Why Make or Turn Wood Bowls?

Why Turn Wood Bowls Main Image

Why turn wood bowls? When friends or family first hear about me turning wood bowls, their first response is usually, “You’re doing what?” Then they typically just stare, with a bit of an odd face and wait for me to explain.

Turning wood bowls isn’t easy to explain sometimes. The answer is really more complex than most want to hear. Typically, I’ll say something like “It’s a lot of fun, and I enjoy working with wood.”

While all of that is true, it doesn’t even scratch the surface of why I love to turn wood bowls. There are many layers and levels that make wood bowl turning a true joy and an enigma.

Let me attempt to explain.

Functionality – Turn Wood Bowls

There is the functional aspect of turning wood bowls. For centuries turning bowls and other wood turned products were needed for daily use. Unfortunately, with the advent of plastics and more durable commercial ceramics, wood turned items have almost disappeared from our daily routine.

I love history! In many ways, making wood bowls is reliving a bit of our cultural history.

Preparing a fresh salad in a wood turned bowl takes on a different level of satisfaction. The texture, feel, and even the sound of mixing greens against the curved wood grain is very pleasing. (Wow, I had no plans for lunch today. I think I’ve just talked myself into making a fantastic salad. Ha!)

The simplicity of recycling and converting a tree that was most likely headed toward demise and turning it into a functional everyday utilitarian item can’t be overlooked.

In our abundant world of material goods, we sorta take things like bowls for granted. Perhaps our primal selves, I wonder, deep down, truly appreciate the joy of making something useful from a natural resource.


It is impossible not to be filled with a sense of rewarding satisfaction when you take a chunk of wood, spin it around a bit, and then cradle a finished bowl in your hands. Magic happens when you turn wood bowls.

Creating wood turned bowls is so rewarding!

I’ve done a lot of woodwork in my life. I enjoy making furniture, projects, and cabinets, among other things.

However, I’ve never finished a bookcase or cabinet and thought to myself, “That was so fun I think I want to make another, and another!” No, usually it’s more like “I’m glad that’s done and finished.” The opposite is true about turning wood bowls.

Turning wood bowls never seems to grow old.

The length of time it takes to make a wood bowl is minimal compared to most traditional woodworking projects. And, once bowl gouge techniques are mastered, turning a bowl can be done in mere minutes.

The speed of the wood bowl turning process also allows for relatively fast advancement and mastery. If you turn a bowl and decide the design isn’t quite right, you can turn another immediately and try a different approach.

At the end of the day, several wood bowls can be turned and ready to display, give away, or even sell. Wood bowl turning provides a tremendous sense of accomplishment in a relatively short time.

Turn Wood Bowls Never Gets Old
Turning Wood Bowls Never Gets Old


We can’t always be out in nature as much as we like. It’s important, especially nowadays, to connect with nature whenever possible.

Having a beautiful wood turned bowl around brings the outside in and helps us connect with nature. The natural hues and flowing grain of a wood turned bowl seem to have a calming effect in most any environment.

Running my fingers over the grain of a wood turned bowl connects me to nature. I connect to that tree. Preserving nature in the form of a wood turned bowl makes it readily available even when we can’t go outside.

Turn Wood Bowls Connecting With Nature
Turning Wood Bowls Connects Us With Nature


Every tree has a story. I often wonder about each tree while I’m turning a bowl. How old is it? What did it witness? What might it say if it could?

I’ve been able to turn bowls from a tree that stood near my family’s driveway. It wasn’t until after turning a few bowls I made a startling realization. This tree, now these bowls, witnessed me coming and going from my childhood home. Not occasionally, but every single time!

We may not know the story of every tree we turn into bowls, but the history and lifespan of each tree was a part of many stories. Those stories all become encapsulated in every bowl turned.

Turn Wood Bowls From My Childhood Home
Honey Locust Wood Turned Bowl From My Childhood Home


Yes, trees are a natural resource. They grow all around and seem somewhat ubiquitous with most landscapes. It is easy to take that green in our sights for granted.

Wood bowl turning is an act of appreciating. As wood bowl turners, we carefully select pieces and parts of a tree to highlight and feature.

Think of that scene from The Lion King where the future lion king cub is held up in ceremony. That! That is what we do with each and every bowl turned. Hey! Look at this!

Yes, we all get busy and frequently take many things for granted. Turning a wood bowl is when we shine all the light on the fantastic trees we are blessed to have around us.

Reclaiming, salvaging, and recycling wood that would otherwise go to waste or other uses is the ultimate way to show our respect for this outstanding natural resource. Turning a bowl from a process that would otherwise go unnoticed is true appreciation.


Wood bowl turning is an art form. Well, perhaps those first few bowls were a bit less artistic, but they still are art.

Where else do we get to make or create art in today’s world? For many of us, we are disconnected from the process of creating. Creating wood turned bowls is a foundational creative artistic expression.

The trees themselves are beautiful artistic expressions, and it’s up to us to showcase that magnificent beauty through our artistic filters.

Trees Are Artistic Expressions
Turn Wood Bowls Trees Are Artistic Expressions


When done well, turned wood bowls will last a lifetime, perhaps several lifetimes. We have the opportunity to make something, a wood bowl, that will be passed down and valued for decades to come.

Wood bowl turners get to make heirlooms! Those trees, the stories, the people involved all carry on in the heart of each turned bowl.

What have you given friends and family for gifts in the last few years? What, you can’t remember? Neither can I. However, give a wood bowl that you turned and you will NEVER forget. Nor will they!

I find myself checking up on gifted wood bowls when we visit family and friends. It’s almost as if the wood bowls are friends (and family), too.

Turn Wood Bowls Ready To Travel To New Homes And Families
Wood Bowls Ready To Travel To New Homes And Families


In our age of instant gratification, how often do we come across anything handmade? Turning wood bowls is a fantastic example of a handmade art form.

