Question about cutting Bowl blanks

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Forum topic by SawDustnSplinters posted 02-03-2010 01:46 AM 1838 views 1 time favorited 2 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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321 posts in 4835 days

02-03-2010 01:46 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question resource tip

Hey LJ’s I have Question about cutting Bowl blanks. I want to cut some blanks for bowls out of some excess Spalted Pecan, Mesquite, Bois D’ Arc out of some logs I have had air drying since last year and try selling them on eBay. I was looking at some of the Spalted Pecan bowl blanks that were listed and well they sure do not impress me much, not much character at all. I am not a woodturner, but I would like to learn one day, so I was asking what dimensions would be preferable to turners for say bowl or leg blanks and which direction the grain should run. I am assuming it would run lengthwise on say an 8×8x3 blank, which is the size I saw on eBay, but would it be better to cut the blanks thicker and a little longer and wider, cause some of the bowls I have seen on here seem to have higher sides which show more character of the wood. Also should I stay away from the heartwood or include it in some blanks. There is still some significant EMC in the wood but I am assuming that is preferable for turning.

-- Frank, Dallas,TX , , “I have a REALLY BIG chainsaw”

2 replies so far

View lew's profile


13332 posts in 4809 days

#1 posted 02-03-2010 02:34 AM

A lot will depend on the size/power of the lathe, on which it is to be turned. The larger the blank, the more it will “load down” the lathe. An 8×8 blank will fit on most lathes (even the mini ones).

As for the grain, the grain should run “across” the 8” (or what ever size) side- just like a the grain along the length of a board.

Moisture content can be an option of the turner. Turning bowls is easier with green wood. Turn the bowl to a rough shape with a ratio of sides/bottom to about 1” thick per 10” in diameter. Then the blank can be allowed to dry. I pack mine with shavings and wrap it in newspaper then into a paper grocery bag. Usually it takes about a year to finish drying- just sitting on the shelf. As it dries it will warp. Leaving it thick during drying will allow you to turn the irregularities out of the shape and still have a usable bowl.

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

View Andrew's profile


709 posts in 4252 days

#2 posted 02-03-2010 01:51 PM

Grain is a major consideration, generally I try to make the blank as big as I can. My lathe (hint hint) will accomadate 1 16 inch diameter, and larger if I turn off the end. The grain should go across the blank. Lay the split log on the flat side and band saw a circle, thats a bowl blank. If you were going to make boxes, hollow forms, or spindles you want the grain running the length of the blank for these 8-10 inches long is plenty, 5” or 6” for boxes. Vases, lamps stuff like that should be, could be 7” wide. Boxes never more than 3 1/2” wide unless you are going to do a loose lid. Suction lids are susseptable to wood movement, the wider they are the more movement. Lew has given a lot of good info as well.

-- Even a broken clock is right twice a day, unless, it moves at half speed like ....-As the Saw Turns

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