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Wood For Bowls

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  • Wood For Bowls

    I've been using a pattern by Steve Good to try my hand at making some simple bowls (his candy dish). I've been using pine for the sides and red oak for the bottom (wood I had on hand).
    Any recommendations on hardwoods? Which would give me the smoothest surface?

  • #2
    When I made my first bowl I found it required a lot of sanding. If that is the case, a soft wood would sand a lot easier than a harder wood like oak. Mahogany comes to mind.
    Hegner Polymax- 3,Hegner Multimax-3,
    "No PHD, just a DD 214"


    • #3
      mahogany is nice but very expensive. There are several kinds, so make sure you get the cheapest, African, come to mind as being cheaper than Honduran. Check the cut off bins you can usually find some good pieces & varieties for $1 or $2.

      "Congress needs to realize it is a government of the people, by the people and for the people. Not of the people, by the people and for Congress." - Dr. Benjamin Carson, Pediatric Neurosurgeon, Johns Hopkins Hospital


      • #4
        I made my first bowl out of red oak, it took FOREVER to sand (wait no I gave up) and made a second one out of maple. Sanding is so much easier. I'll get back to the oak one one of these days.


        • #5
          I have made that bowl a few times and my favorite was out of oak. All pieces.

          I also make with walnut with a popular top and base.

          Which blades are you using? I use FD ultra reverse and find I have very little sanding to do except to the entry hole that I like to sand out.

          Don McFarland ​Member - Durham Woodworking Club


          • #6
            I have used mahogany, sapele (a relatively inexpensive mahogany lookalike) oak, walnut, maple and cherry for both sides, top trim and bottom. A drum sander with a fine grit paper, run at low speed in my drill press does a good job of smoothing the inside of the bowl or dish before putting the bottom on. You can do the same for the outside after you attach the bottom.

            A day without sawdust is a day without sunshine.

            delta 650, hawk G426


            • #7
              I've been using FD reverse tooth blades; haven't tried the ultras. I sand the interior with an oscillating spindle sander and the exterior with a disk sander.
              Hope to try some of Carole Rothman's bowl designs once I get her book.


              • #8
                I've used Oak, Poplar, Canary wood, Bamboo, Pine, Cocobolo, Cherry and Aspin but I like Oak and Poplar the best. You may want to start out with softer wood when making you first few bowls it will make sanding easier and mistakes easier to fix.
                Last edited by Band Saw Box; 03-05-2012, 05:05 PM.
                sigpic: Dan US Navy PR1 (Ret)
                To all who serve or have served, Thank you
                Well I am the worlds greatest scroller at my house.


                • #9
                  I use Alaska Birch, a white wood with a brown heartwood. I try to include the heartwood to provide a contrast. Some are made with the grain aligned, some with the grain offset. The most challenging are with spalted birch, as the varying softness makes sanding a challenge. Will try to coat them with a thin CA glue for the next batch and see if that equalizes the sanding. But the spalted do have interesting effects. Have also used old cutting boards, but be sure their glue joints are still solid.
                  Got Moose?


                  • #10
                    I spent the weekend sanding Aspen (my first bowl). Not much wood left and I'm still not thrilled with it. Aspen sands pretty easily but cutting 3/4" thick wood was difficult. Lowes in my area (Central NYS) carries 6" wide aspen.
                    Last edited by Block; 03-18-2012, 11:49 PM.


                    • #11
                      Block, what blade are you using? Aspen is about the softest wood around, so you should not be having a problem cutting 3/4". As far as sanding, you need to get to a high grit, 320 or 400, before it gets that lovely translucent look. At lower grits, it tends to look like crap.

                      And you can get down to about 1/8" wall thickness and it will still hold up. If it's a first bowl, don't be too hard on yourself, but a lot of my bowls really don't look like much until I get finished sanding. One day I'll post pictures of the ugly stages that I still go through. I've learned to be patient, but that's taken time.

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                      • #12
                        I used a #5 ultra reverse FD blade. I haven't used the saw (Delta 490) much yet so my skills are terrible. The bowl is 1/8" (no thinner though) thick in some places - can see light going through it!
                        I used 60 grit to remove large amounts of wood, and 100 and 150 to remove the 60 grit scratches.
                        I used Polydraw with 16 gentle "waves". The aspen is only 6" wide, so I designed the bowl to be an oval / rounded rectangle (around 5" by almost 7.5 inches). After cutting two rings and seeing how mediocre they were, and sanding them, I had enough fun and decided to not cut the other 2 rings. It's deep enough to be useful. The design is pretty nice though. The waves are subtle but noticeable.

                        I used Elmer's "pro" glue that I happend to have on hane (for eons). It gets thick very fast and maybe it did not squeeze out enough - the lines between rings show too much.

                        I glues 60 grit sandpaper to a PVC pipe l;eft over form my sump pump (around 2" outter diameter). That matched the shape of the "waves" well enough, but sanding the waves meant sanding acorss the rings and grain. sanding with the grain with 100 and 150 grit was hard due to the waves. I also tried using a Dremal drum sander but it cut way too fast even at a low speed. Really need one of those inflatable sanders or some other type of drum sander. I don't have a drill press but it's next on my list (likely the $110-120 Skill saw that surprisingly gets good reviews at Lowes and Amazon).


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