I’d like to re-iterate that there really is no substitute for spending time with an experienced teacher; the subtleties of tool angles and the physical movements involved are all crucial to achieving success. Even a very slight deviation from the correct technique could lead to less than desirable results.
Any sharp edge offered up to a spinning piece of wood will remove material, but there is a world of difference between scraping and slicing. A teacher will be able to identify any adjustments which need to be made and point out what you are doing if things aren’t quite right. There are a growing number of people running courses in pole lathe bowl turning now, so getting on a workshop is getting easier all the time.
As mentioned in the video intro, it is my hope that the footage will help those people who are, for whatever reason, unable to get on a course with a tutor. It will also serve as a visual reference/reminder for anyone who has been on a beginner bowl turning course.
I will be adding to this blog and sharing more information in the near future so please sign up to my newsletter below to be notified...
Courses I Run:
Bowl Turning - My group bowl turning course dates are on my courses page here (one to one by arrangement, get in touch!)
Tool Forging - To book a forging day email me to arrange a date.
Lathe parts and tools I have for sale:
Lathe Centres (steel spikes which the mandrel and bowl blank spin between) - Click Here
Bowl Turning Hook Tools - Click Here
Listed below are links to the items mentioned in the video:
The files and paper I use for sharpening the tools;
DMT diafold conical sharpening steel (x fine)
Wet and dry paper 600 grit
Wet and dry paper 1200 grit:
DMT double sided flat sharpening file, fine/x fine
This is the first time I’ve attempted to share information on a video. No doubt it will be far from perfect! A video tutorial is inevitably one-sided; as a learner you can’t ask the video questions. Questions will undoubtedly arise, and stumbling blocks are unavoidable. Please feel free to ask me any questions you have as a result of using the video tutorial. You can contact me via my website.
I will endeavour to answer any frequently asked questions about the tutorial and post the questions and my answers here for the benefit of other learners. I may also add a series of shorter videos to explain specific parts of the process in more detail, if there is a requirement for that, and where my time allows it.
The lathe diagrams provided are just one way of making a bowl lathe. Use it as a guide but adapt the plans to suit your own situation. One thing to consider is the size of the bed and the uprights; make sure it will fit in your vehicle if you are planning on travelling with your lathe!
Finally I would like to say a few words of thanks. To Robin Wood for the initial inspiration which got me started turning bowls. To my friend Terence McSweeney who’s bowl turning journey started about the same time as me; I learned a lot by spending time with him.
To my Father who very kindly provided the lathe plans and drawings for this blog post - thanks Dad. To my partner Fern who helps me with anything web related (computers seem to malfunction whenever I get close to them). To Zed Shah for filming this series which I hope will help to spread the pole lathe bowl love far and wide. To all the turners, past, present and future. Thank you all from the bottom of my bowl-shaped heart!
Once your lathe is built you will ‘fine tune’ it as you learn to use it. The tension of the bungee cord (or how springy the pole is if you choose the traditional set-up), the height of the block you stand on, the width of the tool rest...there are so many variables which will need to be adjusted to your own physical requirements.
Tool control will come with practice. Enjoy the experience of learning a new skill. Expect it to be fun but also at times frustrating, bewildering and seemingly impossible at first.
With persistence and patience you will soon feel more at home behind the lathe. I hope you will enjoy the journey.
PDF Lathe Plans opposite or directly from Google Docs here;