Turning a Square Bowl
by David Leader
this project with a piece of Catalpa from my
neighbor's tree. He got tired of the mess, and
I lost a great source of bait. OTOH, I did get a
fair amount of free wood, and as all turners know,
free wood is good wood.
know that nice chucks cost nice money. Before
there were 3 and 4 jaw chucks, there were faceplates
and jam-chucks. That's what I'm going to use.
A jam-chuck is a piece of wood on a faceplate that
fits the inside of the bowl that you're making, and
jams in to hold it tight.
paranoid boy scout, I use my tailstock to secure
the bowl as well, a wood spacer on the point keeps
it from marring the bottom.
As you can see, the wood wasn't at
all square. The first step is to figure out how big a
piece you can put on your lathe. Most people who start turning
get a lathe with a 12" swing-over, figuring that they'll NEVER
want a bowl bigger than that. Right. A 12" lathe
makes a bowl that ends up about 10 1/2" wide because the tool
rest has to go somewhere, and that's a significant chunk of
iron. A square bowl complicates things because the corners
stick out, as diagonals will, further reducing the size of the
bowl part of the piece. Now you're down to a bowl shape in
the center of about 7", if everything works out just right.
The math is: 7 squared = 49, 10 squared = 100, and the sons of
the squaws = the squaw of the hippopotamus. Or something like
that. A 14" swing-over allows you a square about 8" across the
The second step is to square up the
chunk of wood. I looked at it to decide which was the thicker
edge and measured off that one.
As luck would have it, I end up
with a piece of wood about 8X8X2", sure I could have grabbed a
piece of 8/4-8" plank and sawed off a chunk, but where's the
hunt in that.