No Wood Turning ….Gets Me Mad!!!

No Wood Turning ….
Gets Me Mad!!!

I don’t know about you, if you turn wood or consider yourself as a woodturner, do you …do you just want to go out and start turning bowls, tool handles, candle sticks, lamps, baseball bats or under the seat “personal protection device”? And if a day goes by and you’re not turning wood…..Do you get angry at yourself for not getting into the shop???

Woodturning Passion?

I do. That is, I get mad if I miss a day of doing some woodturning. I guess it’s my addictive, compulsive personality. When I fall in love with something, I want it all the time. Probably a bad character trait, but maybe it’s the difinition of “passion”!

I’ve become addicted to the hobby of woodturning. I guess you could say I’m addicted to turning wood. I was a little apprehensive at first, you need a lathe, lathe accessories and some turning tools and off you go. Putting everything together took some time and I purchased probably some of the cheapest stuff out there, harbor freight lathe, harbor freight woodturning gouges and a lot of DIY type tools. Not the best but my setup could turn a branch or log and I made a wood bowl!

I was addicted after that first bowl!

Somebody said, “that new woodturners are always so impatient“. That was me. I tried and tried to make my projects look like a piece of art, or just a nice looking bowl. But most didn’t turn out. I watched videos on new tools, new woodturning techniques and I practiced…. and I practiced.

I’m a better woodturner
after I’ve practiced.

But I still need more practice, I love learning new wood turning techniques. I love making your own tools. And I now really enjoy trying out real, professional or high quality wood turning tools like the new Sorby 1/2″ Bowl Gouge.

I was like a kid at Christmas, I just couldn’t wait to try that Sorby Bowl Gouge and when I as I used it, I was just as excited. I also picked up a quart of Food Safe Salad Bowl Finish by General from the new Woodcraft store in Buffalo Grove, IL …..can’t wait to try that out. I have a couple of blanks ready to finish so maybe I’ll be able to finish with my new bowl gouge and try the Salad Bowl Finish …..will keep you posted on how that goes.

general food safe salad bowl finish
Food Safe Salad Bowl Finish By General

I tell you all this because I wanted to share the fact that I really try not to let a day go by without doing some woodturning. Sometimes a week will go by because I’m to sick to go out, but …..I watch videos or read about woodturning.

And….. a whole day has gone by, it’s too late to do anything except to type a few words, to diclose the fact that I did not turn anything today and I was really “disappointed or upset” that I didn’t get to lathe today!

Another Day Gone….No Woodturning!

I actually wrote this yesterday and sadly another day has gone by without any turning due to a bad reaction to some new medicine I was taking …..sometimes, life just sucks! I literally thought I was gonna die, started shaking, hard time breathing, hallucinations, couldn’t walk ….should have woke up my wife but it was 3 am and I wrote her a note in case I didn’t make it through the night. But I did …that’s my life, hope you don’t mind me sharing the good and bad of it ….along with some good woodturning tricks, tips and thoughts!

As they say, there’s always tomorrow (sometimes) 🙂 But I was pretty scared last night so I share this word of God with you Psalm 103:15As for man, his days are like grass; As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.” The older I get the more inevitable it is that life is really short. God says our life is like the grass and flowers of the field, here for a couple of days, weeks….beautiful and healthy and then gone. So are we. Question you need to ask yourself is are you ready?

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DIY Parting Tool Make Your Own Custom Parting Tool

How To Make A Parting Tool

I needed a thin parting tool and I needed it now!

Sure, you can buy a Parting Tool for $25 to $50 but there’s noting like making your own parting tool. It gave me a lot of satisfaction once I figured how to grind the right angle on the tool tip. I actually took my design from the Sorby Parting Tool. Although Sorby has a wide selection of parting tools to meet your needs I tried to make mine look similar to this Sorby 1/16″ Parting Tool.Sorby 1/16" Parting Tool

Description of DIY
Parting Tool Project

I feel like I’m writing a term paper here but let me give you a quick description of the project. I wanted a parting tool with a 1/8″ blade. The idea is to turn an old used sawzall blade into to tool, make a handle of wood and used some epoxy and brass rod for rivets or whatever they are called in knive handles. Shape it a little on the disk sander and fine tune the cutting tip. That’s it…. BA DA Bing BA DA Boom!

Starting On Parting Tool Project

I started off with a sawzall blade, I think it was 1 1/4″ wide and 12″ long. Unfortunately I did not take a picture of it before I cut it.

I took a 4″ thin grinding wheel and cut the shape on the end of the sawzall blade and then I cut the teeth off. It cut pretty easily, I’m not a metal guy…. in fact, what I know about metal I probably learned on youtube 🙂 I remember watching someone on a video make something like mine, so its not an original idea.

Something possessed me to purchase a 12″ disk sander a while back and I have used that thing for so many tasks I can’t believe I’ve lived all these years without one. You can sand just about anything, metal, wood, figerglas and fingers 🙂

Parting Tool Blade Almost Ready

Anyway I sanded the blade to clean it up and take off any remainine paint. Coolest thing, the piece of metal looked like it was just shipped from Amazon, all nice an shiney. I was pretty proud of myself right about then.

So at this point I have the profile in the front, teeth cut off and all polished up. I need to trim up the end that goes into the sawzall ….just square it off. I have it in a vice, ready to cut off in the pic below.

DIY Parting Tool
Using a sawzall blade for a parting tool blade, shaped and in a vice ready for more cutting

DIY Parting Tool Wood Handles

Next I plan to cut and prepare the handles for attachement to the parting tool blade. I had some mulberry that had been drying for a year or so, it is very, very hard and finishes very nice. Who would have thought. But I find myself looking for a kinds of different wood types and the stuff that would end up on the burn pile …..ends up on the wood lathe or gets squared off on the band saw to be used for different projects.


