Finishing the huge yew bowl

13 May 2013, Woodturning in practice, Would you like to leave a comment?

Early last year, I dedicated a couple of blog posts to chainsawing and rough turning the ‘huge yew bowl’. You may be wandering what became of this beast, but all will soon be revealed…

Over the last twelve months, I have been regularly checking this gigantic blank, which has been slowly drying in my shed. Tucked neatly away, I’ve been longing to get it back on the lathe and finished, but to be honest, the mere sight of it has made me a little scared! However, I’ve decided that today will be finishing day, so have plucked up all my courage and have eagerly sharpened my gouges.


Lifted out from the drying rack – this is going to be a stunner, when finished…


Mounted back on the lathe and ready for final turning.

Fastened to the lathe, it certainly looks impressive! I started by cleaning up the edges and then truing up the inner and outer surfaces. Due to the weight and irregular shape, it had to be turned quite slowly. The rotating edge is also ideal for removing chunks of flesh, so care had to be taken when moving my hands inside! The final wall thickness ended up at 20mm, which seemed to be just right for the size of the bowl.


Truing up the edges…



Using the Rolly Munro hollowing tool…


The bowl turned to size without too many problems – I could only just reach the base with the hollowing tool, but this was to be expected. Sanding, however, was a little harder. The spinning natural edge looked far too dangerous for my drill mounted sander, so the orbital sander was used instead. In fact, sanding whilst the bowl was stationary proved to work much better and give a superior result – something to remember for next time.


Using the orbital sander…

I finished by reverse chucking the bowl. Like all of my larger pieces, it has been mounted to a faceplate during all of the turning processes, so plugs were made to tidy up the holes.


I have to say the end result is unbelievable. This is without doubt the largest natural edge bowl i have ever made and a very dramatic piece in its own right. The last photo shows the first few brush strokes of oil - unfortunately you'll have to wait until the end of this week to see the finished piece!

Update March 2015 - The huge yew bowl has now sold and is no longer featured on my website, however I've a similar sized piece of timber drying and will be completing it soon. Do please contact me if you have any questions..


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 Lisa adams
    Lisa adams24 August 2014 16:59

    Out of interest, what became of the beautiful "Huge yew bowl" which you were working on in May 2013? i fell completely in love with it, but whilst I was plotting how to find the £650 to buy it, it disappeared from your website. Do you have any others in progress or a similar size/beauty?
    Kind regards, Lisa.

  2. Gravatar of Jonathan Leech
    Jonathan Leech24 August 2014 18:51

    Hi Lisa,
    I'm really sorry, I sold the huge yew bowl about three months ago and then removed it from my website - it was destined to be a birthday present, so I had to avoid any clues to its pricing!

    I'm going to be making a similar piece within the next two weeks. It will be a little smaller, at about 50 cm in diameter, but will have a full natural edge. I'd be more than happy to send you some photo's when completed, if you wish. I estimate the price to be about £475 - £500.

    You are welcome to call me, if you would like any further details,

    Kind regards,

  3. Gravatar of Lisa Adams
    Lisa Adams25 August 2014 10:50

    Oops, I've just well and truly given that away then! Sorry :-/ I would be interested to see the new bowl you are working on, but really it was the immense size of the original which I loved. I will keep my eyes peeled on your site in the future and won't drag my feet next time :)
    Many thanks, Lisa.

  4. Gravatar of Jonathan Leech
    Jonathan Leech8 September 2014 19:14

    Hi Lisa,

    Don't worry about giving it away - I'm sure it was mentioned in the end! If you could drop me an email at some point, I'll send you some photo's of the next big piece, when it's finished. I should have something made soon.

    Best wishes

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