some bowl turning

hook tool; outside of bowl


There’s many things I should be doing; but the bowls from this apple tree have me captivated lately. I got a chance to take some pictures of the work a bit today. The one above shows the hook tool as I am finishing cutting the outer shape of the bowl.  Below is another view of the same work.

another view


For someone who has mostly done spindle-turning (furniture parts) it’s strange to be cutting with the tool so far below the centerline of the lathe…but that’s how this works, as I understand it.

finishing cutting the inside


and here is a detail of the same step:

hook below center, cutting inside


Fun stuff. I have several more to do before this wood is gone. I need the exercise anyway…

bowl blank

7 thoughts on “some bowl turning

  1. Where did you get your tools made? Your blacksmith friend?

    I made a spring pole lathe with a bungie cord (my shop is too small for a real pole, and finding springy poles in a city takes luck.)

    I tried using my normal tools, but they didn’t work very well. I never got a chance to try hook tools, but have always wanted to.

    • Badger

      yes, Mark Atchison made my hooks. I use two different ones. I will post photos of them soon.

      I have turned bowls with gouges. make them very sharp, and take the lightest cut you can…it’s slow. once you have a hook, you can sail along.

  2. I like that you have been able to make such a variety of beautiful bowls with just a few simple modifications on your spindle turning lathe. It is also encouraging to see that you were able to do it all with just a couple hook tools (actually from the photos, maybe one?). I may finally have to give the bowl turning a try. Two questions: Is your mandrel spiked or does it friction fit into a bored mortise in the blank? If spiked — with what? Also, it looks like you have changed the location of the cord on the treadle so that the cord passes more straight down — Is this for more power? Thanks.

    • Dave

      I have just two hooks, but I have to be careful…I might be getting into this sport, then I would accumulate more. thankfully this apple tree is running out & I will concentrate on joinery again!

      mostly I just use one, though. and sometimes some small gouges. just spindle gouges tho, not modern bowl gouges.

      My mandrel has a round tenon. it’s easy. I just heard from Robin Wood & he recommends beefing up the diameter of the mandrel. I will try it.

      yes, the cord goes right thru the bed of the lathe. when I turn spindle stuff, it goes out past the bed, for a longer throw. I find the straight-down method works better for the bowls. Today I turned a sopping wet apple bowl, 7″ diameter. Weighed 6 lbs when it went on the lathe.

  3. Traditionally in pre-16th century finds that I’ve studied for bowl cores are mostly friction fit with round hole. Some are spiked, and usually it was flat bars or spikes like nails.

    It seems to me that the setup for a friction fit mandrel would be easier to make for a first try.


  4. These are exciting. Peter: let’s say you had to turn cocobolo. For half-columns or something. It’s incredibly hard. Do you hold the gouges at a lower angle? Would you adjust your tool rest? Do you think they ever used a metal lathe for ebony etc.?

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