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Natural Edge Miniature Bowl Turning

The purpose of this article is to introduce the woodturning methods peculiar to miniature natural edge bowls and vases. No attempt is made to teach basic woodturning, tool usage, or sharpening - it is assumed you already have those skills.

A "natural edge" on a bowl or vase is simply a portion of the turning that retains its natural bark or surface - usually the rim of a bowl or the collar or front of a vase. This is intentionally left in place to enhance the look of the turning.

Blank The simplest form of "natural edge" turning is a bowl oriented in the turning block so that the curved surface of the log becomes the rim of the bowl - as shown in the photo. While the pith will not be part of the completed bowl, it was left in this half log to provide extra wood for attaching the turning to the lathe.

Since miniatures don't incur as much stress as full size turnings, you can attach them with CA glue to a waste block and chuck the two pieces using a scroll chuck (a screw chuck will also work).

BlankOnce the wood is mounted on the lathe, the first order of business is to round it down. Since you are going to leave some of the bark on the finished bowl, this needs to be done with very sharp tools, preferable a gouge. When this is done you will begin to see the shape the final bowl will take and how it will be accented by the various layers of the wood (heartwood, sapwood, Cambium layer, and bark).

BlankNext, shape and finish the outside of the bowl. You don't have to apply finish to the outside at this point, but it is a good idea to do so as the walls will be considerably thinner and weaker once the inside is hollowed out, and they might break under the stress of sanding.

BlankNow shape the inside. It doesn't matter whether this is done from the inside out, or the outside in. The only thing that is important is that the final cuts on the inside of the rim are made with a sharp tool, preferably a gouge, so that the bark isn't damaged.

BlankFinish the inside the same as you did the outside, then part off the bowl and finish the bottom. Because of the curvature of the log, these bowls appear to be slightly oval. They aren't.

This bowl was made from Apple wood.

To purchase a wood turning kit for making these natural edge bowls, or to see a selection of wood turning kits, visit our FGVminiATURESTM store on eBay.

Copyrightę 2003, by Frank G. Van Atta. All rights reserved.