Advice on best way to remove the excess material from base of this bowl?

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Andy's Shed

Established Member
13 Aug 2022
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I'm new to woodturning so please keep that in mind if this is a daft question. ;)

I wanted to try and see if I could turn something that would resemble a bowl of some sort and I found a piece of Oak that was almost but not quite as big as the bowl plate (I don't know the correct name). I don't have a chuck so this was a bit of a make do situation. The screws going through the plate are 25mm long, I've used a parting tool to remove some material but I can't go any deeper without risking hitting the screws.

After I unscrew the bowl from the plate, what's the best way to remove the excess material from the bottom of the bowl please?


Hi Andy,

Hollow out your bowl and try and keep the area near the rim square or slightly undercut. Once this has been done make what is known as a jam-chuck out of some spare timber. A jam-chuck is a piece of timber that holds another piece of timbe. Pare down the jam-chuck (to make a small spigot) until it fits into the rim of your bowl tightly and the rim of the bowl butts up to the wider part of the jam-chuck.

If you make the spigot too small place some tissue over the spigot and push your bowl onto it. Once you have this tightly located and square you can shape the bottom of the bowl. Make sure you take light cuts when shaping the base and make sure your gouge is sharp or you will be chasing your bowl around the workshop.

Hope that helps
I'm glad I asked as I'd never have thought of that, what a neat solution. Now I just need to find some wood that'll fit the bill :)

I've already hollowed out the bowl (another first for me) and it's reasonably square . . . please excuse the ruddy toolmarks.

Thanks very much for your advice, I was contemplating sawing off the excess but suspected that I'd make a hash of the job.

You have perhaps done the bowl the wrong way around… one alternative is:
Put bowl on plate as you have
Turn the outside of the bowl
Leave a foot or indent to allow the bowl to be held by a chuck (owning a chuck will help with turning)
Once the outside is finished / sanded / oiled etc, you remove the plate, turn the bowl around and hold the foot in a chuck - you then turn the inside of the bowl - this means that the screw holes are in the waste removed from the inside of the bowl and don’t cause any issues…
First photo - turning the foot
Second photo - the bowl

Take the whole thing off the faceplate, screw on a piece of ply or MDF, turn a groove in the ply to suit your bowl rim.
Locate the rim of your bowl in the groove, bring up the tailstock for support then tape the bowl to the ply before carefully turning the base away. Keep the tailstock in contact whilst doing this until you are left with a tiny 'pip' which can be chiselled off before a final sand.

As akirk said, a chuck is really the way to go, and Christmas is looming
All good suggestions, remember that once you have taken it off the faceplate and started work on the base you won't be able to re-mount it to get to the inside or rim. Finish the inside, rim and some or all of the outside walls completely before you turn it round.

Have you thought about finishes? I mostly use various wax finishes these days, but early on I often used danish oil. Nothing will disguse sanding or tooling marks, but high polish wax makes them more obvious. The satin sheen of a couple of coats of danish oil is more forgiving and its easy to apply. The other advantage is that its easy to re-apply so if for instance you mark the inside of the rim with a jam chuck you can give it a quick wipe over, or if you have to hand sand dents cause by the almost finished thing leaping off the lathe and bouncing around the floor (what, me, never ......) danish oil can easily go over it and be hand buffed.

Nice flat bottom inside, angular shapes not as easy as they look.
It's funny that you should mention finishes as that's on my mind too. I watched a video yesterday on the Axminster tools channel and the chap was using sanding sealer and then some Bison wax, it seemed to give a nice finish.

I have some Danish oil, also BLO and a tin of Bison wax but no sanding sealer.

I'm encouraged by the mention of Danish oil not showing up my 'errors' :)

This is my first attempt at making a bowl and I'm planning on giving it to my wife at Christmas, I'm a bit anxious that I might balls it up with the base and have to rethink my plans 😁
It's a great first bowl, I still have my first bowl somewhere, only because my wife got to it before it went in the woodburner :rolleyes: There are so many tool marks in it I call it my corduroy phase.
It is worth learning about finishing (something I am starting to understand more...)
remember that wood is porous - so you have the options of finishes that soak into the wood (e.g. oil) / ones that sit on top of the wood but are less permanent (e.g. wax) / ones that sit on top and maybe soak in a bit and are more permanent (e.g. varnish) / ones that change the look of the wood (e.g. dyes or stains / etc. - there are lots of ways in which they can also combine... so rather than learning a formulaic approach of apply these in order, learn about the concepts and then it will make more sense - so e.g. sanding sealer, what is it for - it partly raises the grain to allow you to re-sand and get a smoother finish / it also seals the wood allowing the next coating to not just be absorbed into the wood fibres - understanding the product helps...
I'm encouraged by the mention of Danish oil not showing up my 'errors' :)

It won't hide them, but it won't emphasize them like high gloss does. What might the bowl be used for? If its for your wife to serve your nuts to guests then danish oil is good - you wipe the bowl out with a damp cloth afterwards to remove any remnants of your nuts and every so often just give it another wipe over with oil. I've not used bison wax but some waxes I have used, briwax as an example, are a bit soft- look great for display items but don't take well to handling with warm fingers. Some waxes, called microcrstalline, melt at a higher temperature so are better for thigs thyat you handle.

