How To Make A Wooden Bowl Using A Wood Lathe

A simple wooden bowl is one of the most beautiful things you can make on your wood turning lathe.  They make useful decorative additions to your home as well as thoughtful and sentimental gifts for your loved ones.

In this case it wouldn’t just be the thought that counts, it would be the effort and skill that would be appreciated and admired!

Here are some clear instructions on how to make a wooden bowl by using a wood lathe.


Before you begin, you will first need to make sure you have everything you need.  You wouldn’t want to be stuck mid-turn because you forgot a necessary item or tool.

  1. A lathe -obviously
  2. A chunk of wood -naturally
  3. A faceplate to attach the chunk of wood or
  4. A chuck to hold the chunk of wood
  5. A bowl gouge
  6. A drill to screw in the faceplate
  7. A good live center to put in the tailstock

Wood turning can be a dangerous activity so to protect yourself we would recommend the following safety equipment as a minimum.

  1. Safety glasses or face shield
  2. A dust mask

Some other items are recommended but not vital;

  1. A bandsaw or handsaw
  2. Wax or oil to finish your bowl

If you don’t have a precut chunk of wood, you will need to cut it yourself. Using your saw, you will cut it so that the grain is running through it sideways. Make sure you cut it to a size that will easily fit your lathe.  Cutting a square shape is best as it will waste the smallest amount of wood.

Next, measure out the central point of your wood and use a pencil or marker to mark the spot.  Drilling a hole for the faceplate screw avoids the wood from splitting. Now you can screw on the faceplate in the center and the faceplate can be screwed onto the lathe.

Once the faceplate is screwed onto the spindle, turn the spindle to check that your wood will not hit the bed. Use the live centre to support the work whilst it an irregular shape.


Begin to turn the wood. Gradually bring the handle toward you to lower the angle of the gouge. When it starts to cut, keep it at that angle. For all your cuts except roughing out, make sure the bevel is rubbing the wood.

When you feel like the wood is becoming more balanced and your lathe is not shaking too much you can increase the speed a little. Your cuts will get smoother and faster.

You can start developing the form of your bowl maintaining a medium speed of around 1000 RPM.  

To finish it up, switch to another gouge to ensure as little tear out as possible.

Now, use a bowl gouge to hollow out your bowl. Put the chuck on, making sure it is very tight.

Using the skew as a scraper, flatten the bottom of your bowl before taking off the faceplate.

Keeping turning your bowl until you are happy with the shape.  

Be very careful not to overdo this or you can break it!

Once you are happy with the look of your bowl you can remove it, sand it inside and out to smooth out the surfaces.  

You can now finish your bowl using your wax or oil.  

About the author

Adnan is the owner of Your Wood Lathe. Your wood lathe talks all and everything about wood turning lathes.

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