So I ripped down a couple of pieces 3/8″ x 5″ to use for the parting tool handles. I wanted the handles to be wood on wood when glued together so I traced the blade on one handle and chiseled out the shape at the thickness of the blade. In other words the blade sat flush in that half of the handle. Before I forget, that a small 1/8 or 1/4″ chisel and cut some grooves into the other handle half…..the purpose is for the epoxy to have someplace to grab on the wood.


parting tool handle
Wood handles ready for epoxy

Gluing the Parting Tool Handles
and Blade Together

At this point I mixed up some 5 minute epoxy, spread the expoxy on both handle sides, placed the blade in the cut out space, put more epoxy on the top of the blade and then clamped the whole thing together. Instead of 5 minutes I let it stay clamped overnight 🙂

parting tool handle
Handle blanks, one is chiseled out to hold the sawzall blade and the other is chiseled out to hold some of the 5 minute epoxy
parting tool handle and blade
Setting sawzall blade into the 5 minute epoxy


parting tool wood handles
Clamping parting tool blade and wood handles with 5 minute eposy.

Next I needed to put a couple of rivets thru the wood and the blade. Since it is just a shop tool I could have used a 16 penny nail, but I ended up using 1/4″ brass rod. The idea is to make the pin about 1/8″ longer on each side and the “peen” the pin on both sides. This mushrooms out the pin on both sides and keeps it in place. Here’s what I did.

I took my parting tool with the handles glued to the blade with epoxy and then I drilled three holes thru the handle, 2 or which went thru the metal blade. I started with 1/8″ drill bit on a drill press and as soon as it hit the steel it started smoking and sputtering! I knew right then I screwed up.

Next time I will drill the hole thru the parting tool blade seperately and then thru the handles. I ended up breaking about 3 bits and had to use cutting oil which soaked into the wood but I did get the holes drilled 🙂

So….next I cut the 1/4″ brass rod a total of 1/4″ longer that the width of the handle. First I added some 5 minute epoxy to the hole before driving in the pin. I peened the pin on both sides until it started to mushroom over the handle. The I hit the last pin one too many times and got a small crack in the wood….just added some CA and saw dust as a crack filler to be sanded latter.

Shaping and Sanding Parting Tool Wood Handle

Since everything was square I went over to the  12″ monster disk sander and sanded both sides flush. This gets down to clean wood and it evens out the brass pins. Then I used the disk sander to round off the corners and the wood end of the parting tool. Took it over to the 1″ belt sander, cleaned up the blade a little more and fine tuned the wood edges.

Using My New Parting Tool

Being excited, I went to the wood lathe to try out the new parting tool. I was working on a handle for a gouge blade. It was about a 4″ ash tree trunk that had died from the beetles. As it was spinning I slowly entered into the wood and ………it moaned and groaned and burned!

Urgh, I was devastated! It cut like crap !!

After taking 5, I took a look at the Sorby parting tool that I was modeling I was modeling and noticed my angles were off. I reground both the top and bottom angle and tried it again. Voila! It cut like butter and ash is pretty hard.

Custom DIY Woodturning Parting Tool
Finished Parting Tool, 2 Wood Blanks for Handles, Hunk of Mullberry I cut the handle from and 1/4″ brass rod used for handle rivets

So if you try making one of these pay attention to the grind angles and pay attention to how you grind the angles. Try sharpening/grinding both angles remembering which one you did first, then try reversing the order. Then try sharpening only on side, try just touching the bottom up, and try just grinding the top angle.

Now I have mine set up so I just touch the grinding wheel on the bottom angle.

Want to see how the big boys sharpen their tools….. here’s one big boy, Sam Agelo….. I have learned a lot from him and he sharpens his thin parting tools on a belt sander ….you could also use a disk sander. He doesn’t use a grinder because he has CBN wheels on them and he was afraid the thin parting tool would ruin them….. very expensive, anyway check out his sharpening technique for parting tools.

REMEMBER always use a platform when sharpening on a grinding wheel, take your life into your own hands if you try to free hand!!

If you’re interested here’s a really good video on all the different methods of pinning that knife makers use. I might even invest in a special rivet for making knife and tool handles called a “Cutlery Rivet” they are in 2 pieces and on slides into the other and expands as it does. Pretty much a no brainer.

Looking to Upgrade My WoodTurning Tools Need Crown 251 1-Inch Oval Skew Chisel

Looking to Upgrade My WoodTurning Tools

I really want to turn some nice projects, bigger bowls mainly.

So I need some new tools and a new wood lathe!

Today I was looking for a good quality Skew Chisel, they say it’s one of the most difficult tools to master and I would like to take a shot at it because it leaves behind a beautiful finish.

Considering A Crown
251 1-Inch Oval Skew Chisel

Check out the quick video on the skew chisel for woodturning.

I was looking at the Crown 251 1-Inch Oval Skew Chisel

If you follow any of the woodturners online they will tell you that you should never buy “sets” of woodturning tools but purchase the ones you think you will need and like.

But….how do you know what you need or like if you never used any woodturning tools before?

So…..I purchased some chinese tools and I turn chinese bowls …and my nickname is “catch” because my tools don’t sharpen, or they don’t stay sharp and I can dislodge just about any piece of wood you give me from a faceplate, scroll chuck or between centers !!!

Ya, I’m kind of joking but my tools are crap …so is my lathe. So I thought I would start looking around and see what type of tools and lathe I might really want to get. Amazon has a really nice feature where you can create lists and make them “public” kind of like a wedding registry 🙂

Maybe one of my son’s or wonderful and beautiful daughter-in-law might see my public list for lathe tools and fulfill my wishes……or maybe I’ll win the lottery 🙂 Better yet, I would get healthy and spend the rest of my years working, building, drawing or building websites and making money for myself….. oh, how I pray things would end that way!

