Building a Bowl From a Board
How to Build a Bowl From a Board
Yes, you can build a bowl from a flat board. In this article I will show you how to make a compound miter bowl from a flat board.
In most cases you can get more than one bowl from a board.
This is a way to use highly figured domestic and exotic hardwoods. It's much less expensive to make a bowl from a board than it is to buy a figured one piece turning blank.
Cutting Calculator and Software to Help
This photo shows a section of a board that was laid out to show how to cut two bowls from the same board. The numbers are one bowl and the letters are another. If your board is long enough for two bowls, you should use this cutting method because the grain will match better.
You don't need to actually mark out the board being cut but you do need to mark the segments after you cut them so you can keep them in order. Especially if you're making two bowls.
The first step in designing these types of bowls is to decide on a diameter, a slope, and the amount of segments you want to use.
I usually go with 12 segments because I think it looks the best.
A slope of between 30 and 45 degrees looks normal. Anything less looks flat and more looks too steep. I would suggest staying in this range.
Diameter is totally up to you. It can be anything as long as you have the correct material.
The board I used for the bowls below was 48" long, 4-3/4" wide and 1/2" thick. You can go thicker if you want.
To cut the segments, I set my tablesaw blade to 9 degrees and the miter sled to 12 degrees. In this case the segment length was 2-5/16". The segment length is measured on the upper outside of each segment. I will end up with 8" diameter bowls.
The segments seen here for these two bowls were all cut from the same board using the dimensions given above.
I cut thin zebrawood dividers and glued them between the segments. Then I added a zebrawood bottom. The end result was the bowl (top left) in the Design alternatives pictures below.
This picture shows how to mark the segments. After the cut is made you flip the board, mark the length and cut again. Keep flipping and cutting until you have enough segments.
I use the first segment as a template for marking all the rest.
Once you have them all cut it's a good idea to clean up the edges. I do that by hand with a piece of sandpaper glued to a flat board. I use kitchen sink cutouts because they are very flat.
If you don't have access to a sink cutout you can buy small pieces of melamine at most all lumberyards.
This photo shows a few different ways to do compound bowls. There are lots of ways you can do these.
- Top left- Curly oak with zebrawood dividers and a zebrawood bottom..
- Top right - redwood burl with dyed veneer dividers and a gaboon ebony bottom.
- Bottom left- claro walnut with black dyed veneer dividers and claro walnut bottom.
- Bottom right- quilted maple with no dividers and quilted maple bottom.
Compound Miter Bowl Examples
The bowl on the right is the one we built in this article. The other one is tulipwood.
These three bowls were all made with the same quilted maple board. I dyed them with a water base dye then lacquered them.
Compound Mitered Zebrawood
Tulipwood With Gaboon Ebony Staved Wood Bowl
Nested Compound Bowls
Questions & Answers
Is there a formula that you use to enlarge or reduce proportionally for the nested blue bowls?
You can change the length of the segments to change the size of the bowls. There are calculators online that give the lengths of bowl sizes.Helpful 1