Segmented wood turning is a unique craft and for some reason this 2-1/2″ x 9″ fruit bowl of cherry and walnut is one of my favorite segmented bowls turned on the wood lathe. It’s as if this segmented woodturning has claimed me and I’ve become rather fond of it. There are other bowls that I’ve turned on the wood lathe that are more complex and more challenging. However, this wood bowl has won me over. Perhaps, it’s the simplicity of the wood design and the contrast between the cherry and walnut. Maybe it is just the simple shape of the bowl that pleases. Anyway, there is just a warm feeling about this wood project with 11 staves and vertical spacers. It was a satisfying and enjoyable time designing, cutting, assembling, and turning this arts and crafts project.
“Learning never exhausts the mind.”
Leanardo da Vinci…Painter, sculptor, engineer, inventor, etc. (1452-1519)
The wood art of segmented wood turning is captivating as 90% of the work is spent in designing, dimensioning material, cutting, fitting, and gluing. Once the wood turner mounts the wood project to the lathe chuck it’s just a matter of selecting the wood turning gouges for shaping, carefully sanding, and then applying the wood finish. The entire woodturning process is fascinating yet it is critically important to get all of the joints aligning properly for a good tight fit. This requires patience and concentration. It either make it or break it time as there is no in between or margin for error at this point.
Part of the fun of this wood craft is the strategy used in mounting and turning the wood projects. There’s also the craftman’s choice of wood turning tools to use for cutting and shaping. The process of segmented wood turning is almost like playing chess where it helps to think a couple moves ahead.
Part of the beauty of handmade bowls such as this one is the joinery that you don’t see. There is a mortise and tenon joint where the base is let into the staved walls.
The cherry will deepen in color as time goes by and the fruit bowl will develop a nice, warm patina. Yet, something tells me that my appreciation of this simple wooden bowl and the time spent turning the wood project on my wood lathe will deepen as well. So, give segmented wood turning a try. It just may grow on you.
Segmented woodturning is a joy for the wood turner and turning a salad bowl set on the wood lathe can be a rewarding woodworking experience. It is also quite gratifying to enjoy one’s dinner salad and one’s fine woodworking in the evening with family and friends using the bowls you have created in the shop. While the wood lathe can be used to turn wood projects that are quite utilitarian it can also be a source for creating wonderful wood art. It just takes a bit of imagination. Join me and learn how a wood turner makes segmented bowls on a wood lathe using the creative techniques of segmented woodturning.
A person with a new idea is a crank until the idea succeeds.
…Mark Twain, 1835-1910…American author and humorist
Segmented woodturning - Stave Segements for Dinner Salad Bowl
Each bowl has 12 staved segments of mahogany and 12 vertical spacers of walnut. The staves for the segmented woodturning were cut on the ten inch compound mitre saw while the vertical spacers were ripped on the table saw and then sanded on the open drum sander. As you can see in this picture the staves and vertical spacers are being prepared for the gluing process. The masking tape secures and aligns the joints while the yellow glue is applied. The tape will also serve as a temporary hinge for each joint when the joints are closed.
Segmented wood bowls prepared for woodturning
In the picture you can see the salad bowl halves of the segmented woodturning as they are glued. Notice that the bottom joints on both halves are flat to the table surface. This is important as these joints will need to be tight fitting when the two bowl halves join together. Two walnut spacers remain as they will be fit between the two bowl halves.
Food-Safe wood finish for salad bowls
Once the wood turner is finished turning the wood bowls on the turning lathe it is simply time for any final sanding. To complete the woodturning project a food-safe finish is needed. A wipe on wood finish is applied to the wood turned bowls with a soft cotton rag. In this case Watco butcher block oil and finish is used to apply multiple coats on the bowls created by using the segmented woodturning process.
Turning on a lathe is enjoyable and you will find segmented wood turning to be a fascinating process. Once you start the wood craft of turning it may be difficult to stop!
Segmented woodturning is a woodworking craft that was introduced to me about 3 1/2 years ago. It was at this time that I came upon a woodworking magazine in a bookstore that made a positive impact on me and my woodworking. On the cover of this magazine was a unique segmented woodturning sculpture by a very talented segmented woodturner, Malcom Tibbets. Immediately, I knew that I was seeing something in the woodworking craft that I had not seen before. This was wood art that was quite extraordinary and it was easy to see that Malcolm was pushing the boundaries of woodturning. If you’d like to learn more about segmented woodturning you owe it to yourself the check out Malcolm’s great instructional book, “The Art of Segmented Wood Turning.”
“The fool who persists in his folly will become wise.”
William Blake…English Romantic Poet (1757-1827)
Now, I like challenges when it comes to woodworking because it is a good test of one’s skills. It is a challenge that allows the craftsman to broaden their abilities. A wood project that provides a challenge like this also requires inspiration and there’s always the risk of failure when learning something new. This was the time that I decided to sharpen my woodturning gouges and prepare myself to tackle segmented woodturning.
My first bowl of segmented woodturning was a fruit bowl made of beautiful black walnut, cherry, and white oak. It measures 12 1/2″ in diameter and 4-1/2″ high. As I started making this wooden bowl I realized the critical importance of getting the angles of the saw blade right for accurate compound miters. There are 12 staves for this wood bowl and the angles have to meet dead-on for the bowl to be made successfully. I created more of a challenge for myself by adding vertical spacers of white oak in between the mitered staves for this wooden bowl. Before long there would be other segmented bowls to follow.