So, I figured I would check out some of the tools available online. Buy them if I could and do a review of the tool. If you buy the tool from my link, I’ll make a small commission. If not, at least you got an honest opinion.

Woodturning Gouges I Need!

I really need and would like the following:

  1.   a 5/8″ bowl gouge with fingernail grind
  2.   a 1/2″ bowl gouge with traditional grind
  3.   a nice beefy 3/8″ thick 1″ wide or better round nose scraper
  4.   a nice beefy 3/8″ thick 1″ wide or better left side scraper
  5.   a set of spindle gouges
  6.   a set of detail spindle gouges
  7.   a 1 1/4″ roughing gouge
  8.   a 1/8″ parting tool
  9.   a 1″ or 1 1/4″ oval skew
  10.  Oval Skew Chisel

As long as I’m wishing…..I’m sure I will add more to the list.

Importance of Good Quality Woodturning Tools

At this point in my woodturning experience I have come to understand the importance of good quality equipment. In woodturning, this probably means more than any other trade or hobby I’ve been involved with. For instance, you can spend 300 bucks on a fishing rod and reel but still catch some pretty good fish with a Zebco $25 dollar special.

Even in construction. Sure a Bosch demo hammer is 1500 dollars and will probably last a long time but a harbor freight demo hammer will get the job done and if you baby it, the thing will last a long time and you spent a 1/4 of the price.

Spend More Money and Be A Better Turner

But with woodturning tools and equipment, you just can’t get past the fact that spending more money will get you good tools and equipment that will make you a better turner.

I want to master the Skew Chisel so I’m looking at a Crown Skew Chisel or a Sorby Oval Skew Chisel.

However, if you’re just getting started, don’t let that fact stop you. Spend what you can afford and go from there…..heck, you might even not like woodturning. But if you do, you can start adding pieces one at a time, save your money and buy a $100 dollar bowl gouge. You’ll be amazed at the difference.

Here’s my dilema.

I need to make some money and I do that with a variety of websites where I compare and recommend products. But I’ve never do it with a site that I’ve been so passionate about, like woodturning!

I want to provide the best information I can to help anyone who reads this to make a well informed decision about what they should buy and use. To do that, I need to buy and use the products to let you know what works and what is the best.

So I will probably be buying products from places like Rockler, ebay, or Amazon. They all carry brand name, high end products. Most of these sites have some type of review system and I won’t purchase anything that has a bunch of negative reviews. So I look for the best, make an informed decesion to buy and then tell you what I think of that product. If you purchase thru my link, as I mentioned I make a very small commission…. but they will add up over time. I hope!

US Manufactured Skew Chisels

My problem is in approaching differnet products this way I leave out those manufacturer’s and suppliers that do not have affiliate programs that I can enroll in. Most of these are small stores or small manufactures but offer high end, very good products. I feel obligated to tell you about them as I discover them but since they don’t have affiliate programs, in all honesty, I probably will not purchase the products from them so I can’t give you a first hand testimonial of their products.

As time goes by, I will mention these sources and give you links to their sites. I’ve visited many times and would love to purchase some of Dave’s tools …..watched his videos on sharpening and how to use the tools …really good stuff and Dave seems like an all around good guy. He’s a small business man in the US and fighting the daily battles to build his own business. I would much rather support him than someone across the pond. There are a handfull of others out there and I will talk about them as the circustance dictates.

I really didn’t plan on getting this far into the weeds …..but I really wanted you to know where I’m coming from.

Bottom line is I want to help any woodturner find good information on how to be a better woodturner!

One more time, check out how easy this guy makes cutting with a skew, the shavings just slice off….. wish I could do that! If I had a Crown 251 1-Inch Oval Skew Chisel …. bet I could 🙂

Maybe I Should Consider
A 1-1/4″ Robert Sorby
#809H Oval Skew Chisel

I really wanted a skew chisel wider than 1″ inch. Sorby has a Oval Skew Chisel that is 1 1/4″ wide. So, after looking a little further the Sorby Skew Chisels look really nice, especially the 1-1/4″ Robert Sorby #809H Oval Skew Chisel.

I’m going to make it my goal to master the skew chisel, after watching so many turners produce glass smooth finishes, I know I can do it. Like with all woodturning … takes practice!!!

After cranking out 3 stairway spindles that really look the same, I tried to do a slicing cut with the skew chisels have….the ones from China and besides the fact that they are square edged I just couldn’t make that slicing cut in a piece of oak. Could be me, I’m finding out that the China tools will actually cut if you sharpen them correctly, maybe I need to work on the edge of the skew.

Bottom line I want to get a good oval skew chisel, whether Sorby or Crown. I’m not quite ready to purchase their super expensive super duper metal that holds an edge forever type turning tools. Although I’d really like to try one out to see what the difference is, I need to work on my sharpening skills.

Live to turn another day!!!

Build Your Own Steady Rest Or Buy A Steady Rest

Build Your Own Steady Rest
Or Buy A Steady Rest

Ok ….what the heck is a steady rest?

A steady rest is a device that attaches to your lathe bed and helps to stablize a long piece for turning or a bowl or vase.

Let’s say you have a 30 inch x 1″ broom handle you want to turn some decoration in. If you place that broom handle between centers, and you try to turn something in the center of the piece it will start to vibrate and actually bend away from your turning gouge.

steady rest for long lathe projects
a steady rest centers and stablizes a project as it turns on a wood lathe

On the other hand you might have a vase or other shape you want to hollow out and it is in your chuck but not reinforced by the tail stock on the other end. If the turning project starts to wobble and lose its center you will need a “steady rest” to keep the turning project running “true”.

As with so many other things “woodturning related” I really didn’t know when or if I would ever need a “steady rest“. As it would happen I found myself in need of a steady rest and thought I would just buy one. Holy cow…those things are expensive. If you want to buy one, Rockler has a nice one Click Here

Steady Rest From Rockler
You can always buy a steady rest from Rockler if you have some extra cash!

