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Woodturning Basics: The Bowl

Learn fundamental woodturning techniques as you create one-of-a-kind bowls from start to finish.
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Expand your technique toolkit as you learn how to turn a bowl alongside renowned instructor Michael Kehs. Start by choosing the ideal wood and creating your bowl blank. Learn essential tips for safety, setting up your tool rest and maintaining your gouges. Then, see how to mount your blank, make your initial cuts with a bowl gouge, add a tenon and shape the outside of your bowl. Find out how to achieve even walls as you pare away the center wood. Create a custom jam chuck to hold your hollow bowl in place, before sanding to remove tool marks, paring down the tenon, applying an even finish and buffing for a smooth, professional result. Plus, you'll learn to dry and true up a green bowl made from a freshly felled tree. Turn wood into unique vessels that stand out from store-bought!


Michael Kehs



Michael Kehs' interest in woodturning and woodworking can be traced back to building birdhouses with his dad. Today, Michael turns and carves inspired pieces and builds custom furniture. His work can be found in collections from coast to coast, including in the permanent collection of the Wood Turning Center in Philadelphia.

By This Expert

Introduction & Getting Started

01: Introduction & Getting Started

Meet your instructor, Michael Kehs, and preview the amazing bowls that can be made on a lathe. Then, discover which parts of a tree are ideal for bowl making and venture outdoors with Michael as he harvests the blank for the bowl he shapes in this class.

18 min
Shop Safety & Tool Sharpening

02: Shop Safety & Tool Sharpening

Learn what to do before you turn on the lathe to stay safe and get great results. Michael leads you through the safety gear you'll need and offers tips for getting your tool rest in tip-top condition. Then, discover how to maintain your gouges to get accurate cuts while minimizing tearout.

13 min
Mounting & Rounding the Blank

03: Mounting & Rounding the Blank

It's time to start turning! Learn three great methods for mounting your blank, depending on its size. Then, make the initial cuts as Michael shows you the correct way to use a bowl gouge. Learn how to add a tenon to your piece, then master edge and side cuts as you shape the outside of your bowl.

24 min
Hollowing the Bowl & Making a Jam Chuck

04: Hollowing the Bowl & Making a Jam Chuck

Pare away the center wood just a bit at a time as Michael shows you how to get even walls, using a double-ended caliper for accurate measurements. Then, create a custom jam chuck, which you'll use to hold your bowl now that it's hollowed out.

22 min
Drying & Truing Up a Green Bowl

05: Drying & Truing Up a Green Bowl

If you've used a blank from a freshly felled tree, then you'll need to let your bowl rest for up to a year before you complete it. Wood changes shape as it dries. Michael offers tips for truing up your dried bowl inside and out as you refine it into its final shape.

29 min
Sanding & Finishing the Bottom

06: Sanding & Finishing the Bottom

Sand your bowl right on the lathe as you remove tearout, working your way from 80-grit down to 320-grit sandpaper. Michael demonstrates with a close-quarter drill fitted with a sanding pad, and gives detailed instruction on how to use this handy tool. Then, pare down the tenon and complete the bowl.

27 min
Applying the Finish

07: Applying the Finish

Discover which finishes work best for each specific project and learn professional application techniques for getting an even all-over finish. Then, on a lathe outfitted with buffing pads, Michael takes you through the three-step process of buffing a bowl inside and out for professional results.

25 min