Chestnut products make almost all possible varieties of finish, not suggesting you buyt anything or everything but their website has a finishing school section, a few videos and 'leaflets' which explain most things really well.
Don't get drawn into thinking you need everything, or even very much! I get dust off before polishing with an old dry paintbrush, not a branded cloth.

Some danish oil is food safe, I've used vegetable oil (rapeseed UK canola US and most other countries) for the inside of the bowl sometimes but it takes longer to harden. Coat, come back next day and buff.

Akirk above makes a good point, and different woods have very different structures - beech is close grained and can almost look polished straight off the tool, ash is much more porous and needs a sealer but turns well and gives a nice not-in-your face kind of shine.

My first sanding sealer was home made, roughly 2 parts water-based quick dry acrylic varnish, 1 part water, 1 part meths - all things I had lying around. Soaks in quickly, takes 10 minutes to harden unlike the cellulose sealers I bought recenty which are just about instant, but it did work. A sealer helps with the final sanding and stops as much wax, oil or whatever yoiu are using soaking in as much so you need fewer coats. There are lots of opinions, I saw a demo where a very good production turner used friction polish, finishes in 1 or 2 coats and saves lots of time: if you are making in quantity that matters but to hobbyisist saving a few minutes per item isn't that important.

I've been turning on and off for about 3 years. My method now on most things is sand to 240, apply sealer, sand momentarily 240 again then down via 320 to 400 or 600, de-dust, then wax 2 coats for a really polished finish. BUT - this is rushing ahead and I don't think you need to do that if you have some danish oil already and if the bowl is likely to be used. I still use oils - just not for everything like I did starting out.
Phew . . . . I didn't make a hash of it. I'm chuffed to bits to be fair, thanks very much indeed for all of the helpful advice!

The Mrs has just got home so I've hidden the bowl away for now.

I didn't apply any finish whilst it was on the lathe, I thought it might have made it a little more likely to slip off?

I have 4 visible screws holes in the base, not the end of the world but I might try and fill them with a bit of sawdust and glue. I'll sleep on it and continue tomorrow.


Looks good. If you can recover and use some of the wood dust or shavings that would be best, matchsticks also handy but won't match. Looks like you can make bowls without buying a chuck if you want to.

First small bowl I made had a plug of contrasting darker wood in the bottom. Not through sophisticated design or over ambition but because the internal depth suddenly got bigger than the external depth. 🤔
For future use here's a method I used before I got a chuck to take bowls.
On a bandsaw cut the wood for the bowl and make a disc the same size out of a softwood or scrap piece about 20 mm thick. Spread glue (animal glue is best but PVA will do) on the scrap disc, on this place a disc of printer paper, press this down and spread with glue then press the bowl blank on. Clamp and leave to set. Screw everything on the faceplate so that the screws go through the scrap and maybe a couple of mm in the bowl unless you plan on a small foot for the bowl, if so make sure the screws only go in the scrap. You can then turn the bowl and the scrap piece,aiming to finish where the scrap meets the bowl. Do any finishing then remove from the faceplate and carefully prise the bowl from the scrap disc. It should pop off when the paper separates. Clean off the glue with water.
I've used this method for quite large bowls and never had one fly off but keep the tailstock centre on the blank until the outside is done.
A glue gun and a false/sacrificial bottom is an idea. A paper joint can be good as well.
Number one lesson in is to think about how you're going to finish the bottom before you start the bowl. It you mount the blank to the faceplate as usual with screws, you can finish the central part of the base and the partial curve of the outside of the bowl , this gives you a flat finished surface that you can hot melt or paper joint a pre prepared disc of scrap to then reverse the blank and finish it - any remaining sanding is easy of the lathe, no screw holes to show. You need to prepare the scrap carefully to ensure it's on centre when you reverse the blank - you should have pre bored or at at least accurately marked the screw holes for the faceplate and have a precise centre mark - you can use the tailstock to hold it in place or provide a bit of pressure for gluing in the case of a paper joint. It's easier with a chuck, but it's not impossible without one.
I can't remember whether it's covered in this, but get a copy of it anyway -
better prices available.
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Thank you gents. I'll see if I can find a video showing this method, it might have a better chance of sinking in. ;)
I have 4 visible screws holes in the base, not the end of the world but I might try and fill them with a bit of sawdust and glue. I'll sleep on it and continue tomorrow.
Do what the old time turners did & cover the base with sticky back green baize (other colours are available). Only a turner will know why it's been used.

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