I Really Needed A Steady Rest

Here’s what happened.

One of my friends is a contractor who needed some stair balasters or stair  spindles duplicated.

Although I’ve turned some handles, candle stick holders and lamps ….I really never did anything long like a stair spindle, balaster or newel. So, I told him …”NO problem, I can crank out those stair balasters for you!”

Well, first I needed some oak. The base of the stair newel was, at it’s biggest 1 1/4″ X 1 1/4″ square.

Oak Ripped for Stair Spindles

I found some clear oak 2x6x4′ at Menards, the stair spindles I needed to duplicate were 33 inches, so I ripped 3 pieces that I needed on my Jet table saw that now has a rusted top because my roof leaked because the insurance company and building department are a nightmare to work with…..but that’s another story!

Next I mounted them on the wood lathe between centers and started working on the tapered rounded part. Since my chinese tool set did not come with a roughing gouge, I had to use what they called a spindle gouge….. that was a big mistake because it almost ripped the piece from the lathe.

Rounding the Square Stock
for the New Spindle

So I tried to knock the corners off and round it out with my custom carbide insert tool.

That worked pretty good, but it mostly scraped and I tried every tool I had. The spindle vibrated and bounced, there was no way I was going to turn that spindle without some additonal support.

Youtube For Learning How to Turn Wood

Next I turned to my favorite place to learn some  woodturning lessons…. youtube! After a while I thought a steady rest would solve my problems and there were plenty of tutorials on how to build a steady rest ….man, I just didn’t have the time to do that…..but I seriously considered making a steady rest!

I found a bunch of tutorials on how to make your own “steady rest” a device that provides additonal support for turned projects, whether it be a balaster, broom stick, spindle or vase. The additonal support helps you to make clean cuts and proper coves and beads as needed in your project….or in my case just to taper the spindle.

Rockler Steady REst
steady reast stabalizes a turning project, could be a vase bowl or spindle

The problem I was having was once I got in the middle of the spindle and tried to reduce the diameter, you could see the spindle being pushed out, I was actually afraid it would break or come off the live centers.

Should I build a steady rest? Really didn’t have the cash to buy one …check out these steady rest plans and watch the video


I saw it on Rockler Woodworking and Hardware

Lathe Steady Rest Downloadable Plan — $7.95

Here’s an innovative, adjustable rest for holding spindles steady. It just may give those dusty, discarded in-line skates a second shot at useful life-in the shop!

Building A Steady Rest

I don’t have time to build a steady rest right now but I think I will in the very near future! You can get a set of plans on how to build a steady rest from Rockler click on Steady Rest Plans.

And you should watch the video below from someone who I have followed for a while on youtube, his name is Stephen Ogle, click on his name for the youtube channel he has lots of good stuff. Watch Stephen’s video below, as he shows how to build a very nice “steady rest“, however I would change the wooden wheels for some roller skate wheels, I think it would be a little easier on the project you are turning, a little cheaper and a lot faster! Anyway, check out his video, he goes into great detail …if not pick up the rockler plans.


Steady Rest Or Better Tools?


I didn’t have time to build a steady rest and I wasn’t going to buy one!

I thought if I had a couple of better tools I might be able to pull this off. I did some searching online and found a new Woodcraft store in my area and took a fast trip to the new store. I purchased a 3/8 spindle gouge (blade only) and a 1/2″ bowl gouge with a fingernail grind from Sorby. I really wanted to get some other tools online but I needed to get this done now!

I’ve read that a good 1/2″ bowl gouge with a fingernail grind can be used for many things including turning spindles.

I was shocked at how good these tools cut the red oak blank. The finish was perfect and I didn’t even sharpen them yet! I really wanted to get a 5/8 bowl gouge from D-Way, Carter or Thompson but the 1/2″ Sorby will have to do, it definitely is a step up from the crappy tools I’ve been using.

3/4" Bowl Gouge "U" Shaped. 12" x .760--- With 5/8" Tang
D-way’s 3/4″ Bowl Gouge has a “U” shaped flute. An excellent gouge for roughing, and with the full radius flute it makes a great shearing cut for finishing the inside of bowls and platters.

This is a wood eater

I WANT ONE !!!!!

I’m retired (not by choice), actually on disability so my income is below poverty at this point. Otherwise I would probably have 2 or 3 of every tool I needed or thought I needed!

Make Money Turning Stair Spindles?

However, I planned on supplementing my income with some of my bowl turnings amongst other things. A little job like turning some stair spindles could bring some extra bucks but what couild I really charge for 3 spindles? If you were able to buy them from some of the big box stores they might cost anywhere from between $5 and $10 each for an oak stair balaster or spindle.

My friend’s problem was that he was unable to find the profile he needed to replace 3 stair balasters. So he needed someone to custom turn the stair spindles to match the profile he had.

It cost me $40 bucks for the oak, $32 dollars for a 3/8 spindle gouge, and $98 dollars for a 1/2″ bowl gouge. So, what do I charge him for 3 spindles….it would be nice if I could get $40+$32+$98= $170 !

That doesn’t even include my time, figure at least 2 hours a balaster, that’s 3 balasters …so a total of 6 hours at 40 bucks an hour equals $240.

So, I have $170 + $240 = $410 into a stair spindle project. Ha, ha ….what a joke. I’ll never get that and wouldn’t try…..I might as well go put them in for him too 🙂

Do you think I could get 400 bucks for 3 custom balasters? …..Ha, ha ….I’d be luck to get 100 bucks….if I do it will go toward my collection of tools and experience.

Next time I will use a steady rest and hopefully have a few more good quality tools.

It’s all a learning experience!