As the wood bowl turner, you make the decisions and guide your hands, heart, and soul throughout the entire creation process. A part of every woodturner is in each bowl.

I believe we were given hands to do and make things. I love making bowls by hand!

The Process

Putting a new bowl blank on the lathe is thrilling and a bit suspenseful each and every time. What’s inside this piece of wood? How will the finished bowl look? How do I want to shape this piece?

Internal questions (some doubts when first starting out) lead to shavings. Shavings lead to form. Form leads to a vessel being cradled fresh from the lathe.

The process of making a wood turned bowl is so captivating and intriguing. Time stands still. On many occasions after turning a bowl, I have to check a second clock to confirm the time. Time indeed flies when you turn wood bowls.

Turn Wood Bowls From Timber to Vessel
Turn Wood Bowls From Timber to Vessel


Flowing curly shavings flying through the air and the subtle curves of an elegant bowl is the best remedy for whatever ails you. At the lathe, and turning a bowl, nothing else in the world matters.

I’ve gone to my lathe and turned bowls initially upset about something and found the process of turning washes all my troubles away.

Well, sometimes it may take a second bowl to forget everything really. Ha!

Why Turn Wood Bowls Pinterest Image Link


While everything I just shared about turning wood bowls is true, there’s still something else that drives the passion to make bowls.

The connection between the turner and a finished wood turned bowl is almost primal and definitely beyond words. We can talk and explain all we want, but there really is no way to explain this connection thoroughly.

Making wood bowls is just right… internally, spiritually, and naturally, deep-down satisfyingly RIGHT.

So if you ask me why I turn wood bowls and I say, “because its fun and I like working with wood,” that’s a cop-out.

Here’s the real answer to why I turn wood bowls:  “I turn bowls because it stirs my soul, connects me with nature, people and history and makes my life richer on countless levels.”

OK, now, who wants to join me?

Here are some articles to start your adventure:

Welcome and Happy Turning,

92 Responses

  1. I’m just starting. I have turned only six bowls so far. My first bowl was sixty years ago in Jr. High school wood shop class. I was thirteen years old. A couple years ago I bought a lathe from my wood shop school teacher. I discovered he lived across the street from my son. He was in his eighties and couldn’t use his tools anymore. I had a great conversation with him about woodworking and ended up going home with his lathe. The lathe sat in storage while I moved to my current location in Blaine. Then it took me two years to build my little shop. I’m seventy six now and just a few weeks ago started turning bowls. I started with scraps of wood. The larger pieces are gone so I started gluing smaller pieces together and turning a bowl from that. I discovered that I had too much end grain in that process. This was before I figured out I was using the tools all wrong. Now I cut about 150 small pieces into wedges to make rings out of and am the process of gluing the rings together. I’ll see how that works for me. I may go scouring for pieces from trees cut down for construction projects up here. I’m now seventy six years old on a fixed income and can’t afford to buy bowl blanks. I have caught the bug and want to just turn another bowl. I’ve been watching your videos to figure out what I might be doing wrong. Thank you for the videos.

    1. John,

      Thank you for writing and sharing! I don’t think you’re doing anything “wrong.” Instead, you are on the right path of learning. You’ve already figured out grain direction and that is a major hurdle for many.
      Keep up the good work and get out there and make another bowl! 😉
      All the best to you and Happy Turning!

  2. Hi Kent: Like I thought……You even respect that little piece of wood that you are turning in a wonderful piece of art and history, Beautiful , brought a tear to my eye. Keep up the Great work Kent.

    1. Thank you, Julian. 😉 Yes, trees deserve all our respect. All the best to you and Happy Turning! Kent

  3. Kent,
    I love this thread because it validates so many of my own reasons for loving woodworking and wood-turning. Also, as a musician, I see a parallel between these passions in my life. And at the heart of it all is a passion for learning. In both endeavors I consider myself on a never-ending quest for knowledge and skill. And the journey–not necessarily the destination–is just fine by me. The more I learn, the more fun it becomes. And thank you, Kent, for helping me along the way.

    1. John,
      Here’s to never-ending learning, good music, and beautiful turned creations!
      All the best to you and Happy Turning!

  4. Kent,
    Yes, I am with you on every point you make in your write up.

    I learned years ago that just the simple act of cutting a piece of wood on a power tool instantly makes my feel better. And of course spinning a block of wood on a lath is even better.

    From about my forth bowl on I realized as I cut the bowl I am just revealing God’s overwhelming beauty in the wood. What a privilege!

    Thank you Kent for your many videos. You are the best wood/bowl turning teacher out there.

    God bless,
    Titusville, Fl

    1. Tom,
      Thank you for writing and sharing!
      Yes, there is a magic about working with wood. It’s hard to put into words, but there is a higher connection for sure.
      Keep up the good work and enjoy every moment.
      Happy Turning!

  5. So you asked why I turn bowls and the answer is; to see what’s inside the wood! I love rough turning green wood for that very reason. To tell the truth , I have hundreds of unfinished roughed out bowls stacked in boxes just waiting for the motivation to finish them. I seldom have more than a couple pieces of raw wood waiting to be turned. It’s like opening a present versus finding a use for something inside that didn’t really excite you.
    I also prefer larger rather than smaller pieces. In fact, I quite saving the smaller blanks and give them away or use them as firewood. Oh, I love the satisfaction of giving a well finished piece to someone ( I quit selling my work about 4 years ago). When I decide to gift a piece I select the rough piece for the person and then go about trying to create something that I hope will be special to them. If I miss, well then I miss ( but I haven’t so far! At least none that I know about, with maybe one exception. )
    In the end it’s all about the creation and not the gratification. If I like and is satisfied with my end result then I’m happy. And wood turning is what it was meant to be for me!

    1. Perry,
      Thank you for writing and sharing!
      I too like the “unwrapping a package” aspect of turning green wood.
      It sounds like you thoroughly enjoy turning. I’m thrilled for you.
      All the best to you and Happy Turning!

