Green Wood Bowls

I obtained another log from the Lawrence Storms to make some salad bowls.  
The wood came out of a pile so I am not exactly sure what kind of wood it is.
Probably sweet gum or maple.  
Wood from the urban jungle is often overlooked in favor of the more exotic woods available.  
Free to me, is very appealing.

Raw Log

I used a small electric chain saw to trim the top and bottom of the log and then cut it into four rounds.  
The first round is mounted and ready for turning.  Doesn't look like much at this point, does it.

Beginning Turning

It is not taking long to get the wood round.  Another nice thing about green wood is  that you don't
have to sharpen your tools as often and there is no dust to speak of.  Everything falls directly to the


It is time to figure out  what would make the best looking salad bowl and start turning down to size.

Cutting to Size

The right side is going to become the bowl bottom.  The piece of wood angled in is called a  tenon.
This will be used by the chuck to hold the bowl when turning and hollowing it out. 

Turning Inside

The bowl is now reversed.  The chuck is holding the tenon, allowing me to hollow out
the bowl.  Since the tenon is green wood, it is pretty easy to crush it when tightening down the
chuck. I liberally apply thin CA glue (super glue) to the tenon and let dry for half an hour or so.
That works out pretty well.

My camera crapped out after taking this photo so I have no photos of the raw turning in the green
state.  I turned four bowls and placed them in three layers of paper bags for two months.  The idea
behind the bags is to slow the drying process and hopefully minimize cracking and warping.

Out of the Bag

The bowl out of the bag looks a little different , doesn't it. I wonder how much it warped.


It is not too easy photograph a warp. It measures out to about 1/2" difference from top to bottom
and side to side. This is commonly called a roughed out bowl.

Getting the outside round

The first thing to do is to turn outside round.  This takes 10 or  15 minutes.

Turning the inside

Now it is time to turn  the inside of the bowl round and to take it to the proper depth and thickness.
I have a heck of a time with bowl gouges although I am getting better.  

Being left-handed I think causes some problems too.

So, I use a parting tool to get the  walls to the correct thickness.
I use a combination of bowl gouge, scrapers and sanding tools to work on the inside.

Ready for Sanding

Other than painting, there is not much I dislike more than sanding.

I buy packs of assorted sanding belts from Cummins or Harbor Freight and cut them into sanding strips.
That is an economical way to get your sanding materials.

I use grits from 80 to 400.

These bowls will be finished with 400 grit.


This is sounded to 320 Grit.  The inside will be easy to clean up with a little power sanding.
There is some tear out on the outside of the bowl (the light blotchy pieces).  
These get filled in with sawdust and super glue.


There is a new super glue accelerant out that works considerably better than the old pump spray stuff that
evaporated out of the bottle faster than you could use it.  
Accelerants speed the drying time to a matter of seconds.  That saves a lot of time.

Fixed Tearout

The bowl exterior has been repaired.  Now for the inside of the bowl.

Cleaning up the interior

Cracks are repaired on the inside of the bowl in  a similar manner.  

I use a  Craftsman 3D sander with only one pad for the interior.  

Care is needed in using these types of  sanding pads because it is pretty easy to inadvertently dig into the bowl wall.

There are sanding pads available what are winged so the edges curl up as sanding speed is increased.

 I use those for the final finishing.

Tung Oil Finish

I need a finish that is food safe.  I prefer tung oil.  
It has good penetrating properties and looks pretty good.  
One coat is applied to the bowl interior and exterior.

Tung oil Applied

The first coat is applied.  Now it is time to finish the bowl bottom.

Cole Jays

This Frisbee looking plate is in actuality a set of Cole jaws.  
Cole jaws are used for grasping the bowl by its sides so the bowl bottom is exposed for finishing.

Chain Grinder

I picked up another time saver -  chain saw links attached to a grinder.  

A couple words of caution are necessary for this type of device.  

Use double eye protection - Glasses and full face shield.
Use hearing protection.
Hold on tight!

I use this to remove the tenon.
The bowl bottom is then scraped and sanded down.  A coat of tung oil is applied.

Bowl Bottom Finished

All done.  Looks pretty good.  

Bowl Set

And the end result.  Four bowls of approximately........kind of.......sort of the same size.  

No one can ever accuse me of using a lathe duplicator!