Take a Look At These Steady Rest Videos

Scroll Chucks and Jaws

What Are Scroll Chucks?

Learn about scroll chucks and jaws from Sam Angelo… good stuff!

This started as a test post but when I started watching Sam’s video on Scroll Chucks and Jaws for Wood lathes I thought it would be perfect to post here for anyone getting started or just trying to understand what these pieces of machinery really are.

When I got started I was really confused when it came to scroll chucks, I had to watch many, many videos and do a lot of ready before deciding which one I wanted ….I wish I would have found Sam’s video because it really clears things up. Anyway…. enjoy the video and thank you Sam!


In this tutorial Sam discuses important factors in the selection of scroll chucks and jaws. His collection of scroll chucks spans tenon sizes from 3/8″ to 5 1/2″ as well as many profiles for various projects.



I saw it on Rockler Woodworking and Hardware

Rockler – Search Results for lathe chucks


 Couple comments from
the video on Scoll Chucks


Have you ever consider of buying wood lathe chuck quick change system like those two: 1- Barracuda 5 Quick Change Jaw Chuck System with FREE Pen Blank Drilling Jaws 2- Nova Infinity Quick Change Chuck System (you can also buy only some parts to make your old Nova2 chuck/jaws to make it/hose a quick change system). I’m starting looking and I think I’d buy the Barracuda 5 because it is seems to me to be a faster quick change system and I like to have many jaws options (4 sets of jaws and a central screw are included. The only thing with this choice is, after the price issue (I am in Quebec Canada), for the sake of security and speed, I would rather like to have an hexagonal wrench for jaws tightening instead of having a key that penetrates the chuck.

Hi Sam, I want to turn very small items. Down to 8mm or possibly even smaller if I can. I want to use the central machinery 10×18″ lathe from harbor freight. Could you possibly suggest which kind of chuck I should use?
Kmsan I think what you need to look for are “pin” jaws. You could buy a number of small scroll chucks, with or without the jaws: (Body only). Pin jaws can hold very small items. You can check the dimensions in the description of the jaws. Something like this—–

Food Safe Wood Bowl Salad Bowl Finish by General for Woodturning Projects

Food Safe Wood Bowl
Salad Bowl Finish by General

If I’ve seen this addressed once, I’ve seen it commented on at least a hundred times, that is, “What is a food safe finish for wood bowls?”

I could make this article 10,000 words or more but I just want to comment on one finish I recently ran across called “Salad Bowl Finish” by General and you can get it at Rockler for the best price ….around $18 for a quart, it’s $28 on Amazon and more at other online stores. If you go to the General website there is a store locator that might help you find the product locally. Click on General Finishes  and you’ll find more specs regarding the food safe salad bowl finish.


general food safe salad bowl finishCreate a beautiful and safe finish on wooden bowls, cups, spoons, and countertops. Easy to apply – just wipe on with a soft clean rag. Achieves the sheen and resistance of a varnish. Dried film is non-toxic for food contact 72 hours after drying. Additional coats can be reapplied at any time if maintenance of item becomes necessary. Right from the label!


When I first started turning I discovered many turners talking about their work being for display only because of the finishes. I thought that was ashame, why couldn’t you use the beautiful wood bowl that you turned to display your evening’s dinner?

I purchased some butcher’s block finishes and they seemed to work out for salad bowls. But in reality I believe they were mostly mineral oil and some also contained beeswax. These finishes did not last too long but were functional and I felt safe using them with food.

If you’re making wood cups, you’ll want to find metal inserts ….wood simply won’t hold liquid very well. I even thought soup bowls would be cool, but finding a finish that won’t kill you eventually has been a challenge!

(Time out….had a couple of fishing lines out, gotta check em)

OK …I’m back.

So….why can’t I use polyurethane, shellac, CA or OB shine juice for a food safe finish?

I’m not sure you can’t!

Now this isn’t legal advice and I think that’s the whole issue with food safe finishes. It’s called cover your butt. No one wants to say use our finish for food vessels because it isn’t FDA approved.

Cap’n Eddie on
Food Safe Wood Turning Finishes

I think it was Cap’n Eddie who gave the best advice. He was commenting on “food safe finishes” and to sum it up basically he said that almost all finishes are food safe once they are cured. That is once the chemical process of the finish has completed and VOL’s are no longer being gassed off the finish is safe to use for food.

Now, I’m not telling you to use these finishes for food vessels but logically it makes sense. I would recommend that you use Salad Bowl Finish by General for all your wood salad bowls.

Cap’n Eddie said to use common sense, you’re not gonna want to use the wood bowl finished in lacquer to eat your spaghetti, think about it, your fork scrapes the bottom of the finish and you get a 1/2 teaspoon of lacquer by the time your done. Wood has its limitations!

Watch the Salad Bowl Finish being applied!

Salad Bowl Finish Comments

Here’s a few comments on Salad Bowl Finish from General

Comments from

Makes Excellent Finish
I have used this on 5 salad bowls and every one loves the finish.
I apply while the bowl is on the lathe spinning at a very low speed and leave is spinning until finish sets.
this avoids runs. I usually use 3 to 5 light coats.

I have been overjoyed with this product, not only did I refinish the cutting boards I also refinished all wood type cooking utensils.

salad bowl finish
This finish is great to use. Cures to a hard surface and food safe. Brings out the beautiful grain in the material. Great finish.

Salad bowl finish
I used this product to seal and protect an end grain cutting board I made. I love this product and recommend it to anyone making cutting boards.

Ease to use
I’ve used this and it goes on like pure Tung oil, let it soak in and it hardens. Then you can sand it to smooth urethane like finish. If you read the MSDS sheets for this and their Toy finish they have the exact same things in the exact same proportions so I’m not sure what why they are labeled differently but they should both be “safe” for mouth exposure.