  6. One aspect that you didn’t mention is the suspense of doing something that could either turn out fantastic or fail miserably (or breakup and come off the lathe). Creativity is very much about trying something on the edge of our abilities and the excitement and “risk” of failure. I turn a lot of cranky bits of wood and I like it because it stretches your skill and good judgement and sometimes you come out with a real gem of a bowl.
    Thanks so much for the inspiration your videos and website have given me. Duncan. Cumbria UK

    1. Duncan,
      Thank you for writing and sharing!
      Great points you make! You do have to push the edge a bit.
      All the best to you and Happy Turning!

  7. For me woodwork in general started because my wife had sleep apnea and I needed a side table that would basically fit a car battery so her machine would stay on during a power outage…
    I wouldn’t recommend furniture as a starter project in hindsight 🙂
    Now I do it for pleasure, I was running low on small projects I could do, and I bought a little lathe. I started making lidded boxes and pens, but I find larger projects more rewarding…
    After about 6 years of occasional wood turning, I got more into bowls on my little lathe, then started to get good enough to understand tooling issues vs. things I needed to learn, I basically outgrew my beginner lathe.
    Recently I bought myself a VL300 and now I’ve found the love anew! I try to do a little each day, even 10-15 minutes can be helpful.
    What I find more than anything is that it’s therapeutic, and that I love creating things. I spend most of my time on computers, so getting out, having something to really concentrate on 100% or it’ll let me know about it(!) has been great, and I’m starting to get confident enough to gift bowls sometimes too 🙂
    I have to say, the person that had probably helped me most on this journey over the last little while is you, Kent. Without your guidance, I probably would have stuck to pens a lot longer, because a lot of explanations out there either made no sense or seemed plain crazy, but yours have always been well considered and easy to understand. I really appreciate the time you take on your videos!
    Also loving your sharpening course at the moment 🙂

    1. Paul,
      Thank you for writing and sharing! Wow, I’m honored!
      I’m so happy to be a part of your wood bowl turning journey!
      And I’m glad you ventured beyond small items on the lathe!
      Thank you for letting me know and thank you for your support!!
      It’s because of you that I make all of this available!
      Keep up the great work and enjoy that therapeutic time in your shop!
      All the best to you and Happy Turning!

  8. Great article and comments. There is a lot to learn here, and I don’t have much to add except my own story about how I have come (back) to this hobby.

    Toward the end my my 7th grade in woodshop course the instructor introduced us to the lathe. I was enchanted by the process of making my first bowl from glued up cedar,which came back to me after my mom died. My hopes to return to turning were stoked when I inherited my father-in-law’s old Delta/Rockwell series 46 lathe, but it sat unused for more than 30 years in a corner of my (also little used) workshop. After I retired I took a weekend spindle turning course, set about restoring the old lathe last summer and started turning in early September. I have an awful lot to learn about bowl turning, but I’m happy to say I really enjoy the process.

    I’m exceedingly lucky to have a large farm near my home. I have been spending several hours each week helping the farmer recover pastures from encroaching tree lines and invasives plants. That project yields an endless and fascinating supply of blanks of maple, oak, black walnut, cherry and other woods. As Kent notes, it’s incredibly rewarding to discover what beauty lies beneath the surface of this natural resource. I’m looking forward to learning a lot more about turning wood bowls.

    Thanks to Kent for all the ways that he shares his enthusiasm and great skill with the rest of us.

    1. Charles,

      Thank you for writing and sharing!

      I’m so excited for you. You have a great setup and opportunity to turn whatever you want, it sounds like.

      Remember; persistent, patient practice will yield the bowls you imagine creating!

      All the best to you and Happy Turning!

    2. Great article, resonated with me on many levels. So here’s my “why”.

      I’m a relatively new wood turner…started out at a class to make pens a few years ago after my father passed along his lathe to me. He never did a lot of turning, but he was a tremendous craftsman. He passed away a couple of years ago and standing at his lathe helps me stay connected to him…he loved wood working and i know he was pleased to see the things i’ve made over the years, and he’d no doubt be proud of my turning as well.

      But it goes beyond that for me. I have a pretty high stess job and turning is such a great release…i can go down in the workshop after a tough day and just let all of that go and focus on creating something new.

      Like you said, there’s just something about a bowl that you made…hadn’t thought of the Lion King reference, but that’s exactly how i feel when i finish one. It once was a chunk of wood and now it’s something that is useful, practical, and (hopefully) beautiful. And it’s something i made that i can give to others that they can appreciate. My father made a number of things that i have (a desk, a sofa table, a clock and many others) that i have and will always cherish…being able to do the same for my kids and others is so rewarding.

      I’ve told others that turning is unlike any other wood working i’ve ever done, but i just love it. Like most anything, you only get better with continued effort and learning through practice and time. I look forward to lifelong learning and growth at a hobby i love.

  9. Your article is dead on. I have always loved woodworking and have taken it to many different levels. For one, I built my own house! After 50 years of teaching biology and coaching I decided it was time to retire. I took up the hobby of Racing Pigeons and Show Pigeons and had a lot of success. Unfortunately, I developed Pigeon Lung Disease and that ending everything. Well, it just so happened I obtained a vintage lathe years ago and decided to put it to use. Thank goodness for your videos on YouTube as they got me going in the right direction. I am now a bowl turning fool. LOL
    The science in me just wants to experiment with all kinds of wood. My family is certainly reaping the benefits of my new hobby as they are all putting in bowl orders! I am all in as I just purchase a new Grizzly GO766 lathe!

    1. Very interesting. Thank you for writing and sharing! I really enjoy birding and can only imagine the world of raising pigeons. I’m so glad you are now a bowl-turning fool. Welcome to the club. 😉 All the best to you and Happy Turning!

