[Originally posted in this thread. - VM]
The following information on hollow forms is being presented with the beginning turner in mind. It is the simple intent of this post to expose the beginner to the various steps involved in creating a hollow form.
The normal disclaimer: I am not an instructor and have learned what I know through active participation here on Family Woodworking and the SawMill Creek forums as well as trial and error. These photos offer only a few of the many possible ways to turn hollow forms. Most importantly, my methods work for me… if something doesn’t look or ‘feel’ safe to you – DON’T do it!
List of tools:
Jet 1642 EVS 2 hp Lathe, 7 bags of concrete
Talon Chuck and various jaws
6” Faceplate, came with the lathe
Homemade Steady Rest
½” Bowl Gouge
1/8” Parting Tool
Monster Captured Hollowing System with Laser
Cheapest electric drill I could find
2” sanding disks, various grits
I start with green (wet) wood and chainsaw the blank from a log using the procedure that Bill Grumbine demonstrates in his video “Bowl Turning Made Easy”. (this is an excellent video and I still study and learn from it!)
I use the chainsaw to ‘round’ the blank as much as I can so it is easier to rough out. You don’t have to cut the corners off the blank first but it makes everything faster and a lot easier on your body.
Roughing out the Hollow Form
Step 1: Here I have a large blank on the lathe. The blank is mounted using a 6” faceplate and some good steel sheet metal screws. The tailstock is brought up to support the blank. The first step is to shape what is going to be the bottom portion of the hollow form and also to form the tenon. I’ll showcase the tenon in another photo later. At this step I usually run my lathe around 200 to 400 rpm depending on how out of balance the blank is. The general idea is SLOW speed until you get the blank rounded. Also, when shaping the form the only tool I use is a ½” bowl gouge. It’s not the only way to shape the form, it’s just the tool I prefer.
Step 2: Once step 1 is completed, remove the faceplate, reverse the blank and mount it in the chuck using the tenon. Bring the tailstock up seat into the blank. Now that the blank is somewhat more balanced I increase the speed a little which helps to remove stock faster and also gives a smoother cut.
Step 3: This is where you form the face (top) of the hollow form. Figure out approximately how large the opening is going to be and adjust your design so that the face and opening flow together with a continuous curve.
Step 4a: The outside of the form is now complete and I setup for hollowing. I remove the tailstock and install the steady rest. As you can see, it is a very simple design made out of scraps but it works very well! The wheels run on the largest diameter of the form and support it while hollowing. 4b shows the back side of the steady rest and another view of the way the piece is held in the chuck.
Attachment 16859 Attachment 16860