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Atkins Saws




Turning a Square Bowl by David Leader

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I started 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.

We also 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. 

Being a 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.


David Leader

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 bowl.

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.

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Stanley Chisels



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