  10. I’m so glad I found you on line! I’m just beginning bowl turning, I’ve done a lot of carpentry (furniture to houses) but I’m just on my second bowl. I work a while, then go watch several of your videos. Unfortunately, my second bowl is giving me more trouble. A friend had a beloved carob tree in their yard in AZ that blew down. I thought I would turn a bowl for him as a memento. I air dried the 6″ diameter limb for three years. But I’m finding it is a really hard wood. Maybe my tools aren’t sharp enough. I’m 80 yo and trying to teach myself a new skill, which might be part of my problem too. Anyway, I’ll persevere. Your videos keep me inspired. Thank you! –Maxim K. Rice, Albuquerque

    1. Hello Maxim,
      Thank you for writing and sharing!
      It sounds like you are on the right path.
      Yes, sharp tools and plenty of regular re-sharpening is required for harder dry wood.
      Check out this video as well > https://youtu.be/NLC0LXJlnpw

      All the best to you and Happy Turning!

  11. Thanks Kent
    You’re an integral, nay critical, part of my learning process right now.
    My first wooden bowl started as a hand-sawn piece off the end of an old 4×2. It ended up as an almost 4″ diameter frisbee and a mutant deformed donut because I went too thin and broke through the base. That was on an inherited mid-19th century lathe (treadle, but with a jury rigged electric motor) with equally old turning tools (for spindles of course).
    I’ve recently joined a group where I have access to modern lathes and outboard turning and have now made my second bowl – simple and fairly flat but no hole in its base – and am working on a third. I’m still using my old lathe and trying to learn general turning skills by making boxes and spindle-things. I am enjoying the learning, and have no doubt there will be more bowls, many more bowls.
    I enjoy your style of engagement and teaching, and will be working my way throughyour offerings … in the hope of improving my bowl-ology.
    (New Zealand)

    1. Hello, Dougal (in New Zealand),

      Thank you for writing and sharing! Wow, a 19th-century lathe. Maybe you can return it to its treadle beginning. That would be a fun experience…at least for a little while. 😉 So glad you are enjoying yourself and learning! Keep up the good work and please remember; persistent, patient practice will yield the bowls you are imagining right now! All the best to you and Happy Turning!

      Happy Turning!

      1. Being a frustrated creative I’ve learned I can find peace by establishing skills. I have little musical talent and play harp similar to the way a blind person reads differently from a sighted person. So my art will be acquiring skill at bowl turning.
        Today I learned if you don’t tighten the hex nuts on the chuck, it will come off.
        I begin a new journey.

        1. Florence, Thank you for writing and sharing! This is a journey. Enjoy all the steps. Remember; persistent, patient practice will yield the bowls you imagine creating! You can do this! All the best to you and Happy Turning!

  12. I am hoping this course will help me get it right. I turned a laminated bowl about 3 years ago when I didn’t know what I was doing, didn’t have bowl turning tools, and had a lathe (I found out later) turned too fast. That bowl was a success.

    I recently bought proper tools for bowls, invested in the One-way sharpening system, took the sharpening course, and have watch MANY of your videos. Tonight, I utterly destroyed walnut and maple laminated blank I have been working on. I had finished the outside and it looked good. I was happy enough with it that I posted on FB and friends asked me to post pics of the finished product. I could not get the inside turned. I sharpened and re-sharpened my tools, and catch after catch kept chewing up the inside. Tonight, a catch snapped the tenon. I was able to remove it and attach a glue block, but the scenario repeated and I eventually snapped the bowl off the block.

    Too long a story, I know, but I hope the course will help. I have enjoyed turning pens, but I want to develop bowl turning skills to create more significant projects.


    1. Rick,

      Thank you for writing and sharing!

      I’m sorry you had a rough time with that bowl interior. Let me ask a few questions.

      1) What was the grain orientation of the wood? Were both pieces oriented in the same direction and was the piece a side-grain mounted blank?

      2) What tool did you use for the interior? Were you using a bowl gouge and riding the bevel?

      3) Did you work from the rim downward and leave a core in the center, removing it gradually as you completed the outer sides?

      I’ll be better able to help you with these answers.

      All the best to you and Happy Turning!

    2. Hi Kent and all,

      I’ve grown to love turning- especially bowls! I read your article Kent and agree with everything you said.

      What I might add is it increases the connection I have with people. Of course I like the skills I’m perfecting and the lovely creations coming to life. I’ve made about 80 bowls now in 10 months, they are all gone to new homes and I’ve only sold 3.

      I’ve been busy making a living as a custom cabinetmaker for so many years and I was kind of antisocial I was so busy. The relationships I have with friends and family is more important now and these “labors of love” I make for others is an extension of the Love ❤️ I feel for life and fellow travelers.

      1. Jas,

        You make a great point. I’m so glad you are able to increase your social connections through turning! Excellent! All the best to you and Happy Turning!

  13. The way that you have described the whole motion of turning has feeling , which I find heart warming that there are people out there that are like minded.
    I find myself getting concerned when trees are taken down and chipped or used in land fill, why not show some appreciation of there lives and add to their history and memory .
    Where I live Walton on the Naze, Essex, UK all of the tree surgeons I have spoken to are contracted to the local authority to chip every thing they can. In some cases I understand but if local mills were notified and asked if they could use it why not let them take it .

    1. Thanks for writing and sharing, Douglas.

      Oh, that’s sad to hear they are chipping everything. Is there a purpose? Are they trying to stop the spread of some tree disease? It would be amazing if more people and those with direct contact and authority would see trees as the real valuable resource they are instead of a waste product.

      And I agree seeing trees come down is disheartening. As a matter of fact, I’m planning to add many more trees to my yard soon. We need much more offset. I also find it refreshing to see people and estates that donate their land to become a nature preserve. More of that is needed around the world.

      All the best to you and Happy Turning!

