Hogging Out Large Bowls

Ways to speed up the pesky process of removing large quantities of wood from the inside of a bowl before final turning. April 30, 2006

I like to turn bowls, big bowls, in the 18 to 24 inch diameter. What I don't like to do is hog out the center. I am aware of the various systems on the hobby market to take out a bowl center. They are about as much trouble as they are worth, since I don't want to use the centers. What do commercial operations that produce a large number of big salad bowls use to accomplish this job? Could a router be rigged on the tool rest to hog out a bowl blank mounted on the lathe, or am I just trying to avoid work?

Forum Responses
(Solid Wood Machining Forum)
From contributor J:
I use my CNC to shape bowls - that removes the waste on both the inside and the outside of the bowl. There is a turner in WA who uses a router mounted on an arm to shape his bowls, so it is possible to combine a router and a lathe.

From contributor K:
When I am doing larger turnings where I need to slow down the RPM's, I like to use a right-angle grinder with one of those blades that has a little chainsaw blade captured between the disks. You can remove a lot more wood faster with this than with a router.

From contributor H:
I have turned things up to 36" in diameter. You can hog it out faster with a large sharp gouge than you can with any router mounted on an arm. I think this is one of those occasions where trying to find a faster way takes longer than actually doing it. Believe it or not, a lot of those big salad bowls you see in stores (made in Indonesia, China, etc.) are done by hand. Of course, at pennies per man hour.

From contributor T:
I share your sentiments on bowl turning. A trick I learned years ago is to drill a hole with a large forstner type bit mounted in a chuck your tailstock. Relative to the amount of wood you are removing in total, you are not removing too much with drill bit, but it does get rid of that pain in the ass nib in the center. Try it - even if you are only using a 1/2" twist drill or spade bit, it gives you a good bite to start your cut with a bowl gouge. It really speeds up the process. If you're open to laminated bowls, you can glue up a blank of segmented rings, built up to form a rough bowl blank with virtually no wood to remove from the center.