I like this finish.
I like this finish I put it on most of my bowls I turn. I do light coats with soft cloth for me works the best. I lightly sand with 4×0 steel wool and most of the time I buff final coat with a buffing system to a very nice high gloss.

Great finish
I use this for all my cutting boards that I make….a go to finish.

Finesse is success!!
The product is awesome for finishing end grain butcher blocks of all varieties of wood. I tried several different salad bowl finishes this hands down the best for my uncontrolled climate in Fl. The experience with Rockler has been to say Good is soft spoken they are pro’s from on spot packing to immediate shipping –I am a customer for life and have used them for several years now –Hats off to all the employees and staff–Thank you!!!

General Finish Salad Bowl Finish
Great product! Easy to use and exceptional finish. It is all I use now for my bowls.

Great product
I use this on my salad bowl turnings, it dries fast and lasts
Salad Bowl Finish by General

Salad bowl finish
I have used this finish for at least 25 yrs. and have always been very satisfied with it. Have discovered that by using a piece of cloth to apply it, have had no problems with runs.

It looks great and came out with a very smooth finish.

Salad Bowl FinishSalad Bowl Finish from General






Good stuff
I having been using General Finishes Salad bowl finish for a couple years now. Most of my bowls are pine. I wet sand the first coat with 320 grit to cover any lingering blemishes, then fine sand prior to another two or three coats. At least 12 hours between coats, more when its cold in the shop. I get a beautiful smooth final finish with a lot of depth.

I’ve used this product for several rears with great results! I use a minimum of 3 coats, lightt sand in between on all my bowles, platters and hollow forms.

American Specialty Hardwoods rolling pin
This is a great product. I have been looking for a long time to replace polyurethane and finally found it.
Great high gloss finish.
INSERT PICS saladbowlfinish-Rockler-5.jpg saladbowlfinish-Rockler-6.jpg *******************

General Salad Bowl FinishGeneral Food safe salad bowl finish

I made some bowls out of…
I made some bowls out of maple and walnut and was amazed at how this product brought out the beautiful grain of the wood once applied. I applied according to directions: four applications six hours apart “sanding” with 0000 steel wool in between applications. Then I let it “cure” for 72 hours. I’m very pleased with the result and will use it on all of my bowls and trays that I am making.

Many, many more testimonials at **************


How would this work on carved wooden spoons that are actually intended to be used regularly for serving food? I am concerned it will wear too quickly.

I own 2 sawmills in Texas. We use even the smallest drop-offs making cutting boards ,or “cheese boards” & have found this finish to be extremely tough & durable with 2 coats once cured. Additional coats produces a slightly gloss finish. Stands up to daily rinses in hot soapy water. Hope that helps. Peppercreek Creations
By Capt DK on July 21, 2017

I use it to restore restaurant cutting boards used daily and not well cared for by staff. The finish is highly durable and an occasional re-coat maintains the luster.
By Steven W. Rust on July 21, 2017

It wears well– FDA approved I believe– also I have used it on cutting boards but no as a cutting surface a serving surface and has outstanding gloss –spoons should wear well–several coats making sure dry times– saturating deep in the grain of the wood.

By moemadebb481 on July 20, 2017
Never used on spoons but on cutting boards and after a year the finish is still good. Safe to use and should be great on anything used around food.
By Bjohns on July 20, 2017

More comments from

ByPeteon October 13, 2016
Verified Purchase
I really like the finish on my bowls after at least four coats of salad bowl finish they get a nice gloss to them you can just see the difference on them after each new layer put on. Very good finish and easy to put on

Great finish and easy to apply
ByMC NHon January 23, 2015
Verified Purchase
Great finish and easy to apply. I used multiple thin coats applied with a cloth to a large salad bowel and the results were excellent. It was best to let dry overnight before subsequent coats (also used 400 grit sanding between coats).

It is a good product for applications that come in contact with food …
Bought and used this a few times. It is a good product for applications that come in contact with food or food utensils.

Best I’ve used
Excellent product I have used this varnish many times for utensils to be used in food preparation and serving. It’s durability far exceeds any other I have used.

Easy to use and great results
BySalli & Geneon August 18, 2017
Verified Purchase
This is a great finish. There was a bit of a learning curve for me however. Not that the piece didn’t turn out ok but it required more coats than were necessary. I have learned to spend extra time with the first coat. Keep wiping it on when you see it has absorbed into the wood, primarily end grain. I just keep wiping more on until it stays wet evenly, then do a final wipe to even it out. Leave extra time for the first coat to dry, I do both sides the first time. I sand with 400 between coats and alternate sides, every 3 or 4 hours seems to work of me. If I see a spot that still soaks in I just apply more until all is wet then do a final wipe to even out just like with the first coat. Last coat gets 0000 steel wool instead of sanding. The more you put on the glossier it gets. Last coat is just a thin wipe.

INSERT PICS saladbowlfinish-1.jpg saladbowlfinish-2.jpg ***************

food safe salad bowl finish from generalgeneral food safe salad bowl finish

I am experimenting with using this as a sealer coat before using oil or wax. The second picture shows a comparison of 2 ELM bowls with 5 coats of SBQT on one ant the other with one coat SBQT/sanded with 400/and wax. The sanding removes all finish on the surface. Using Mahoney’s wax. Really like this result. I Think this is a great solution for an open grain wood where you do not want a gloss finish but also do not want just Walnut Oil and wax.

This is a very versatile and easy to apply finish that gives great results.

Home Made Wood Lathe Scoop Chuck

Home Made Wood
Lathe Scoop Chuck

I really enjoy woodturning and the longer I’m at it the more cool stuff I find out you can turn and tools you can build. In this article I’m going to show you how to make your own set of scroll wood chuck jaws that will fit any woodturning chuck.

Maybe you’ve had some questions on wood lathe chucks, sometimes called “scroll chucks” such as which one to buy or which would be the best lathe chuck for the money.

