Use a Scroll Saw to Make a Wooden Bowl with Rings of Walnut, Maple and Padauk
posted on April 1, 2011 by Carole Rothman
Scroll Sawn Bowl Project Turning is only one way to make a wooden bowl in your shop, here the author displays a bowl that she made by cutting out segments on a scroll saw.

Laminated bowls are usually round, lathe-turned and made from large blanks. This rectangular bowl, with colorful stripes, is made on a scroll saw from a blank that is only 3/4" thick. The wood is cut into rings at a steep angle. When stacked and glued, the rings create the illusion that the bowl was made from a single, heavy blank. I flared the upper rim for a more fluid profile and softened the corners for ease in shaping and sanding. The technique, from start to finish, is simpler than it seems, and it provides a wonderful way to make a wide variety of attractive bowls at minimal cost.

Cutting the Rings
Finished scroll sawn bowl Rather than turned out of one piece, the finished bowl will be made by gluing up and sanding several different layers of wood rings.

Start by gluing up the strips of wood in the following order: walnut, padauk, maple, padauk and walnut. Once the glue-up is dry, sand it just until smooth and then draw a line down the center of the maple strip.

Marking center of the bowl Mark the center of the blank, after gluing up the wood pieces so you will know where the cuts will be made.

Attach the pattern with re-positionable adhesive, aligning the center of the pattern with the line on your wood. Designate one face of the blank as the “top” and label each ring as you cut it so you can reassemble the rings properly as you glue them up.

Cutting Bowl Blank Find a 35 degree angle and start making your first cut for the first ring of the bowl with a #9 saw blade.

To cut the first ring, I tilted the saw table to a 35° angle, left side down. Using a #9 saw blade, I cut along the outer line of the pattern in a clockwise direction, which means I fed the wood in a counterclockwise direction.

For the Bowl diagram and materials list, click here to download the PDF

Cutting the Rings of the Bowl
Drilling bowl blank Start drilling holes where you will make the first cuts, angling them toward the center line of the blank.

Next, I used an awl to mark the entry hole where shown on the pattern, and I drilled the hole at a 25° angle using a #54 drill bit, a 25° angle guide and a rotary tool. The hole must be drilled toward the center of the blank or the wood will not sit flat on the saw table.

Make angle guides To ease your cuts, make cutting guides for the angles that you will drill and cut, marking them so you know what angles each guide is.

To complete the first ring, I tilted the saw table to 25°, left side down, inserted the saw blade into the entry hole, and cut clockwise on the inner line. Using different cutting angles created the outward flare and reduced the ring width to 3/8"— an ideal thickness for bowls of this type.

Cut line for bowl Follow the cut line closely for the rings, as you will need to match up the angles exactly before glue up and sanding.

After cutting the ring, I removed the pattern and placed the cut ring on the blank, aligning the stripes and tops. Holding the ring in place, I traced around its inner edge on the blank to create the cutting line for the second ring.

Drill cut lines on blank Stagger the holes you are drilling out along the cut line so you don't remove too much wood from one area through this process.

I drilled the next entry hole at 28°, facing the center of the blank, on a straight section of the line I just drew, tilted the saw table to 28°, left side down, and cut out the second ring in a clockwise direction.

Cutting second ring Cutting out the second ring is very similar to the first, using a #9 blade and cutting the blank through counterclockwise.

I placed the second ring on the blank, aligning the tops, and traced the inner edge, to create the cutting line for the third ring.

Prevent scroll saw burning To smoothen out the cutting, a little tape along the cut line will help protect the piece and lubricate the blade, preventing too much burning on the cutline.

The third ring was cut at a 28° angle, the same way as the second. The remaining piece — the base — was set aside until later.

Gluing the Rings
Glue bowl rings Start gluing the rings together, matching up and gluing the inside surfaces first and making sure you get a tight bond before beginning the sanding process.

