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Blog

Pole Lathe Bowl Turning

jarrod

Not much time to write these days with Christmas coming and a few order to take care of. One of which is a set of 4 bowls. I spend 2 days on the lathe turning 13 bowls. 3 sets of 4 for my customer to choose from and a nesting set. I use a foot powered lathe called a "spring pole" lathe. If you are unfamiliar, you can see one in use here with robin wood using a pole lathe. Robin is a full time pole lathe bowl turner and lives in England. When I first started turning bowls I watched this video about 100 times trying to get any little details from the video. Robin is a pretty big inspiration to me partly because he makes a living using old technology. I believe that old technique are still viable to some degree. Especially these days when we get to choose from cheap mass produced items. I am trying to promote that idea here in my community. Spending money locally is good thing. Mostly this concept is promoted with food. I say it should go into all kinds of things like wooden bowls, clothes, shoes, iron/metal work, basketry, etc. Why not?

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One of the bowls I turned will be a nesting set of 2. The technique saves material and time. Instead of turning 1 bowl out of large wood and actually turning all the wood from the interior of the bowl into shavings I'll get 2 bowls. I use specially shaped tools which I forge myself to cut the groove in between the 2 bowls and break off the outer bowl. I then mount the inner bowl and turn that.
This technique especially on a pole lathe is rare and takes some practice. When I'm turning I can't see or fit my fingers into the slot so turning is by feel alone. This set is by far my best yet. I'm still learning, sometimes I cut through the outer bowl. The outer bowl pictured is about 8" diameter. I'm proud of being able to do this. I'll turn the inner bowl tomorrow.
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