Creating a Winged Bowl
9/16/2008 1:06 AM
This month I tackled a new bowl form – the winged bowl. I have seen numerous examples of this style and I wanted to do something slightly different. I originally thought about doing another square bowl but decided that I could sort of combine two styles. In my first square bowl, there was a lot of added work in gluing up the blank, part of which will be cut off after turning. [more]
The classic winged bowl style starts with a bowl form with flat, planar projections extending from the sides of the bowl. I first saw a demo for this form by watching Beyond the Basic Bowl from Bill Grumbine.
My project started off with a square bowl blank of Zebrawood. I mounted the bowl on the lathe using a small faceplate. Like most bowls, I start by turning the bottom of the bowl as shown in the photo below. You can see that I have created a small foot that I can grip with my SuperNova2 four-jaw chuck. I have also created the underside of the wings. I found that it was important to turn at a relatively high speed (I turned at 1200 rpm) and ensuring that my gouge was sharp. When I didn’t follow these tips, I found that I ended up blowing out the trailing side of each wing. Because I wanted my wings to “droop”, I turned the wings as if I was hollowing a bowl.
With the bottom of the bowl turned, I spent a few minutes to sand out any tool marks. I sanded the bottom with the lathe running, being careful around the wings since the points are pretty sharp. I found it is important not to apply too much pressure to the sandpaper and just let the lathe do the work. If you push too hard, you will end up rounding the leading edges of the wings, while leaving the trailing edges nice and crisp.
At this point, I was able to remove the blank from the faceplate, and mount it on the four jaw chuck with the foot that I previously created. With the bowl now securely in the chuck, I turned the topside of the wings. This took a little finesse to keep the thickness uniform. As shown in the photo below, you can see the overall bowl shape taking form in the center of the wings. To complete the illusion, it was important to ensure that the top of the bowl formed a continuous line from the bottom half of the bowl, as if the wings are cutting the bowl in half. Bill Grumbine cautions you to take your time and slowly turn the bowl top since you can always remove more wood, but you can’t put it back on.
With the wings complete, I finished sanding the tops of the wings. I won’t need to touch them again with any tools. Now I am able to turn the inside of the bowl using standard bowl turning techniques. I choose not to do any embellishment on the rim since I really wanted the viewer’s attention focused on the wings and the striking grain pattern. I felt that doing much to the rim would detract from the rest of the form.
With the bowl now turned, I finished sanding the inside and rim. Normally I would use my Cole jaws or a jam chuck to flip the bowl back over and turn the foot away. For this bowl, the tenon I originally turned was kept small so that I could skip this step. If you look in the first photo above, you will see that I had already added some embellishment to the foot and didn’t feel a need to alter it any further.
The final step was to apply a finish. This is the step that has caused me a lot of trouble in the past. For this project I tried a new finish – a polyurethane gel. Several turners have recommended it. Since my local Rockler store is closing at the end of the month, I was able to get a good deal on the gel. Unlike other finishes I have tried, this went on very evenly using lint free paper towels. The little bit of finish I got on my fingers cleaned up easily which was also another bonus.
I really liked this bowl. I think that if I turn this form again, I will extend the wings a little further down so that the bowl will ultimately rest on the four points with the bowl suspended in air. A couple of items I learned from this first experiment:
- It is very important to get your faceplate accurately centered in the blank. In my case, I was off by about a 16th of an inch, which is visible to the naked eye on the narrow parts of the wings where the wings meet the bowl. It is not a glaring error, but one that I would be more careful about in the future.
- Be very careful in sanding the wings. It is easy to oversand at the wing-tips resulting in a non-uniform thickness. I was able to correct the problem by turning the wings a little thinner and being more careful the second time around.
- I should have spent more time sanding the four sides of the wings and applying a sealer to the endgrain. The endgrain absorbed the finish at a different rate than the sidegrain.
This form was very easy to turn once I got into it. Since this was birthday gift for our dogsitter, I will need to make one now for myself. I highly recommend trying one yourself.
2 comment(s) so far...
By Mitchel Sellers on
9/16/2008 7:18 AM
re: Creating a Winged Bowl
Awesome looking bowl!
By Keith Burtis on
9/16/2008 10:59 AM
re: Creating a Winged Bowl
Joe, this is uoir first winged bowl? Excellent job! I have turned many of these an i have also developed a winged sushi style dish that is rectangle shaped. You have done a great job here! Also, I have made these a bit off center as well, and though the wings are not perfectly centered you can create some cool effects! Your moving forward quickly.