#mims30by30 26: Woodturning

Competed: Saturday 17th June 2017

A glorious day dawned and Lynda and I had stayed with Emma and Chris overnight in preparation for a day of woodturning. Lynda, Emma and I were uni friends and it was great to get away for the weekend and spend some time together. When I wrote woodturning on my list I had forgotten that Chris had bought a lathe and casually taught himself how to make bowls by watching YouTube videos. Fortunately Emma was quick to remind me and gave us a great excuse to visit. Chris is very skilled when it comes to building and making things, evidenced in their garden which has been totally transformed from a piece of lawn to veg patches, flower beds, a built in hot tub and platform up to the converted garage workshop. It’s a man-cave any guy would be proud of. And that is where we spent most of scorching Saturday – in the cool of a concrete garage, spinning a piece of wood on spike at high speed and gouging bits out of it. I’m usually pretty good at remembering details and information to write down at a later date, but I have not been able to retain much of the specific woodturning terms to share here. I think it showed me just how much concentration and patience you need to do it well – I clearly exerted all my energy into making the bowl and now remember no technical stuff (though I’m glad it wasn’t the other way round!)

Making a bowl, even a small one like we did, takes a long process. We started off with a staircase spindle to practice using different tools and try techniques out.

Chris showed us a couple of videos online of people making bowls so we could see some of what it involves. Lynda has done a short course before so knew what they were talking about, but I’ve not done anything like it before so took a bit longer to get my head round it.

The easiest way to show the process is through photos of (most of) the stages as we went. I’m deliberately saying ‘we’ as although I have bought the finished product home, both Chris and Lynda did a lot of work on it as well – very much a joint effort!

We used a 12cm diameter piece of Ash wood as the ‘blank’ to work with. The first job is to ‘centre’ it – find the centre point to be able to attach it to the lathe centrally. You then use a ‘roughing gouge’ tool to gradually start taking the outer wood off – to begin with it is quite bumpy and noisy, and you have to keep going till it is all smooth and the noise changes.

I wanted a ‘foot’ on the bottom, so we measured the width of it, marked it in pencil and used that as the guide for where to be curving the base of the bowl to. Chris helped shape the bowl and smooth off the edges when I was making dents I should have! You constantly have to move the tool rest to keep it as close to the wood as possible. Lynda used a small ‘bowl gouge’ tool to try and cut out the wood in the middle of the foot and make the edges as sharp as possible.


This was the outside of the bowl finished, we then covered it in Danish oil to help seal it before turning it round to hollow the inside. I wanted a sharp outside edge and rounded inside edge, which worked pretty well. You can get rid of a lot of wood quite quickly to begin with, but then have to be careful not to go too deep and hit the base. This was the final product! A true labour of love over many hours, but absolutely worth it.

Huge thanks to Chris for letting us come and have a go at woodturning. I really enjoyed it, there is a lot of skill in this beautiful art form that requires patience and focus as each piece is unique. I’ll treasure this bowl.

To see the full list of 30 things I’m doing, you can see the original post here.


One thought on “#mims30by30 26: Woodturning

  1. Pingback: Introducing #mims30by30 | step by little step in life

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