Wood Bowl Repair How To Fix Damage

Wood Bowl Repair Before and After

Making a wood bowl repair and fixing a damaged area is relatively easy. Let’s take a look at a typical wood bowl repair.

How do I fix a damaged or broken wood bowl?

First, you will want to clean the cracked area, use adhesive glue(s) to bond the damaged area, sand it smooth and reapply the finish.

After The Turn

Just to be clear, the steps I’ll be sharing here are for bowls that are complete, finished, and off the lathe.

I have had customers contact me with a cautious sad tone and explain that one of their bowls fell or was dropped.

The next question is how do I fix my wood bowl? That’s what we’re going to cover in this article.

If you are turning bowls on the lathe and experience cracking wood, check out this article for handling cracks while making wood bowls.

Wood Bowl Repair Separated Crack

Getting Down To Business

The first thing that needs to be done is to sand the area around the crack.

With medium grit sandpaper, something around 120 to 180 grit, sand the areas all around and over the crack area.

If a piece of the wood has come off the bowl, sand it separately spending as much time as you do on the bowl portion.

The sanding should not take long, but this depends on the finish. Lacquer sands off relatively easy. Oil finishes that have cured for awhile also sand well.

Freshly applied oil or wax finishes can be a bit more challenging and require more sanding.

If your sandpaper becomes gummed up with finish product, replace the sandpaper and continue sanding until you reach clean, smooth bare wood.


In the example I’ll be sharing with you, the end grain has cracked, and the two portions have shifted slightly.

Just pinching the two parts together is not enough to keep them that way so we will need some assistance from a small clamp.

A small c-clamp or channel wood clamp can hold pressure and keep the two cracked sides together as we work.

Glue Prep

Before I clamp the bowl, I place a couple small pieces of waxed paper on the clamp pads.

This will prevent the glue from adhering to the clamps, something we obviously don’t want.

The wax paper will also act as a dam and prevent the glue from streaming down the side of the bowl.

Wood Bowl Repair Clamp CA Glue Apply

CA Glue Application

For this particular repair, I will be using both CA (cyanoacrylate) and yellow wood glue.

CA will quickly bond and hold the two portions together, and the wood glue will fill and add additional bonding strength as well as provide an excellent final surface appearance.

Use a very thin CA glue with a long tip applicator to apply a small amount of CA to the crack. Here’s a link for thin CA glue.

This super thin CA will run all the way down through the crack and immediately begin bonding all areas that contact each other.

After five or ten minutes, remove the clamp and pull the wax paper off the bowl.

Some waxed paper might fuse to the wood, this is ok. Just take a small piece of sandpaper and sand the waxed paper off the bowl.

Yellow Wood Glue Application

After the CA glue has been applied and the separated crack is holding together, it’s time to add the yellow wood glue.

Have a fresh piece of 120 to 180 grit sandpaper handy and ready to use. I’ll be using the same technique I’ve shared with you in this Super Quick Crack Fix article.

This step is very straightforward, just add a small amount of glue to the crack. Work the glue down into the crack with your finger or a toothpick.

If any excess glue remains around the crack, wipe it away with a clean finger, or a very slightly damp paper towel.

Take the sandpaper and vigorously sand with the grain right over the glued crack. Work quickly, this step needs to be done when the glue is moist and not tacky.

As this article explains in more detail, you are working up a fine dust, and that dust will bond and blend with the fresh glue.

When the cracked area appears smooth and free of any glue marks, you can stop sanding.

Wood bowl repair yellow glue apply sand

Wrapping Up The Crack

Repeat this process for the opposite side of the bowl wall until the crack disappears on each side.

Allow the bowl to dry overnight to let the yellow glue cure thoroughly.

If the yellow wood glue settles into the crack after the first application, repeat the yellow glue process until the crack area is level and flush with the bowl surface.

By using the two types of glue, the cracked is very secure. As a matter of fact, if in the future, the bowl were to be dropped again, the repaired crack area will probably come out untouched because of the glue reinforcement.

How To Repair Wood Bowl Damage

Crack Finishing

The only thing that remains is to apply finish to the crack area and match it as best as possible to the original finish.

If the original finish was oil or lacquer, this step will be a breeze.

Oil can be wiped over the repaired area and the remaining bowl with little fuss.

Lacquer has a chemical bonding action that allows it to slightly soften and blend with other lacquer uncoats. Because of this bonding action, lacquer can usually be reapplied and easily blended with the original coat.

If the bowl surface is polyurethane, things aren’t as straightforward. Unlike lacquer, polyurethane does not blend well. It is best to strip all of the polyurethane finish from the entire bowl and apply fresh new coats.

Wood Bowl Repair Conclusion

The moment when you drop or find a broken wooden bowl can be mortifying, but not to worry.

Fixing a broken wood bowl is not too difficult.

Take your time and give your bowl a little TLC and it will look like new again.

Please, let me know if you have any questions. Leave me a comment below. Thanks!

Need to fix a bowl or looking for care tips, read these articles:

Happy Turning,

10 Responses

  1. Hi Kent,

    I have a beautiful, large maple salad bowl that was a gift, and it fell from the top of our refrigerator to the floor, splitting it almost exactly in half. Do you think I can put the two pieces back together using the process you’ve outlined above? Any yes, my husband feels very badly about breaking the bowl, haha!

    Thanks for any info!
    Daisy Parker

    1. Hello Daisy,
      Yes, you should be able to glue it back together with wood glue. Secure the two pieces together first without letting too much glue seep out. Then after that is dry go back and use the wood glue and rapid sanding technique to make the seams flush.

      Best of luck,

    2. Kent,

      I have recently made a wooden mug for a friend that cracked. Do you know any materials to repair the crack that is hot-liquid safe?

      1. Jake,
        I don’t know for sure. I suggest asking an epoxy turner. They will know if there is an epoxy to fit your needs.
        All the best to you and Happy Turning!

  2. I wonder if this procedure is ok for wood bowls that are used for food. Are the glues food safe?

    1. Jackie,
      In general, I would say yes the glues are ok once they have dried and cured. That is the general logic applied to finishes as well.

      With that being said, I’d shy away from using a lot of CA on a food-use bowl. It’s hard to imagine a glue like CA, which is toxic and dangerous in a liquid state being completely safe when dry. At this point in time, I feel it’s a judgement call.

  3. Hello, Kent.

    Would you consider repairing a 1960s era Dansk teak wood salad bowl? It has come apart at the seams and needs to be reglued.

    I can send you photos.

    Thank you for your consideration.

    1. Hello JoEllen,

      I’m honored that you would consider me for such a repair. Unfortunately, I do not have the time to make repairs to existing bowls. Perhaps you can locate a local woodworker or cabinetmaker that would be about to repair your bowl.

      All the best to you,

      1. Correct. Some people are still not comfortable with that, however. Thank you for writing and sharing!

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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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