Woodworking Workshop
How To Turn a Bowl With a Table Saw

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Lathes are an interesting piece of “maker gear,” but the typical garage would seem more likely to have a table saw than a lathe available. If for some reason you need to make a wooden bowl and only have a saw around, Izzy Swan now has a solution with his custom jig.

In his setup, the outside of the bowl is rotated using a hand drill. The jig pivots while the work piece is turning, allowing the saw blade to impart a smooth finish on the outside. The video below is, impressively, Izzy’s first attempt, so things should get even better with practice.

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The inside, as seen around 5:00, is cut out using the same fixture in a simpler setup. The bowl is turned with no pivoting, while the blade is slowly worked into the concave portion of the bowl. As with the outside, the results look quite good, although with some more experimentation, something even better could probably be produced.

As useful as they are, I really try to avoid table saws, as they seem to be one of the most dangerous tools in the shop. As Swan says in the video, “Don’t mess around with stuff like this unless you really, really know your equipment.” Since lathes can also be quite dangerous as well, that’s seems like good advice since you’re combining the two!

2 thoughts on “How To Turn a Bowl With a Table Saw

  1. I view the shaper as more dangerous tool than the table saw. I knew a pro carpenter who called it “Red Cloud.”

    I have also heard pros say that if you are working at the shaper, and someone comes in and starts shooting, you finish the cut before ducking and running away, because the shaper is more dangerous than the gunman.

    In any case, the most dangerous tool is the one you are using right now…

  2. If I still had a tablesaw, you couldn’t pay me enough money to run this jig on it.

    There are so many inherently dangerous things going on here. For starters, this jig exerts sideways pressure on the arbor and saw blade (in a way that neither was designed for) so… count on something eventually failing, possibly catastrophically.

    1. It hasn’t yet and he’s been doing this for quite awhile. However the same can be said for just about anyone who works with power tools.

      1. not really true. using power tools can be dangerous, but using a tool for a completely unintended purpose, one in which it was never designed for is another ball game. And just because something hasn’t happened doesn’t automatically make it safe. You can drive for years without a seat belt on and have nothing bad happen, until that first accident.

      2. Out of all the people I know with power tool injuries or have read about receiving an injury from a power tool, I’ve never heard one of them say, “I was safely using the tool exactly as the manufacturer intended, in the right state of mind, and not distracted by anything going on around me.”

        Most accidents happen when you aren’t paying attention or when you’re using the tool in a way it wasn’t intended.

        Honestly, as long as my taxpayer dollars aren’t picking up you’re hospital bill, you can use your power tools however you want. (The general “you”, not the specific “you”, of course, Jon.) For me, it’s absolutely not worth the risk.

    2. I wouldn’t want to use it either. It’s a neat idea, but, as noted in the last paragraph, tablesaws scare me.

  3. I think what izzy swan has done is Genius, He has taken an idea and proved it can be done, His new version is great he is a great craftsman and has built some great Jigs, Well done izzy….

  4. Izzy is a GENIOUS! If you haven’t already you should really follow him on YouTube. This is one of many mind blowing jigs/tools he has produced.

  5. This is awesome. Yes its dangerous; if the torque on the saw doesn’t wear it out or the bowl doesn’t fly apart, something is bound to fail eventually. Still, the jig is really nice and I liked how looked like a time-lapse of Jupiter, with the red spot and bands, when he hollowed out the inside.

  6. MAYBE if the jig was iron and weighed 100lbs. Having had a bowl break on me while turning on a big, heavy lathe, can’t imagine how bad it’s going to be when that stock breaks apart and he has a kickback of a couple lbs of off center couple hundred RPM wood stock trying to kill him

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Jeremy is an engineer with 10 years experience at his full-time profession, and has a BSME from Clemson University. Outside of work he’s an avid maker and experimenter, building anything that comes into his mind!

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