Now Using a SuperNova Scroll Chuck

I ended up getting the SuperNova 2 wood scroll chuck, it uses all the jaws that Nova makes ….I think 🙂 I only have 2 sets of jaws as I write this but I’ve discovered that some guys/girls actually build their own custom jaws for their wood lathe chuck.

Turning Wooden Scoops

A while back I remember watching a guy turn a wooden scoop. Pretty difficult when you think of it, you have the scoop part and the handle part, both on different axis’s. You could probably make it a 2 piece project, in other words you could turn the scoop and handle seperately and then figure out some way to attach the 2 pieces.

I’ll cut to the chase because I was watching Alan from the youtube channel “As The Wood Turns” and he builds a set of jaws that can attach to your wood lathe chuck and works perfectly for turning the scoop after you have turned the handle.

Video on How to Make A Home Made Scoop Chuck

Watch how to Turn Wooden Scoop with Home Made Wood Lathe Chuck

Here are some of the better comments

This scoop is actually my Vicmark vm120 body with wood jaws mounted to the body. The jaws are made from an 8″ by 8″ by 1/2″ piece of Baltic birch plywood(the good stuff). The standard jaws were used as templates to mark bolt holes. The holes were then counter sunk and stabilized with thin CA glue.

The jaws are attached with bolts a little longer than the standard bolts to allow for the additional thickness of my plywood.

On top of the plywood, I glued 2″ thick cedar since that is what I had available. The wood can be anything stable and readily available. This wood is miter cut similar to a picture frame, drilled for outer bolt access, and glued to the plywood.

The jaws can now be customized to hold the current project. For my scoop, I drilled out the center a little smaller than my scoop bowl and removed two opposing jaws.

When the time comes that I have removed too much of the jaws for my then current project, I can either make a new set of jaws or tool off the cedar and glue on new wood pieces. As with any home made tool, please be careful and use your head. Start slow then increase speed to where you are comfortable then dial back a little. As with any home made tool, you are the sole person responsible for its safety and your own safety.


From Charles
I chose your design because it looked the safest. However when I tightened the jaws, the screws pulled the plywood apart. I tried three different ply woods and had the same problem. Still like the design, would like to offer a suggestion for those folks with a Nova chuck. For $19.95 you can purchase a ‘NOVA 6021 Soft Chuck Accessory Jaw Set” from Amazon and mount your wooden jaws on the jaw set instead of PLY wood. The nylon jaws are made to modify for any configuration you need.

Alan comments:
Let me summarize this discussion for others who read this thread. Charles’ original jaws failed because the screws pulled thru the plywood. He found a great solution with the NOVA Soft Chuck. So he is off and running.

Why did his plywood fail? Not all plywood types are equally strong. Some types are very weak and should not be used.

1. Common fir plywood has few, thick plies and many voids. This should not be used for this project
2. Most Hardwood plywood is similar to fir plywood. The only difference is the outer plies are hardwood. This should not be used here.
3. Hardboard, particleboard or MDF core plywood is heavier and no voids. However, the core does not have the strength for this application.
4. Baltic birch (or other similar names) has many thin plies and no voids. It is significantly stronger than the other woods noted. However, it is still wood and not as strong as aluminum or steel. It was adequate for my jaws but I applied CA to the screw holes and am very careful not to overtighten. Then use only at low speeds and avoid standing in the rotational plane.

If your chuck is a Nova chuck then use his solution.

home made wood chuck scroll jaws

Woodturning Finish Using Stick Fast Thin Cyanoacrylate Adhesive 4-1/2 Ounce Bottle (CA Glue)

Stick Fast Thin Cyanoacrylate Adhesive 4-1/2 Ounce Bottle (CA Glue)

I used to wonder what CA finish was. I watched Cap’n Eddie do some CA finishes and the mystery was gone!

CA finish is basically just using superglue as a finish for your small wood turning products. CA, superglue or Cyanoacrylate Adhesive comes in thin to thick, it can be used for finishes, or fixing cracks or voids …even as a stablizer for soft wood.

You can find CA on Amazon or your local wood working store…. support these guys, I  think the Cap’n sells it too….. 

You can learn a lot from Cap’n Eddie Castelin about wood turning, I sure did. He got me through all the basics, now I would like to pay him back by sending some traffic his way. I pay him back by asking people to visit his site, and to visit his youtube account  for all he has done …. he served our country and taught me how to turn wood…..Making Shavings!

Purchase 4 or 16 ounce CA packages for your woodturning finishes!

I started off buying some CA or superglue from Harbor Freight and Menards. You get little tubes and if you don’t use the whole tube it goes bad fast! Do youself a favor and buy one of the 4 ounce or 16 ounce packages if you plan on using it for finishing some of your woodturning projects.

Testimonial on CA Finishes

I grabbed the below comment from Amazon about CA glue and CA finishes.

By Wayne Edgeworth on Aug 25, 2017

A great product for wood turning. Sets fast and holds strong. I have used this on several lathe projects that had small cracks and it has held strong. It is hard to sand once it sets up, but a light cut with a lathe knife or scraper will take care of that. It does have a strong odor, you may want to use a respirator or a fan. I’d recommend this product.
Safety warning: use in ventilated area, do not breath vapors, wear eye protection, do not get on skin or clothes, if you do get it on your skin just wash off with water. Be very careful because this stuff can get very hot and has a chance to spontaneously combust.

Check out some of the
finishes on these woodturnings!

