to continue cutting. When you have made the first successful cut you will wonder why all that wood has been wasted previously. I have successfully made small bowls, lidded boxes, lids for larger boxes with the cores, all depends on the size and thickness of the blank you core. There is a lot more info. on Dick’s web site.
By the way I have still have not convinced many turners here in Australia that the bowlsaw is a handy tool to have in the shop.

-- RIP Bob C, Australia. Your best teacher is your last mistake.

View reggiek's profile


2240 posts in 4550 days

#9 posted 11-27-2009 12:44 AM

I have one that Dick sent me for free when he was trying some different saw blades (I volunteered when I saw his offer – free saw for just giving him an eval) was without a handle and I quickly remedied that with some leftover ash I had. So far I have only been able to try it once but I got a fairly good core out of the blank (spalted hackberry) cut quite easily….I was pretty impressed….and it was pretty simple once I got the size of the groove big enough for the saw to fit in (this blade is a wee bit wider then the 5/8”). I haven’t sent back an eval to Dick yet as I only got to use it once – I will as I get to try more blanks)....but I think it’s a great idea….and the bowlsaw is definitely less expensive then the oneway $200.00 bowl coring system or the woodcut center saver for around $269.00…I am glad to see it catching on….I always hated to see all the expensive sawdust on the ground when I spun a bowl…..just seems a big waste…

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

View scrappy's profile


3507 posts in 4710 days

#10 posted 11-27-2009 09:24 AM

Looks very handy. Not quite in the budge. (still trying to save for a chuck and hopefully better lathe first)

Have bookmarked Dick’s web page. Mabey at income tax time.

Thanks for the great review.


-- Scrap Wood's the best...the projects are smaller, and so is the mess!

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