by Jo Miller

Lyle Jamieson – Traverse City, Michigan

Our second remote demonstration was held on May 16, 2020 with Lyle Jamieson of Traverse City, Michigan. Lyle had a wonderful set-up with multiple cameras – clearly Lyle had done this before.  

This demonstration focused on completing a “winged”  bowl which is a bowl that is football shaped – this one was approximately 9.5inches long and 6 inches in diameter.  Lyle emphasized various techniques during his presentation that can be used in turning any size bowl:

1. Grain orientation:  In preparing to turn a bowl, its important to think about grain orientation – both to improve the quality of your cuts, and to choose how the grain pattern will be presented in the bowl.  With the grain going  across the bowl, you always should cut from the bottom of the bowl to the top so that the grain is supported as you are cutting  thus, minimizing tear-outs.  When Lyle cuts a limb, he cuts the limb in half and leaves the pith in the blank. The pith will be cut away as he shapes the bowl but provides additional material for orienting and shaping the bowl. 

2.  Start between centers:

When mounting your blank, Lyle suggests you start between centers rather than just marking the center or mounting on a faceplate directly.  He uses a 4-pronged center with a “proud” pin (i.e. longer than normal), and a live center that  initially holds the  blank loosely.  This gives you the opportunity to see what the wood is like – cracks, grain, particular markings, etc, so that you can choose to design the bowl to avoid or enhance a particular feature.  In addition, it makes it easier to balance the blank – since the geographical center may not be centered.  Adjust the position so that it will remain between centers without rotating.  When you have found this position, you can tighten up the center pins. 

3.  Cutting basics:

-The lathe speed should be fast with the cutting movement slow.  

-Bowl gouge- Lyle uses a 60 degree grind with a deep flute and a ¾” sweep with a straing t line on the heel to the wing.  

– Tool rest close tot he wood

-Look for grain orientation and cut so that the grain is supported as much as possible – usually from the bottom to the top of the bowl

– Four types of cuts: bevel supported cuts are the push cut and the pull cuts which remove the most wood and the scrape and sheer cuts where the bevel at 90 degrees to the wood – these are used for final smoothing cuts. 

            With the push cut, the handle of the gouge is slightly down – almost straight with the tool rest on the center line or slightly above center.  Cut slowly, with lathe speed high to produce a cleaner surface.  He uses this cut the most often.

4.  Design elements:

-Lyle used a “football” shape for this bowl.  It’s important that the top edges don’t have sharper vertical sides.  This shape reflects light evenly and is less likely to crack when drying.  (Lyle never double turns).  

– Check that the edges are parallel to the table – Lyle uses a laser light to mark just under the top (bark) edge.  If not you can still adjust the bowl before you shape the tenon.  

– Shape the bottom of the bowl – moving from bottom to top – stop cutting before you get to the bark. The pith will be at the bottom so consider where it is when designing the bowl since it will be cut away

5.  Chucking:

– Lyle prefers to use a glue block rather than a tenon because using the 40% rule, a 10 inch bowl should have a 4 inch base which is too big for a chuck.  His glue block is a sacrificial piece of wood ( the best is a dry hardwood, with a fine grain)  that has a concave surface and is mounted on a 3 inch face plate. 

-To mount the bowl on the glue block, clean up the bowl with a sheer scrape – he finishes the outside and inside after hollowing out the bowl.  He then prepares a concave surface on the bottom of the bowl and marks the center of the bowl at the tail stock end with a small notch using the tip of his gouge. He then drills a small hole at this center mark after taking the bowl off the lathe.  This hole is used to line up the glue block with the center of the bowl using a coat hanger.  Once the bowl is centered on the glue block, the edge of the bowl is marked on the glue block.  Apply a layer of thick CA glue to the edge of the bowl, spray accelerator onto the glue block and center bowl and glue block together using the coat hanger. Accelerator can be used along the edge once assembled, but normally the glue will dry in about 2 minutes.

– Mount the glue block/bowl and complete the outside of the bowl.  In this position, you will need to do a pull cut to go from foot to rim. For a pull cut, keep the handle of the gouge down to about a 45 degree angle and use the side bevel for support. For final cuts use a closed scrape for a sheer cut keeping the handle at thigh level, and perpendicular to the tool rest .  Use light back and forth cuts using a sweeping motion.

6.  Hollowing

– use a push cut going from rim to center.  Swing handle evenly keeping shavings size the same from outside to center (thin shavings – too slow; thick shavings – too fast).  Go slower as you get to the center  – It will be harder since you will be going in to the end grain. 

-Start in stages to get the wall thickness you want at approximately 1 inch at a time to allow support for your cuts and prevent vibration at the edge of the bowl. Use sharp tools and don’t go back after achieving the final thickness you want.

– Remove bark if you like – Lyle thinks the bark looks too rustic – but you may like that look.

7.  Finishing

– to remove the bowl from the glue block, tap the glue line with a chisel

– clean off the glue block using a scrapping cut and round off the edges. 

– remount the glue block and using a piece of leather and paper towel, reverse chuck the bowl using a cone that pushes into the little nub you put into the bowl to center the glue block

– take the tenon down to the desired diameter using a pull cut to make an Ogee.  Transition the shape to the highest spot on the bowl bottom. 

– Sand and round off sharp edges

– For functional pieces use an oil finish – not wax finishes/polishes since they don’t completely dry.

– Lyle uses a wipe on varnish – Waco and then shines the bowl with the Beal System

For additional information:

Lyle has a lot of Utube videos and a 4 hr/20 min DVD

You can also purchase an individual demo – from his web site.