The big oak burr is nearly finished...

22 April 2012, Woodturning in practice, Would you like to leave a comment?

This rather large piece of timber was rough turned some time ago and is now dry enough to be completed. As you can probably guess from the photos, it presented a few challenges along the way!

Here she is, back on the lathe after a few years in my drying shed. There is a rather substantial faceplate screwed to the rear, but it offers little support for the overhang – I will need to turn this very slow!

As you can see from the first photo, I’ve trued up the top edge and turned the inside bowl to a larger size. This took some time, since everything seemed to start shaking at about 250 rpm!


This is the fun bit… just watch those fingers!


The next stage is beading the rim. Again it is much harder when the bowl is turning slow. It’s also a bit tricky with the sanding and much of the fine finishing needs to be done by hand when the bowl is stationary.


The bowl now turned and ready for carving. The two flat edges will be shaped and carved - this is where it was removed from the tree.


This stage takes the most amount of time to complete, but the effect is worth it. The contrast between the smooth inner bowl and carved rim is quite dramatic.

I aim to have the bowl finished quite soon and it should be appearing on the website within the next two weeks. I just can’t wait to see how the colour will look after oiling…

Jonathan Leech

Written by Jonathan Leech

Jonathan Leech is a woodturner working and living in Cumbria. He specialises in making bowls, dishes and platters from local sustainably sourced timber. Read more or about Jonathan or see a selection of his work.

Your comments

  1. Gravatar of chris thorpe
    chris thorpe6 May 2013 17:34

    Hi Jonathan

    great work as always

    im looking at taking a spin at a natural bottomed burr bowl like your big oak one. Was wondering what tool you use to texture the top, and also any tips on reducing / eliminating tear out from the rim where to natural shape of the burr meets the turned rim ?

    any correspondence will be greatly appreciated


  2. Gravatar of jonathan leech
    jonathan leech7 May 2013 19:47

    Hi Chris,

    Many thanks for the comments. The top was carved by hand with a small carving gouge - I carved away from the rim of the bowl, but stopped a good inch in from the edge. This last bit was carved inwards, starting about a quarter of an inch in from the edge. Before I started any carving, I used an orbital sander to give a crisp outline to the outer edge - this really is essential, since the outer few millimeters is to delicate to use with any tools.. hope this makes sense?

    I'd be delighted to give more advice if you wish - please email or call if you'd prefer.

    Best wishes

  3. Gravatar of Donnie Macaskill
    Donnie Macaskill18 November 2015 22:19

    Hi Jonathan,wonder if you can tell me any other oils I can use for food safe on fruit bowls apart from Danish oil ,I find that Danish oil ends up a bit dull I would like something that would give it a warm look about it .
    (but food safe)

    kind regards Donnie

  4. Gravatar of Jonathan Leech
    Jonathan Leech20 November 2015 09:16

    Hi Donnie,
    One option to consider is Osmo Polyx Top Oil - it is available with a hint of colour and can provide a very durable finish. It is designed for wooden floors, but is becoming popular with wood turners as well. I think it is available in matte, satin and semi gloss.

    My only issue with this (and also Danish oil) is that any natural cracks and burrs seem to hold the oil for a while, before letting it drip down slowly overnight - leaving marks over a smooth surface. Because of this, I much prefer to use mineral oil.

    What kind of timber are you turning at the moment?

  5. Gravatar of Donnie Macaskill
    Donnie Macaskill21 November 2015 20:15

    Hi Jonathan, turning mostly elm burr and a little oak burr.all the burrs I have ,have been air dried for the last 10 years so I have great color in them .
    On a different note I just got some Black Palmira (Indian Palm ) have you ever used it ? its like a brick!!
    going to make some tea lights with it.


  6. Gravatar of Jonathan Leech
    Jonathan Leech23 November 2015 17:55

    Hi Donnie,
    I've not tried using Indian Palm, but it sounds like a very hard wood! - I'll look out for some now. I hope you enjoy using the burr elm and do let me know if you have any luck with the Osmo Polyx oil finish.
    All the best, Jonathan

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