  14. Kent, well done for your inspiring article as to why you enjoy turning bowls and specially the seed from which it has sprung. As others have mentioned, I turned my first two bowls over 40 years ago in my woodwork class at school and the idea always stayed with me. So finally I made the plunge and purchased a second hand lathe here in Portugal. It’s rather removed from my initial turning experience as I guess having a teacher to guide you, a variety of sharp tool’s and native blanks all ready to go proved rather easy. This time round is not as straightforward however I have turned out a bowl but still have a long way to go to achieve something respectable. This is where your advice and easy manner to explain things has been invaluable and for this I thank you immensely!
    I will stick with it, still acquiring the various tool’s and sharpening system including faceplate to get me on my way. Build the confidence is playing its part an all but I love the idea of making a bowl from wood that was grown on the property. Although my parents have long since passed away I ‘reclaimed’ the two bowls that I made and gave to them from my original woodwork class. A template so to speak to compare with what I will turn out now.
    Apologies about the ramble but hopefully it has conveyed the message that I have wanted to continue so many years later.

    Thanks again for the passion and enthusiasm of your articles and videos.

    Mike S

    1. Mike,

      Thank you for writing and sharing!

      Your connection with your past experience and original projects is exciting. I’m thrilled to be a part of your process back to this place of joy. Remember, patience and persistence and enjoy the whole process (all the ups and downs, they are all part of the fun) 😉

      I feel your passion for turning and I imagine you are on course to create beautiful works!

      All the best to you and Happy Turning!

  15. I have been turning wood for several years since I retired. I bought a friends big Laguna lathe. After the deal was made, he said just be prepared to open your wallet. Little did I know that all the tools I bought would cost way more than the lathe. I bought a lot of books, taken classes, joined a wood turning group, watched some videos, all helpful. BUT, nothing as good or helpful as your website and videos for clearing up a lot of missing information that I wondered about but never knew.
    I just ordered a new bowl gouge with an Ellsworth grind on it and it needs to be refined to make it cut properly as the angles are close but not at the magic 55 degree bevel. My other gouges need to be redone with new bevel angles also. I’m awaiting my new CBN wheel, 80 grit, to make the changes before I restart my bowl turning.
    I love turning wood because of what the wood does an shows after it is opened up. I love geology and wood is much like the earth and all the wonderful shapes and colors it exposes. Giving a bowl to someone is the best, as they truly appreciate it and treasure it forever. Much more rewarding than just buying something and giving it to them.
    I am anxious to watch and learn more of your wood turning videos and classes. You are the most informational person I have come across on the web. I now need to spend some time watching, learning, practicing your tips and techniques and put them to use while turning more wood. I find it intimidating to try and turn wood in front of and experienced wood turner at a class of people in a club. With your videos and great instructions, I am now able to try your techniques and put them to good use, at my pace and open up the wood for viewing, using.
    Thanks, Clark

    1. Clark,
      Thank you for writing and sharing!
      Thank you so much for the kind words. I’m so glad I’ve been able to share useful information with you.
      And yes, nobody wants to turn under the pressure of a master’s eye. That idea hadn’t occurred to me, but makes a lot of sense.
      Thanks again and all the best to you!
      Happy Turning!

  16. What a wonderfully written article Kent! You’ve helped me identify in some way the experience and what draws me to wood turning. I truly appreciate your YouTube videos and have just this week started using your e-course in sharpening. Keep educating, and following your passion.


    1. Thank you, Eric! I’m so glad this connects with you! All the best on your wood bowl turning journey! Happy Turning, Kent

  17. I love watching your YouTube channel; it has been a critical resource in helping me become a turner. I’ve been woodworking for decades, but never a turner. That is until this past Christmas when I got my first lathe. I started watching videos of various turners on YouTube as a way to decompress after a busy workday. There’s something mesmerizing and relaxing just watching the whole process. After a year or so of that, my wife made the decision that it was time to stop watching and start doing! I’m hooked!!!

    I’ve completed two bowls, both for my wife. I also have started 3 others that will be drying for awhile. The first was out of two slabs of juniper. Not a typical choice, but I had some laying around from my brother who is a carver. I approached it as a practice/junk bowl since it was my first attempt. It’s not perfect, but it’s far from junk. It is stunning and so, SO light! It feels almost like the bowl is made of foam… completely unexpected.

    Thanks for all of your knowledge that you share. It shows your true passion for this art form, and I appreciate it!

    1. Congratulations on jumping in. It sounds like you too have discovered the magic of turning wood bowls. It really is an experience unlike anything else. Thank you for your kind words. I’m so glad you too are enjoying this process. All the best and Happy Turning!

  18. Hi yes all of us agree about the wonderful world of wood and turning practice practice practice is the key learn by the mistakes …. but above all give credit to the creator Jehovah for the texture.colour.grain … for the beauty of creation….and just think His son Christ Jesus was a carpenter ..find out how they feel about us and this beautiful earth.and what they are going to do very very soon. take care and keep safe.. John. … Cardiff wales

  19. You ask us what excites us when bowl turning. Two words, “round” and “freedom”.
    Spending time out of doors one soon discovers that nature is never 90 degree or perfectly flat. Like you mentioned, building cabines, bookcases, etc. never inspired me to do more. The dimensional constraints of making something that had to “fit” in a recess, or could only be “X” feet long because that would allow room for the dishwasher or whatever.
    Working “flatwood” seems to always be dictated by having to do drawings, make correct and exact cuts with your material, something “roundwood” working does not impose.
    Have been working wood (had to make my own toys during WWII) all my life, probably what got me into engineering. Yes, discipline makes me have a basic design in my mind as the blank is chucked up. But, it is wonderful to have that second word mentioned, “freedom” to let the moment and wood take me where it will.
    Round woodworking and the freedom it gives is what gets me going.

  20. Good evening,

    I’m a 63 year old guy that has always loved working with wood. When I was 14 years old and in grade eight we used to go to industrial arts classes. We had just moved to the city from the country and I had been around building and tools all of my life.

