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Bowl Size Ponderings

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kc1

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Hi all,

I'm currently looking to upgrade my bench top lathe to a floor standing one soon and the most obvious improvement when going up sizes is the swing over the bed for bowl turning with some lathes that offer outboard turning being able to turn bowls 29+ inches in diameter.

Anybody that has a lathe that offers outboard bowl turning, how often do you use it for really large bowls? and if you do what's it like trying to sell them because they're so large?

Cheers.
 

marcros

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I only have a bench top lathe, but I would potentially be interested in having outboard turning ability for platters rather than bowls, or for small bowls in the end of a long flat workpiece. just something else to consider.
 

Phil Pascoe

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Our club pro always advised against making bowls too big as they were difficult to sell, being totally impractical for the average home. The capacity is more useful for small table tops, stools, breadboards etc.
 

kc1

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I only have a bench top lathe, but I would potentially be interested in having outboard turning ability for platters rather than bowls, or for small bowls in the end of a long flat workpiece. just something else to consider.
large platters are probably what the outboard turning is used for but I'm just so curious about how well they sell, would it even be feature I'd need...
 

MARK.B.

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Big bowl blanks can be costly and folks buying the bowls rarely take into account the time and cost involved, if i do a bigger piece its usually a gift so costs are on me anyway :eek: As for selling them unless i could find a gullible millionaire or trendy outlet i doubt i could recoup my costs.
 

marcros

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large platters are probably what the outboard turning is used for but I'm just so curious about how well they sell, would it even be feature I'd need...
Yes, good point.
 

kc1

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Our club pro always advised against making bowls too big as they were difficult to sell, being totally impractical for the average home. The capacity is more useful for small table tops, stools, breadboards etc.
That definitely makes more sense, I can image them being extremely hard to sell, did they recommend what a maximum size bowl should be?
 

Phil Pascoe

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That definitely makes more sense, I can image them being extremely hard to sell, did they recommend what a maximum size bowl should be?
No, but just bear in mind the size of an average table or sideboard - don't make something so big it's out of place.
 

kc1

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Big bowl blanks can be costly and folks buying the bowls rarely take into account the time and cost involved, if i do a bigger piece its usually a gift so costs are on me anyway :eek: As for selling them unless i could find a gullible millionaire or trendy outlet i doubt i could recoup my costs.
Biggest blank I've found yet is the spalted beech on English woods at 19 inches in diameter and that is quite costly, Let us know when you find a millionaire that wants to buy all our giant bowls 🤣
 

marcros

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getting the wood is the other challenge. make friends with a local tree surgeon, and spread the word that you will collect local trees that are being cut down.
 

Wood&StuffLtd

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Hi all,

I'm currently looking to upgrade my bench top lathe to a floor standing one soon and the most obvious improvement when going up sizes is the swing over the bed for bowl turning with some lathes that offer outboard turning being able to turn bowls 29+ inches in diameter.

Anybody that has a lathe that offers outboard bowl turning, how often do you use it for really large bowls? and if you do what's it like trying to sell them because they're so large?

Cheers.
My Axminster AT406WL with its dropped extension piece will allow you to turn blanks up to 875mm or 34”. See the full description in the Axminster Tool catalogue. It will cost you over £2000 though and they very rarely come up on eBay. You do the turning at the end of the lathe rather than at the side which you do on the Record Max1 lathe. I tend to turn plates out of 16” blanks which are big enough for most dining or board room table centre pieces.
 

Bob Chapman

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When I was selling bowls I kept records of everything for the taxman. The best sellers were bowls around 10 inches diameter. Smaller bowls also sold reasonably well but bigger ones were difficult to sell. Big ones were very good, however, for catching a customer's eye, so they weren't necessarily a waste of time. The customers often bought something else.
 

Nelly111s

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Bigger pieces of timber are always going to be difficult to buy commercially, since they are more prone to splitting and harder to stock economically.
as for a lathe, I’ve a Coronet Herald and have turned a 16” x 2” olive box on it. Whilst it would physically accommodate more, there will be a point where the weight becomes an issue rather than size. I use the rotating headstock a lot at about a 30° angle for bowl turning though. Very handy.
 

MARK.B.

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Biggest blank I've found yet is the spalted beech on English woods at 19 inches in diameter and that is quite costly, Let us know when you find a millionaire that wants to buy all our giant bowls 🤣
When (if) i ever find one i will send him your way after they have bought several pieces of my expensive firewood:LOL:;)
 

jim1950

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I have a jet 1642vs with a floor stand tool rest biggest I've done up till now is 18'' with some copper inlay on the top rim, on asking around a price of £500.00
came up but I think I would lucky to get that and don't sell anyway, from other turners I talk too big is hard to sell.
But having said that have just been given some 24''x 8'' end grain slices out of a trunk and will be giving them a go
 

treeturner123

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I collect timber wherever I go so have turned a number of large bowls on my old Coronet Major. I've never had any problem selling them and, as Bob says, they also are often a starting point that leads to a purchase of something else.

You will not sell a large bowl every day, but when someone come up with £100+ it really makes your day.

Two of my largest bowls have gone to California and New Zealand. Not many tourists around at the moment, but always hoping!!

Phil
 

Paul Hannaby

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A long time ago I got some wide boards and made 18-19" bowls with them. They took forever to sell so I haven't repeated the exercise! Most people want 14" and below. I have made the occasional platter up to around 24" and those have sold better than big bowls.
 

Dalboy

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For decorative type bowls I mainly stick to about 9" as they tend to end up on a shelf and even with a stand they fit just right. Larger bowls tend to be used for fruit. I do the odd large pieces but they tend to be decorated and stood on stands as a centre piece.
 

Adam Pinson

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I just laminate scrap wood together and enjoy making huge platters, people tend to be drawn to big disks :)
 
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