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Segmented Woodturning – a Fascinating Woodturning Process

Bowl of walnut maple bandsaw technique - Segmented woodturning.

Segmented Woodturning

A few years back while reading a book on wood turning  a style of segmented woodturning caught my eye. Fascinated by the pattern, I was equally if not more intrigued by the technique used to create bowls like the one pictured above. So, I read on and began studying the process which struck me as actually quite creative.

Believe it or not, this segmented woodworking technique starts out with a flat board (planed & parallel) comprised of laminated strips of maple and walnut. The next step requires some layout work and drawing of concentric circles on the board followed by a trip to the band saw. Then the table of the band saw is tilted (in this case…45 degrees) and the layout circles are then carefully cut.

Here’s where is gets interesting. When the cutting of the circles is completed they are now ready to be stacked. There’s an order to the process. Small circles on the bottom followed by the progression of larger circles on top. Of course, these segmented rings need to be glued and aligned as they are stacked. As a result, they take on the shape of the bowl that you see in the segmented woodturning pictured above. From here it’s just a matter of heading to the wood lathe and turning the bowls. Then it’s on to sanding and finishing the segmented woodturning.

Watch Woodturning Videos:

Let’s Turn Salt and Pepper Mills – How to Woodturn

Segmented Wood Turning – Fruit Bowl…part 1

Segmented Woodturning – Fruit Bowl – part 2


The Apprentice and The Journeyman University

Segmented Woodturning – Salad Bowl set of maple & walnut…part 2

Segmented Woodturning - Sanding flat one side

Segmented Woodturning

On the following day after the glue has set,  the band clamps are removed. It is time to begin truing up the ring of segments of our segmented woodturning. In order to attain flatness on one of the ring’s edge we’ll lay a segment of the ring flat on the bed of the disc sander. It’s important to maintain a 90 degree angle during this operation. We’ll take the time and to make sure of accuracy. When the edge is truly flat we can then proceed to the wood lathe.

The straightedge of a combination square tests for flatness - Segmented Woodturning

Now the ring is mounted on the wood lathe and the opposite edge is being turned so that it is flat and parallel. The straightedge of a combination square is placed against the edge and indicates that there are no gaps. This is a good sign.
Measuring the mortise with a dial caliper - Segmented WoodturningThe depth of the mortise is being checked to allow for the base to be let in. The dial caliper is indicating 1/4″ . The base is 3/4″ maple. The depth of this mortise is fine to allow for a good glue bond.
a faceplate secures the maple base - Segmented WoodturningThe maple base of the segmented woodturning pictured to the right has been bandsawed to the diameter of the ring. Notice that screws are used to attach a waste block. Hot melt glue gun is used to adhere the maple base to the waste block.  So now it’s time to true-up the tenon of the base on the lathe.
The mortise and the tenon of the salad bowl - Segmented WoodturningHere’s how the base looks after it is trued-up and sized. The tenon matches the mortise in depth and diameter. When you have a good fit it is time for gluing the two parts of the segmented woodturning together.
Gluing and clamping the base and the ring of the salad bowl - Segmented WoodturningIt’s a simple matter of applying an adequate amount of yellow glue to the joint of the ring and base. Clamp firmly and allow the glue dry.  A good rule of thumb is to allow the glue to set-up overnight before turning the  bowl on the wood lathe.
Gluing and clamping the salad bowlsHere you can see a number of the smaller bowls as well as the tossing bowl. The process of segmented woodturning is easier and more efficient when you can find a rhythm. What do I mean by that?

Here’s it in a nutshell. I’ll cut all the segments on the miter saw at one time. I’ll perform my glue-ups all at the same time. I’ll do all of my tenons for the small bowls at the same time and then all the mortises at the same time. You get the idea. It’s a matter of making the most of your setups during the segmented woodturning process..
Small bowl mounted to the wood lathe chuck - Segmented WoodturningHere’s how the small bowl looks when it’s mounted and ready to be turned.
Salad bowl is mounted to the jumbo jaws of the wood lathe - Segmented WoodturningAnd…here is how the bowl looks after a little turning. The bottom will now be completed. (Take a second and note the hollowed out area at this time. This area allows for lathe chuck to grip the bowl for the previous operation. The outside walls of this mortise are angled out to allow for a dovetail-like grip of the chuck.)
The large salad bowl is mounted to the wood lathe chuckThe tossing bowl measures 10 1/2″ by  5″. It is turned to shape, sanded, and burnished with sawdust.
The salad bowl set is prepared for a food safe wood finishThe entire set of bowls are now completed except for the wood finish.  The next step is to remove all the dust from the segmented woodturning. I’ll use the air compressor for this operation. Then numerous coats of a  food-safe finish called Tried and True are applied.