    My teacher could sense that I was not the average kid and asked me what I wanted to build that year other than a bandsawed set of book ends like the other kids. I was taken by the lathe in the shop and asked if I could make something with that? He kind of thought about it for a bit then said, “You know thats a pretty dangerous piece of equiptment. Do you think you’re ready for it?”.

    Long story short. I ended up turning my mother a bowl out of walnut.

    After that life went off in a million different directions. And now I’m 63 and I’ve thought of that bowl almost every day of my life. Last year I picked up a lathe on a buy and sell site and its not a bad one. A good start I believe. Then I picked up a beginner set of quality tools from Lee Valley which are right here in Atlantic Canada where I live. Ive been ready to start for a year now but stuff happens and I was messing around online and typed in turn a bowl from a burl today…

    …you turned up.

    I watched that and was hooked. You have a great style of teaching and now I find myself here. Thought I would say hello and finally get at it.

    Kind regards,

    1. Thomas,

      Wow! What a fabulous story. Thank you for sharing.

      Yes, it’s time to get back to making wood bowls. We’ll look at the last few decades as a “brief break” and get back into it. Ha!

      I’m so honored you found my site and wrote.

      As you might have found, I have a ton of information waiting for you. I also just introduced my Wood Bowl Turing Start-to-Finish Online Course this week. Your timing is perfect. If you’d like to fast track your return to turning and take a refresher on all the steps needed, check this out. https://turnawoodbowl.com/wood-bowl-turning-start-to-finish-online-ecourse/

      I’m so excited for you. I know what it’s like to dream about turning bowls, but I can’t imagine waiting that long. I get a bit antsy after a week or two away from my lathe. LOL

      All the best to you and Enjoy!!!!

      1. Thank you so much for your help. There is plenty of room for more wood bowl turners!

        1. Russell,
          Thank you, YES! The whole world could become woodturners. It probably would make for a more peaceful world as well.
          All the best to you and Happy Turning!

  21. Your videos and web page are an inspiration to all of us. I really liked Stephens comment above it is right on. Most placed just want to sell and not take the time to really explain each step and why.
    Thanks again for all of the time and thought you put into this.

  22. After plodding through years of calculus in high school and college, I still felt I didnt get it. I muddled by. All it took was the right teacher in first summer session to distill the ideas down in a way my brain wanted for me to really grasp it. This is what is happening for me thanks to your instruction.

    I’ve turned different items big and small for years. I’ve muddled by. I’ve watched plenty of youtube – that’s how I found your site. I didn’t come here with high expectations, since largely what I find is that people who are supposed to be teaching or training are really just trying to make money, and not interested in actually helping at all. But here I was, still searching for a better way to grasp this “calculus”, and even now after just a short time, I already feel like several lights have (finally) started to glow. Eureka!

    I knew that solutions were out there but as you alluded to, people don’t show you the whole picture (for a variety of reasons I’m sure). Those of us that don’t know we don’t know are left in the dark, wondering why we aren’t getting satisfactory results.

    So thanks Kent. Please keep up the clear, thorough , and high-quality content while continuing to leave out the “extras” intended primarily to sell more above all else.

    Thank you also for providing this platform of communication and learning to share thoughts and perspectives with fellow members. It’s one of the best and worst features of youtube and it is great to hear the wisdom everyone has to share.

    Thanks to all of your comments, I’m inspired to make something new on the lathe after 18 months away from it.

    Thank you all.

    Southern WV

    1. Stephen,


      Thank you for so clearly articulating your experience!

      It warms my heart to know I’ve connected in a way that is inspiring you to get back in the game and turn again.

      Please let me know if there is anything specific I can help you with.

      In the meantime, I hope to keep flipping on more light switches for you! 😉

      All the best to you!

      Happy Turning,

  23. All you wrote is true. There is something primal and enduring about turning a block of wood into a useful utensil or piece of art. for me it started as a young man who wanted to hunt in Texas. I bought a rifle with a beautifully grained wood stock. I compare it today to all the composite stocks on other firearms. There is just something about the feel, look and quality of wood. The same thing happens every time I put a blank on the lathe. I wonder, as you do, what is in there. Is there a beautiful grain pattern, is there spalting that makes it stand out, what will be the result when sanded and the finish applied. Now, I have to get to the workshop because this article reminds me that i have a blank that is asking to be turned.

    1. Jerry,

      I’m just smiling.

      It’s nice to see you get it and understand the magic of wood bowl turning as I do.

      Happy Turning,

  24. I was at my wife’s class reunion. The lady’s dad turned pens and gave us all a pen. I thought what a nice gift. Found a used lathe and tools {kinda a tool horse}. Started on pens and stoppers and never looked back. Looking to upgrade with a bigger swing . I have sold a few but most are giveaways. Did a few bowls still have number one! I like to make twig vases and other vases, rings, antler things, pine cone pens, peach seed pens. We are fortunate to spend a couple of warm months in Florida escaping the SNOW AND COLD in Nebraska. We go to Panama City Beach. The senior center has a WONDERFUL wood shop! Mostly carving and turning with great volunteers to help along the way. It is mostly segmented work. My third year I was lucky enough to win a best of show bowl at the county fair! This last winter I glued together seven bowls and turned them at home after we got back. The lathe time is very difficult to get . Five lathes and sixty people. Can’t wait to go again. Have to see how the world works out at 78 years old! i am still amazed at my work. One of my motivators is this my High School Industrial Arts teacher. He told me to try to find something else to do! Keep turnin’!

    1. Jerry,

      It’s so nice to hear your story and realize how we are all drawn to woodturning in similar passionate ways. I hope you are able to get more time on the lathe soon.

      All the best to you and take care!

