How To Turn A Bowl On A Lathe From Scrap Wood?

Most of the people, working with wood, end up having lots of scrap wood all over the workshop. Sometimes, if they are not creative enough, they end up throwing away these seemingly useless pieces. It was my routine too. Until I figured how I could turn the pieces into beautiful artifacts that everyone would admire. No. I am not selfish with information, and that is why, in this article, I will show you how to make a nice wooden bowl out of leftover wood.

How To Turn A Bowl On A Lathe

Like in every other trade, there are tools and materials that we need to have before we continue, and here is the list:


  • Scrap Wood
  • Bowl Gouge
  • Sand Paper
  • Wood Finish
  • Pencil
  • Wood Glue
  • Danish oil


You may not have all these at your workshop if you are starting out or just trying out turning bowls from wood, but be sure to work where you can access them easily. You can find powerful woodworking tools like lathe machine right here.

Step By Step DIY Bowl Turning Guide (From Scrap Wood)

Step #1 – Preparing the scrap wood

Identify suitable pieces of wood to use for the bowl. You can mix both hardwood pieces and softwood pieces. You can get them all from the nearby workshop where many unused scrap wood might have been left useless. Pass each of the pieces of wood selected through the planer to ensure the edges are parallel. You may need to use the table saw to make them the same thickness.
Step #2 – Cutting the scrap wood into the shape

Now set your table saw to cut equal-length pieces of wood at 45 degrees to the blade. Repeat this step for every piece of wood until you have cut enough pieces.

Step #3- Assemblies

When you have completed the previous step, take a clean plane surface (or a bench) and stick a piece of sandpaper onto it so that the active side faces upwards. Take each piece of wood from step 2 and rub the freshly cut sides on the sandpaper to smoothen them.

Now take 3-pieces of the wood and arrange them such that the base and the top are hexagonal. They should fit perfectly if you were consistent when cutting them in step 2. We will assume that all your pieces fit into this shape when taken 3 at a time.

Now smear wood glue on the inner surfaces (those that were not exposed when you created the shape) of each of the three pieces of wood. Stick the three to each other and use at least 4 sets of clamps. Leave them in this condition for a while, so they get strongly bonded together before you work on them again.

Repeat this step for all the pieces of wood you have until all are in sets of three and remember to mix soft and hardwood pieces.

How To Turn A Bowl On A Lathe - interior

Step #4 – Creating the Bowl blank

In this step, we will use what we have created in step 3 to make a bowl blank. Unfasten the clamps from the sets and arrange two sets side by side on the bench while they stand on the hexagonal base.

Smear wood glue on one rectangular face on each of the sets and stick the sets together. Repeat this for another two sets and finally stick them to the two sets you previously glued together. You now have four of the original 3-a set glued together; we will refer to this as a 4 X 3 set. Use two pairs of clamps to hold them tightly together for some time. Use a scraper to remove any excess glue from all the faces of the 4 X 3 set. Repeat this step to create more 4 X 3 sets.

Combine several 4 X 3 sets from the previous step, stick them together using wood glue and several sets of clamps to hold them together for some time. (For this step, you may also add a single basic set at a time, but that would take more time).

We have, eventually, created our bowl blank, although it does not seem to be in good shape. Take a compass, adjust it to a suitable radius, and assume the center of the plane as precisely as you can. Now draw a circle on the plane, ensuring that the circumference is always within the bounds of the plane.

Use a scroll saw or jigsaw to carefully trace the circle you have drawn. It will cut out the unwanted parts of the plane, leaving a circular plane suitable for tuning our bowl.

Step #5

We have a perfect plane, and it is now time to turn our bowl! Now centrally attach a faceplate to one face of the rounded bowl plate using faceplate screws. Mount the bowl blank on the lathe and lock it. Set the tool rest appropriately and fire up the lathe.

Step #6: Turning the bowl exterior

With the lathe rotating slowly, place the bowl gouge on the tool rest and let it cut lightly into the bowl blank. Move the bowl gouge slightly along the tool rest and remember to shape the bowl base as may be necessary. Adjust the tool rest as may be necessary while focusing on the uniformity in the exterior. Unless on purpose, do not let the gouge cut too deep into the bowl blank. The bowl base and the rim are two areas that you should pay keen interest on while curving the exterior of the bowl. Now cut a recess on the bottom of the bowl blank, which will be used to hold it in place when you curve the inside.

Step #: 7 Curving the inside

Adjust the tool rest to align it parallel to the face of the bowl blank. While it is rotating slowly, use the bowl gouge to make gradual cuts focusing on the inner shape of the bowl. Remove materials from the inside as much as you can, but be sure you have maintained a uniform thickness of the bowl. Now shape the bowl lips as may be needed taking care not to cause any cracks on the material.

Step #8: The Finishing

The bowl is in good shape now. The next thing is to sand and apply it to bring smooth finishing. While the bowl is still mounted on the lathe, turn it slowly to ensure it is rotating freely, then fire up the lathe and maintain a slow speed. Use a piece of sandpaper on both the inside and the outside of the bowl for a smoother feel.

Once you are sure it is smooth enough, detach the bowl from the lathe and apply a thin uniform layer of Danish oil or any other finish of your liking. For even a better outcome, you may apply a second layer of finish after you have sanded on the first layer. Now, look at the bowl. Who would think it is made from scrap wood?

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