The best gluing sequence is to glue the rings first, sand their inside faces, then glue on the base. If you try to glue up everything at once, you’ll find it impossible to sand the lower ring without gouging the base.

Checking bowl glue-up Make sure your glue-up on the bowl rings is completely flat, checking for gaps and ledges with a flashlight before you finish gluing up.

It’s also important to be sure that there are no spaces between the rings, since that will result in unattractive gaps and dark lines. The easiest way to locate those spaces is to shine a light behind them, and the best way to remove them is to sand the rings with 120-grit sandpaper, attached by temporary adhesive to a perfectly flat surface, like a granite tile.

Clamping bowl with cauls The author suggest using two larger melamine boards as clamping cauls to secure the rings together during glue-up.

I used clamps and two boards to glue the rings together, making sure to keep the stripes aligned. If you’re concerned about slippage, glue up two rings first, then add the third after the first two are dry.

Sanding the Inside of the Rings
Sanding out bowl with drum sander Start the sanding process by using a 1" drum sander to smoothen out the edges of the bowl rims.

When the rings were ready, I sanded the inner surface, starting with a coarse (60-grit) paper. This rough sanding removed blade and drill marks, smoothed the ridges between the rings, and accentuated the flare on the upper rim.

Sanding bowl subassembly For a second pass, sand up the sub assembly with a sanding spindle before finishing gluing up the base to the rest of the bowl.

Once completed, I sanded progressively to a 320-grit to create a smooth inner surface. I used a detail sander and long inflatable drum for the flat surfaces, and an inflatable ball for the corners and upper edges. As a final check, I ran my fingers over the surface to feel for bumps and ridges, and worked on them until they disappeared. Now I was ready to glue on the base.

Gluing on the Base
Finish shaping base Once you've glued up the base, give one last pass with a sander, inverting the bowl so you can get a better view of the piece and prevent any oversanding.

I applied glue and clamped the rings and base for about five minutes. Then, since it’s difficult to remove dried glue at the interior joint line without gouging the base and sides, I removed the clamps. Using a toothpick and a barely moistened paper towel, I cleaned up the squeeze-out, re-clamped the bowl and let it dry.

Completing the Bowl

The creative part — final sanding the outside of the bowl — came next. I used a detail sander for leveling the flat areas and a flexible pad sander for shaping the upper and lower edges. Coarser grits were used for shaping, followed by increasingly finer grits until the outside was smooth and passed the “finger test.”

To finish, I used several coats of shellac, rubbed down well with 0000 steel wool. It’s quick and easy to apply, and it produces a bowl that is attractive, food-safe and ready to use, give as a gift or sell with pride.

posted on April 1, 2011 by Carole Rothman
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Comments

5 thoughts on “Use a Scroll Saw to Make a Wooden Bowl with Rings of Walnut, Maple and Padauk”

  • ross

    I am a shop teacher and one of my students saw your bowl and is really interested in making one to enter in the Technology Student Association. Its a competition that envolves all Career and Technology Education students and allows them to complete with their projects. If you could email me a copy of your template it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you and have a good day.

  • Kat Decker

    Yes please, could you email a copy of your template? I am enrolled in a woodshop class at the VoTech this semester and would love to start on this project. I am a senior citizen and want to try new things.
    Your bowl is beautiful

  • Dave Zuber

    How do you figure the correct angles for making bows out of thinner wood materials....i.e. 3/8"...1/2" etc.. I have been unsuccessful at making a cracker bowl out of 3/8" walnut.

    thank you

  • Tracy Fisher

    I have enjoyed making many of the bowls in the ScrollSaw Bowl Pattern, But recently, I am having a very hard time with the angles. The outside edge of the second ring is larger then the bottom edge of the first or top ring. What am I doing wrong?

  • jay bowen

    I always enjoy watching you on you tube, it is so good to see such a lady doing all this wood work.I am a retired minister
    and find woodworking so restful. I have learned much from
    you, thank you . could you email me the template for the bowl?
    Thank you Carole
    Jay

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