Acacia – Block to Bowl

Right now I have a half dozen blocks of green acacia in the garage.  I spent a good portion of last Saturday turning a pair of bowls from a single block.  I first outlined the shape of the bowl on the block and cut it out on the bandsaw.  I screwed the block onto a faceplate and mounted it onto my midi-lathe.  Using my new bowl gouge, I shaped the outside as well as a tenon at one end to allow the workpiece to be held with a chuck while the bowl is being hollowed.  Once the outside of the bowl was turned to a pleasing shape and any sapwood and bark was turned away, I removed the bowl from the faceplate and secured it in my chuck using a set of bowl jaws designed specifically for holding you-know-what.

Deep Acacia Bowl

When remounting a bowl, there is often a slght eccentricity. A minute or so is all that is needed to true up the outside of the bowl.  Before hollowing, I sanded the outside of the bowl up to 320-grit.  Then, I hollowed the inside using the bowl gouge once again.  As the walls became thinner, I frequently checked for an even thickness using a pair of outside calipers.

With the hollowing complete, I sanded the inside.  I recently purchased a Skilton Sander, which essentially a sanding pad mounted on a bearings.  It utilizes the rotation of the workpiece on the lathe the help speed the sanding process.  It’s a neat tool and definately handy to have.

If the wood I was using was dried, this is when I would have applied a finish.  However, since the wood was green, skipped this step.  Finishing will take place after after the bowls have dried.  The last step is to cut the bowl free from the tenon in the chuck.  The bowl gouge is once again used to remove the bulk of the material while creating a slight hollow in the base so that it sits flat.  A parting tool finishes the job if there is not enough room for the bowl gouge.

Of the two, I like the shallower bowl.  It has a smooth inside curve which made it easier to sand.  It appears to float, as I cut a shallow bevel under the wide bevel which is visible.  The thin wall makes it very elegant yet functional.  While there is nothing wrong with the deep bowl, it doesn’t please my eye as much.  Maybe it’s due to the proportions.  The three facets on the inside made sanding a litle more challenging, as well.

Shallow Acacia Bowl

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