      Happy Turning,

  25. Kent, I love your enthusiasm and your willingness to share. I am a retired secondary school woodworking and art instructor. Turning on the lathe was always a lesson that was easy to sell to my students. They love the drama of the flying wood chips and the ribbons of shavings. I think the immediate results is a very appealing part of bowl making. as well. Personally, I do get an overwhelming sense of satisfaction from completing a rocking chair or other furniture design adventure. However, the immediate results of a turned object really feels good and is a necessary indulgence from time to time.

    1. Hello Douglas,

      Thanks for sharing. And its fun to hear how will all love to work with wood in one way or another.

      All the best to you.

      Take care,

  26. Thank you Kent for another inspiring and easily readable article.
    As always I am unable to close the lap top until I have read it all.
    My reasons for turning are quite simple. “It is relatively quick and very relaxing to get the finished product to the end” (much like your written articles)
    Every time I see a tree removal starting to take place on my morning walks around the city of Kamloops, I introduce myself and ask the owner or the tree removal person if they would be so kind as to leave 2 pieces of wood for me when the job is done. This usually starts a question and answer session, and about a month later I return to the address and either give them a bowl, a wine glass, or a centrepiece made from their tree.
    The second piece of wood is mine to either give to someone else or to sell.
    Thank you again for brightening my day with your articles and information.

    1. Hello Colin,

      Thanks for sharing your story.

      Perhaps I should adopt your two log technique. I usually ask for the whole tree. LOL Two logs are so much more manageable than entire trees. 😉

      All the best to you. Take care!

      Happy Turning,

  27. Hi, I find your explanations, thoughts, and enthusiasm helpful in my continuing to turn bowls from the trees around my area, giving back to the owners who had them cut down for one reason or another. I recently upgraded to a Harvey lathe which is a pleasure to operate. But as I finish any bowl, I wrestle with the finish on the inside trying to make sure it is food safe. Can you offer one of your blogs on what is right and wrong with the vast amount of materials on the market?

    1. Mr. Weakley you are without a shadow of a doubt a Godsend to people like myself who are brand new to the wonderful world of woodturning. I am moved by your deep desire to share your knowledge and experience with us lesser mortals. It is not my intention to bombard you with questions, suffice to say I will continue to read your articles and try to learn from them. Meanwhile, I send you and family greetings and best wishes from the gem of the Oceans the Emerald Isle.

      Freddie Kearney

      1. Freddie,

        This is perhaps the nicest comment I’ve ever received. Thank you so much!

        I’m thrilled to be able to assist you along your journey and help you enjoy making wooden bowls.

        Please, let me know if you have any questions and I’ll be glad to help.

        All the best to you in the Emerald Isle, my friend!

        Happy Turning,

  28. The act of creating a legacy piece gifted to Your children and hopefully handed down. Nice to think they will have something you created after you’re gone.

    Also do you have a piece on creating those neat feet on your honey locus bowl?
    I want to try that soon!

    1. Hello Clive,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Yes, it is nice to think about making turnings that can and will outlast us.

      I believe I will be doing a mini-instruction course of making feet on a wood bowl. Stay tuned.

      Happy Turning,

    2. Been turning pens for about 20 years . Just started turning bowls. I find it quite satisfying and the possibilities are endless. Dumped my old mini lathe and got a Jet 1221. Being just shy of 82, I hope that I can keep turning for at least 10 more years. That is a lot of bowls. Thanks for your good article!
      Dennis Weber

      1. Dennis,

        You’re welcome! Thanks for writing.

        You have a lot more bowls in you. Enjoy each one and keep up the good work!

        Happy Turning,

  29. Kent,

    I discovered your website about six months ago, and continue to marvel at the way you teach. However, I’ve been disappointed in your lack of two way communication about your obvious teaching ability. This ability demands that you touch the people you reach about a subject as personal as turning. Collectively, we are a special breed, and desire/need a mentor that cares about what they do at the level you ascribe.

    I also know it takes a lot of thought, and the decision to communicate with your pupils, is extremely time consuming, which can and will take you away from that which you so much enjoy -turning, and the first half of teaching, which is communicating how you do what you do. Now you have taken the final step, allowing us to communicate with you, and in turn, you with us. Huge decision!

    I also, spent a weekend with David E. in N.C. a while ago- while I consider him a master at what he does, I felt somewhat empty after that trip, and realized (even though he’s been teaching for years) why. He needs at this stage in his life, to only teach at s masters level. Your site has continued to reach me in a way no other person, or site has.

    I’m so happy that you have started down the time consuming road of opening up two way communication with your pupils, as I am one of them. Your talent and ability far exceeds, any i’ve come across in over three years of part time turning.

    I’m retired now, after a long career as a owner and CEO of a company that helped client colleges nationally recruit students foe over thirty years. I just turned 79 years young, and i’m ready for my next adventure, and I’m so happy to have found a “partner” that has the same inner peace many turners have while they turn, and in your case, a mentor to boot!

    Keep it up, you have finally found your niche, two way communication between you and your pupils. After thirty years of working with higher ed institutions, I know the difference between the good, the bad, and the terrible…you are at the top of my list-welcome aboard!

    I apologize for the length of my note, but I felt obligated to respond with as much excitement as yours about why are doing what you do, and knowing how much you’ll be giving up by having conversations with your students. Kent, you will be paid back a thousand fold …nothing is more important, or satisfying than mentoring students, and responding in a meaningful way to each that really desire answers, and grow because of your answers.

    I don’t know how much time I have left on earth, but I know I‘ve found a man that has a very special talent. Teacher!- I will look forward to listing, observing, communicating with you as long as you will find two way communication satisfying. Last, I know you’ll never be able to satisfy all…but those you do, will thank you from the depths of their soul.

    Bill Dougherty

    1. Bill,

      Wow! Thank you for such a well-spoken and well-thought-out comment.

      I’m thrilled that you see and share my thrill of turning and sharing this craft.

      I have toyed with the idea of teaching one-on-one but currently, I don’t have an appropriate facility.