Salad bowl set is completed

Watch these Woodturning Videos:

Let’s Turn Salt and Pepper Mills – How to Woodturn

Segmented Wood Turning – Fruit Bowl…part 1

Segmented Woodturning – Fruit Bowl – part 2

Segmented Woodturning – 9″ x 12″ Vase


The Apprentice and The Journeyman University

Segmented Woodturning – Salad Bowl set of maple & walnut…part 1

Cutting a maple segment on a coumpound miter saw for a segmented woodturning

Segmented Woodturning

As you can see the first maple segment is cut for this segmented woodturning project. The dimensioning of the material  has been taken care of and the 80 tooth sawblade of the compound miter saw has the necessary angle. A Wixey digital gauge is used to ensure the accuracy of the sawblades’s angle. The stop-block on the right is clamped into place to maintain a consistent width for the segment.  (Note: Use a scrap piece to test the accuracy of the segment’s angles. This is accomplished by cutting 1/2 the amount of bowl segments and taping the outside perimeter with the joints perfectly aligned. If the miter angles are correct then the two outside angles will be completely flat on a solid surface such as a table saw as is pictured below.)

Ensuring the accuracy of miter angles of a segmented woodturning

Now it is a matter of taking the time to allow for each segment to be cut. There are 12 maple segments for each small dinner salad bowl and a total of six small bowls.  While the compound miter saw set in this position we’ll make all 72 maple segments for the smaller bowls.  Just to be safe we’ll also make a few extra  segments. One large tossing bowl will  be made later as well however, the widths of the segments will be greater and will require an adjustment of the stop block.
Ripping a walnut spacer for segmented woodturningThe walnut spacer is just under an 1/8″ and it is sanded flat, smooth, and parallel. It’s now ready to be ripped. The width is determined by measuring across the maple segment’s angle. For example if the thickness of the maple segment is 3/4″ then the measurement across this angle will be somewhat greater then the 3/4″ thickness. We’ll set the tablesaw’s fence to this dimension and rip away.
Cutting the spacers for a segmented woodturningOnce the spacers for the segmented woodturning are ripped it’s time to cut them to length. It easy enough to do by hand and sometimes it’s nice to take a break from the power tools.
Preparing the wood segments for gluingMasking tape is quite useful in this operation. It’s on the opposite side of the segments pictured to the left. The tape is holding the alignment of the segments so that the walnut spacers can be sandwiched between the maple segments. So now, it’s time to add glue. We are using Titebond 2 for this segmented woodturning operation. We want to make sure we apply enough glue in the joints! It’s a one-time shot.

Masking tape and rubber bands serve as clamps for the segmented woodturning

Pictured at the right are glued segments that form two halves of a  bowl . For the moment masking tape and rubber bands apply enough force to allow for a bit of glue to set. This also gives us time to grab an adjustable metal hose clamp to secure the segmented woodturning.
Tightening the segmented woodturning with hose clampsTo the left is an example of the segments being tightened with the use of the large adjustable hose clamps. We use a socket driver on the cordless drill to take up most of the slack and then we finalize it with the hand driver. You’ll notice a few shims under the circle of segments. Sometimes an adjustment is needed to maintain uniformity in the alignment of the segments. So now it’s just a matter of tapping here and there with the hammer. (The larger tossing bowl is pictured to the left.)

Watch these Woodturning Videos:

Let’s Turn Salt and Pepper Mills – How to Woodturn

Segmented Wood Turning – Fruit Bowl…part 1

Segmented Woodturning – Fruit Bowl – part 2

Segmented Woodturning – 9″ x 12″ Vase


The Apprentice and The Journeyman University

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