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Get clean cuts and a nice finish from a challenging piece of material.
A live edge (or natural-edge) bowl is one of the iconic forms of modern woodturning, and it is still a great way to show off a beautiful piece of wood. It’s also a good test of your developing turning skills. Good tool control is crucial for getting a clean cut and a smooth curve, especially on the wings of the bowl, where it will be difficult or impossible to adequately sand out any major defects.
The procedure is similar regardless of the size or other aspects of the piece. A limb or log is cut down the center. The outside curve of the limb or log will become the rim of the bowl. This half-section is mounted either between centers (as in this article), or on a faceplate or screw chuck, to turn the outside and to prepare the foot for re-mounting. It is then re-mounted on a waste block (as here), faceplate or chuck to turn the inside. A final mounting either between centers (for a simple foot like the one shown here), or in some kind of jig, allows the foot to be neatly finished.
Although the basic format is simple, small variations in shape and detail can have a considerable impact on the overall appearance of the piece, so making these bowls can be a good exercise in design as well. The bowl can be almost any size; you’re limited only by the size of limbs or logs available and almost any species will work. The bark may be left on or removed, the rim may curve in or out, the piece may be deep or shallow. The bowl may have a plain or fancy foot, or no foot at all. There are many possible variations within this ostensibly limited form. Exploring them can sharpen your eye as well as your turning skills.
Power Sanding Natural Edges
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