      Perhaps I will be doing some public demonstrations at symposiums in the future. I have been invited to the 2021 Florida Symposium and I’m currently preparing my itinerary for that event.

      When I hear your enthusiasm and energy to learn and be engaged in learning woodturning I want to dive in headfirst and get going. It’s funny how our “collective special breed” also can have a general outward appearance of not being too impressed by much. Again, your energy is a breath of fresh air. Thank you.

      Also, to help share many of the ideas and techniques, I will be starting to post more videos to YouTube. I’ve been waiting to make these videos until the website has a good base of foundational articles.

      Bill, I’m glad you’re enjoying the process of turning and thank you again for all the kind words!

      I’m thrilled to be your partner along this exciting learning journey!

      Happy Turning,

  30. Hey Kent,

    I love it that you are so passionate about being close to nature and I see that you are an amazing wood turner. You have a way with words that a reader can no way stop reading until they finish it. Might not be well acquainted with how Wood turning works but I’m sure I’ll learn real soon from your site.

    1. Aakanksha,

      Thank you for your kind words. I’m glad to have had the chance to share with you.

      Enjoy! And perhaps you will be turning wood sometime soon!


  31. Hi,
    I just found this site and I am very happy about it. You seem genuinely enthusiastic about helping people get into turning and your work is beautiful, btw. I used to do this in high school waaay back but only until recently did I see an old vintage lathe for sale did I get the bug to try it again. Unfortunately the lathe I bought is not working right so I am looking for some advice as to which lathe to look for. Did I miss a section on your site which gives advice on what machine would be a good one? I wood (would, haha) like to eventually do larger bowls with it. Any suggestions?

    1. Hello Roman,

      Thank you for writing and I appreciate the compliments.

      You are correct, I have not done an article about various lathes for wood bowl turning. I do have a review for the Jet 1221vs and the Robust Sweet 16 lathes.

      You have me thinking now about how to structure such an article. What is your budget? Because, of course, that plays a large factor. And do you want to do other types of turning beside bowls?

      Thanks again, and stay tuned. I think you’ve planted the seed for a new article.

      Happy Turning,

      1. Hi Kent! Great site. I can see myself spending hours here.

        However, I am having difficulty viewing pages such as https://turnawoodbowl.com/category/basics/ on my Mac. I have tried Safari, Chrome and Firefox. I can get to articles by other paths. but the category pages just come up blank.

        1. Norm,

          Thank you for the heads up! The issue should be resolved now.

          Dig in and learn away!

          Let me know if there are any topics or issues you’d like to see covered in more detail.

          Happy Turning,

  32. Kent ,
    Im from Germany and my Englisch May be Not so Well , but i have to say thank you for this Website .
    Every free time i got the Last 3-4 days i spend reading your Articles and I’m loving it , there are so much useful informations.
    I’m in woodturning for almost a year now and I got a little lathe in my garage.
    I startet who’s spindelturning and little boxes and about 2 or 3 months ago I turned my first bowl and was exited like a toddler over the (more or less ) successful peace of wood I managed to turn , I hope you read this and
    I really like the way you write your articles go on !

    1. Daniel,

      Thank you so much for your kind words.

      It thrills me to know I can be of help to you in Germany. Yes, turning wood bowls makes me feel like a toddler too! LOL I guess that’s part of the fun of turning so many bowls.

      Stay in touch and enjoy yourself at the lathe!

      Happy turning,

  33. Kent,
    THANK YOU for creating a wonderful web site full of great information. I’ve been turning for 10 years and still learn something new on a regular basis. Your site is a great resource for all levels of turners.

    1. David,

      Thank you for the comment and the kind words. I love being able to help as many wood bowl turners as possible.

      Let me ask you, what is a particular issue that you feel you need to learn more about or understand better?

      I’m always looking to provide information that directly answers your questions.

      Thank you and Happy Turning,

  34. You described the feeling and inspiration felt by an old man that is new to turning. A reason to rise tomorrow.

    1. Thank you, Frank.

      Yes, bowl turning is a great inspiration indeed!

      Happy Turning…and rising!!!

    1. You are welcome. I hope you get started and learn the thrill of wood bowling turning!

    2. The article talks sums it all up on so many ways. I got into wood working several years ago. My regular job took so much of my time that I really only got to dabble a little bit. Now that I’ve moved on to another job, built my own house did 80 percent of the work, took time making a work shop. I’ve been able to focus on really getting into wood working. I’ve turned a few bowls with my cheap lathe and with my imagination running wild as it always has, when I’m turning I really get a euphoric feeling an it takes me to another place completely. I watched several of your videos and of many that I’ve watched from you an others by far I feel yours are really better than the others. Thank you for what you have done an keep it coming.

      1. Ilhan,

        Thank you for writing and sharing your kind words!

        It sounds as if you too may be hooked. 😉 In a good way!

        Yes, turning can truly be magical and definitely is a way to connect with your imagination!

        All the best to you and Happy Turning!

        Happy Turning!

  35. The photo of the woods and creek is my back yard so to speak.. Trying to find a field book on trees for identification – Bark – Flower – Nut – Leaf.. so I can pick and choose what I find along the creek after a storm.

    1. Well if your backyard is the Smoky Mountain National Park, where I made that photo, you have a pretty nice selection of amazing timber all around you!

      1. No not the Smokey’s… Obed Wild and Scenic River and The Great South Fork not as many tourist.. and the Catoosa Wildlife Management Area with the Obed River. Many log jams after a hard storm.

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Kent Weakley-Turn A Wood Bowl-About
Hi, I’m Kent

Hi! I’m Kent, a husband, dad, papa, graphic designer, photographer, artist, traveler, birder, dark chocolate lover and I’m addicted to turning wood bowls! Learn more about me, see the online courses I made for you, and join our group on Facebook. Ready for your wood bowl adventure? Click here to Get Started

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