Miter joints being cut on a compound miter saw.
Before I cut the staves for segmented woodturning, I always practiced making the angled cuts on the 10″ compound miter saw. Scrap MDF was used to see if the miter angles were now in fact accurate. This took a little time and patience to get it just right. Eventually, I got six staves to form the walls of half of a bowl. All miters matched up fine, but the two outsides angles were not quite flat when laid on the surface of the table saw. They were close, but just slightly off. However, I figured that I could sand the outside angles to have the remaining joints meet properly. (After this experience, I started using Wixey digital angle gauge and Wixey digital protractor to set the angle of saw blades when cutting compound miters.)
Segmanted woodturning…sanding the miter of a fruit Bowl.
As a wood turner I look back on this segmented woodturning project and remember this moment of learning this woodcraft. Handmade bowls are fun and creative. Moreover, the making of these segmented bowls requires total attention to detail along with a commitment to accuracy from start to finish. As I look back I know that I have gained experience from taking on this challenge of wood lathe work. Between that time and now other woodworking challenges have been created as well to add to my level of skills. However, when you look back at a breakthrough wood project you come to understand who you are as a woodworker just a little bit better. For me, growth can only happen if there is a challenge and the challenge is always easier to take on when there is inspiration.
This sequel continues our study to learn of one of the great woodworking crafts, segmented woodturning. In this woodworking video our focus shifts to learn how to woodturn the segmented fruit bowl. We will also be sanding and finishing the fruit bowl that contains 24 segments of which there are 12 staves of light walnut and 12 vertical spacers of dark walnut. Beautiful ribboned mahogany wood is used for the base.
After the yellow glue has set-up it is time to remove the masking tape and packing tape from the segmented bowl. (In a fine woodworking project like this it is imperative that all of the wood joints are tight and free of gaps.) It is now time to start turning wood. We begin by mounting the bowl and leveling the bottom of the wall section . Taking the diamond parting tool we will create an interior mortise that will accept the tenon of the mahogany base.
Next we will determine the base size.To do this we will measure the outside diameter and the mortise diameter of the bowls sidewalls. From here we will rough cut the base at the band saw allowing for a slightly larger diameter.
After the base is cut on the bandsaw we will mount the base on the wood lathe so that we can turn the tenon to fit the mortise. Again, the diamond parting tool is used to cut the tenon and a dial caliper will gauge the tenon length needed.
With the base mounted on the woodturning lathe we will take the segmented assembly and fit the mortise and tenon together. When we have a good fit we will then proceed with the glue-up of the two parts of our segmented woodturning.
After the glue-up dries and the bowl structure is complete it is time for turning wood and shaping the bowl. The segmented woodturning video reveals a spindle gouge with a fingernail grind for much of the interior and exterior wood turning. Other lathe gouges used for this sequence of wood turning include the following: A roughing gouge is used to remove the waste from the base exterior. Also, you will notice round and straight scraper gouges used on occasions as well.
After the wood turner is finished turning the fruit bowl he will then switch to sandpaper to remove any marks left by the gouge. The wood turner changes to a finer sandpaper grit as he proceeds. Typically, he will take sandpaper sheets and tear then into quarters. He will then tri-fold a quarter sheet and sand with that as the wooden bowl spins on the lathe. This fruit bowl was sanded to 220 grit sandpaper and then burnished with the wood shavings. To prepare the wood project for finishing the bowl was then wiped with a micro-fiber towel to remove any remaining dust. Our segmented woodturning is now ready for applying the protective finish.
The wood finish for the segmented fruit bowl started with an application of SealCoat and finished with three coats of satin Arm-R-Seal. This produced a nice and natural wood finish for the segmented woodturning.
Recommendations for beginning woodworkers: View the segmented woodturning video a mulitple times to get a better feel for the procedures. Pay close attention to the different lathe chucks being used at various times to hold the wood. Notice the gouges being used and how they are being used. Be patient and take your time. Always practice safety around the wood lathe. Consider taking a wood turning class to become familiar with this woodcraft.
Segmented wood turning is an interesting and unique facet of the woodworking craft as you will see in part 1 of this woodworking video tutorial. We are back in the woodworking shop creating a custom wood project. Here, we learn how to woodturn a segmented fruit bowl. The wood we are using in this segmented wood turning is light walnut for the staves, dark walnut for the vertical spacers, and ribboned mahogany for the base. The segmented wood turning technique we are using for this wood project involves the use of 12 wood staves that we will cut on the 10 inch compound miter saw and also the 12 vertical spacers we will cut with a small fine toothed dovetail saw. In this woodworking tutorial we will focus on the accurate set-up of the of the compound miter saw using a Wixey digital angle gauge and a digital protractor. Once the saw is correctly set we will cut the wood staves. From there we will concentrate on fitting and gluing all segments together by using yellow glue and masking tape.
“A rule of thumb for a warrior is that he makes his decisions so carefully that nothing that may happen as a result of them can surprise him, much less drain his power.”
Carlos Castaneda…Peruvian born American anthropologist and author. (1925-1998)
Precision cutting of the wood staves is made possible by accurately adjusting the miter saw blade with a digital angle gauge. Accuracy is a must for segmented wood turning and shop accessories such as the angle gauge and a digital protractor are essential.