Turning a Fruit Bowl, Article 1

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I want to take a moment and stress safety. Basically you are using some very sharp tools which you will use to shape a spinning wooden block. Common sense goes a long way, use your safety devices, fol…

I want to take a moment and stress safety. Basically you are using some very sharp tools which you will use to shape a spinning wooden block. Common sense goes a long way, use your safety devices, follow the manufactures instructions and pay attention; do not become distracted. I have found that, if something distracts me, I stop, turn the lathe off and deal with the distraction.

A block of wood 4” to 5” thick and 12 “square will make a nice size Fruit Bowl. Size is your choice. You will have to do two things. 1. Attach the wooden block to the lathe. 2. Make the turning block some-what round. Use a large compass draw circle of the size you want, be sure and mark the center, I use a awl to mark the center, tap to hammer the awl into the wood about 1/4” inch. Using the line you drew with the compass as a guide, cut the turning block outside the line. I use a band saw, when I was first beginning and did not have all the tools; I used a chainsaw to cut the corners off. There are several ways to remove the wood; basic idea is to get the block of wood as round as possible this makes for less work and the beginning of the turning process much easier.

The next step to attach the turning block to your wood lathe. There are numerous ways to do this depending on your skill level. I’ll cover one of the basic ways to attach wood to your lathe using a face plate. This utilizes a waste block which is glued to the back of your turning block and centered within the circle on you drew with the compass. Which side is the back is for you to decide. You want use a strong type of wood, oak, ash, walnut, etc. for the waste block. I reuse my waste blocks several times; my preferred wood is White Oak of at least 3/4” thick, you do not want the face plate screws to extend beyond the waste block. The waste block should be approximately 1” larger in diameter than the diameter of the face plate. Waste block needs to be centered on the turning block; draw a circle on the waste block and mark the center, drill a small hole at center (make sure the hole is vertical) and place a small finishing nail through the waste block. The nail will be used to find the hole in the center of the turning block, remove the nail before attaching the face plate. The waste block can be sawed round on a band saw or cut the corners off on a table saw and mount the waste block on the face plate and turn it round on the lathe. The first time I attach the face plate to the waste block I index the waste block so you can reattach to the face plate the same way each time. Most face plates have an index mark. You are now ready to glue the waste block to your turning, place a piece of heavy construction paper (brown paper bag) between the two pieces (glue on both sides of the paper), line up the nail with the center hole in the turning block and clamp together. The reason for the paper between the waste block the turning block, is the waste block can be knocked off without damaging your turned fruit bowl. Attach the face plate to the turning block, and then attach the face plate with the turning block to the head stock of the lathe. Check to make sure there is no movement between the turning block and the face plate; give it a good health tug before turning the lathe on. If there is any movement reattach the waste block.

You are now ready to start using Your Wood Turning Tools; you will need a Roughing GougeFree Reprint Articles, a Bowl Gouge and a Scraper. Turning the Fruit Bowl will be the next topic for my next article. Be sure and visit my web site at Please email any comments or questions.

Article Tags:
Fruit Bowl, Turning Block, Face Plate, Waste Block

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Steve Nicholson is a retired Forester and is now a dedicated wood turner. His wood turnings are for his family and he also sells his projects in a gift shop and by word of mouth. He also owns and operates a website that sells wood turning tools. Please stop by and browse the tools he also has a very interesting blog.


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