Finishing the underneath of a large yew bowl

4 October 2012, Woodturning in practice, Would you like to leave a comment?

In this post, I’m going to focus on finishing the underside of a large bowl, which has been mounted onto the lathe with a faceplate. Turning on a faceplate is usually straight forward during the rough turning process, but can present a few problems when a blank is put back on the lathe for the final stage of turning.

When using a chuck, there are no screw holes to fill in, making it easier to obtain a quality finish on the base of a bowl. However, when turning larger, more delicate pieces, a chuck doesn’t always have enough gripping power to hold them securely. In these situations, a faceplate must be used. I’m about to turn some very large natural edge yew bowls, which I reckon are too big for my chuck.

The photo below shows a bowl on the lathe, which has been fastened using a faceplate. This one is nearly finished and ready for the underside to be cleaned up. As you can see, the screws point directly into the bowl. The inside most be turned to allow enough thickness in the base, so as not to hit the screws or uncover the holes they have made - I've dome this once before and will hopefully never again!


The same bowl removed from the lathe - as you can see, nuts have been inserted beneath the screw heads, to reduce their length.


Here, the faceplate has been removed and the bowl is being reverse turned to clean up the underside. The screw holes are quite visible at this stage.


The screw holes have now been drilled to accept six yew plugs.


The plugs have been fitted and the base has been sanded. Although they are still visible, their symmetry makes them a feature – contrasting coloured timbers could be used to highlight this effect.


The turning process is now complete and the bowl has been removed from the lathe to be hand finished. The next stage is to remove the central spigot with a chisel and then sand off all marks for a nice smooth finish.


Sanded, cleaned and ready for oiling. I will have some images of the finished piece on my gallery pages by early next week...


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 Bob Anthony
    Bob Anthony30 April 2013 14:00

    Very Impressive, can you give me some information as to where i might find a large bowl Lathe, the i do not have to sell my first child for. Been looking all over. can you suggest a company
    Kind regards
    Bob Anthony

  2. Gravatar of jonathan leech
    jonathan leech1 May 2013 07:51

    Hi Bob,
    You may be best off trying to source something second hand. There's a great website I've used in the past In the meantime, I'll keep an eye out for you. An old cast iron machine from the 50's can easily be upgraded with a larger motor and variable speed. Are you wanting to do spindle work as well?
    Kind regards

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