CA Finish using Stick Fast Thin Cyanoacrylate Adhesive

CA Finish using Stick Fast Thin Cyanoacrylate Adhesive
CA Finishes using superglue or CA Finish using Stick Fast Thin Cyanoacrylate Adhesive
CA Finish using Stick Fast Thin Cyanoacrylate Adhesive
CA Finishes using superglue or CA Finish using Stick Fast Thin Cyanoacrylate Adhesive

Here’s Cap’n Eddie on CA Finishes

You’ll see the Captain at work using CA for woodturing finishes, if you’re new at this you must be confused and wondering “what the heck is CA?” Well, CA is superglue or Cyanoacrylate Adhesive which turns out that it really is more than just glue, you can use it as a finish on wood that looks just awesome.

Please remember to use proper saftey practices when using this finish, use protection on your hands (gloves) and use a proper mask while adequately ventilating your workspace!


Wood Hardener Experiment for Woodturning Bowl Project

Turning a Cherry Bowl and
Needed Wood Hardener

It’s been a while since I’ve added to my woodturning blog …..haven’t been feeling too well so I haven’t been working with my lathe. I’ve been cleaning up and trying to work on my garage roof plans and I’ve spent some time with the prototype’s for my carbide insert woodturning tools. Seems like there are a handfull of options out there if you want to buy a completed set of carbide tools but a full set could cost you anywhere from $400 to $600 dollars. I’m trying to develope 3 woodturning tools made with carbide inserts that will do everything you need and the entire set would cost somewhere around $250…..or about $85 each…. Going to take some time to get the prototypes finished and I might end up creating and selling just 10 sets or so a year ….and at $60 or so dollars…. just to help new turners get started. These carbide tools are really easy to use!

I know when I first started, if I could purchase a carbide tool for 60 bucks I would have jumped on it. I had so much trouble when I first started with Chinese wood turning tools. More on this latter….

Anyway…..I tried a little Wood Hardener Experiment for Woodturning Bowl Project

I had some wild cherry wood that was cut down a couple of years ago. I cut it myself, on my mothers property after a storm, thought I would be using for fireword or for the “smoker”. The logs were about 2 feet long and up to 20″ wide, sitting outside uncovered and no treatment for the ends, that is I did not seal the ends of the log or the endgrain.

The piece I decided to work with was at the above dimensions, it looks pretty good and I split it down the middle and found it to be very dry. I can only turn 12″ on my lathe so I figured I could cut off the outer soft material on the bigger piece and get a nice piece to turn ….looking for a good size bowl.

Next I created my blank and rounded the corners on my bandsaw. I really need to get a new blade so I can cut corners easily. In a perfect world I would have a dedicated bandsaw and blade set up just for cutting blanks!

Mounting the Cherry Bowl
Blank for Turning

I started my project with my Nova 2 Chuck fitted with a worm screw, it seemed to hold pretty good and pulled up nice and tight to the chuck. Next I pushed the tailstock into the other side of the blank and it went in rather easy, in fact, the outer layer was pretty soft in this spot. I decided to press the tailstock in tight and give it a try.

Everything seemed to hold tight. I did not find any more soft wood yet 🙂 So I shaped the bowl, with a tenon for the chuck to be on the tailstock side of the bowl blank. Shaping went pretty good but when I started to shape the blank for the chuck tenon I ran into more of that soft squishy wood! I decided I would finish shaping since I put this much work into it.

I really didn’t want the blank to spin off and hit me in the head, I don’t have a face mask yet, so I’ve tried to turn carefully and slowly.

I tried out my new carbide tools, a square carbide insert and a 15mm round insert, both worked excellently. Then I spend some time trying the get a handle on turning with a bowl gouge. I have a 1/2″ bowl gouge by Woodstock with a traditonal grind… up until now I’ve earned a new name…..”CATCH”, that’s right, I was the captain of catches and I was close to giving up. I thought it was the tool, the lathe and/or the wood but in reality it was just my technique! I’m really surprised a bowl hasn’t flew across the room and/or hit me in the head at some point because I’ve had so many catches.

Tradional Grind for My Bowl Gouge

Well I decided to give it another shot after waiting a couple of weeks. I reground my bowl gouge with a traditonal grind according to many experts, I’ll try to put up a pic. Not only did I regrind the tool, but I put a secondary grind on it for more clearance. As they say, “ride the bevel” seems my tool always got it the way causing me to have a catch or two or 10 🙂

Well, wouldn’t you know. My bowl gouge was cutting as good if not better than the carbide tools. I was “making shavings” as Capn Eddie says, and was that an awesome feeling. I didn’t care what the bowl looked like, all I cared about was watching the shavings fly just like the utube videos I’ve been watching. I had complete control of the side walls, inside the bowl and the outside shape!

Ran Into A Patch of Soft Wood

I stopped to examine my work and was proud of my turning! I finally got a bowl gouge to work right, I have to say it was the grinding on the original tool that probably messed things up, after using the oneway grinding jig I put a more desired grind on the bowl gouge and I could actually make it work. That’s what wood turning is all about. Finding these little changes or techniques that open the door to other methods and surprises 🙂

Usnig Wood Hardener on Lathe wood turning projectWell, as I was looking at the bowl I noticed a section that was off color and soft enough to push my finger through. I thought, great…. finally I turn my first bowl like a pro and its rotten. Then I remembered the soft tenon, it was the same type of wood, white and soft.

Experiment With Wood Hardener

I probably should have thrown it away, but it was my pride and joy. I wanted to hang it on the wall or something but because of the soft wood I was screwed.

I remember watching a video where the turner had the same situation and used a “wood hardener” so I did some searching and found some more info on different wood hardeners and thought I would experiment with my trophy and see if I could get a decent bowl out of it by using this “wood hardener”. I found a “minwax wood hardener” and ANOTHER wood hardener in a pint container at “Menards Home Center”, I know Home Depot has the Minwax Wood Hardener, a google search will give you some other sources for a wood hardener.liquid wood hardener for soft wood

You might think you could use an expoxy? The problem with most expoxies is that they do not penetrate the wood. If you know of an expoxy that penetrates the wood…. I would feel comfortable trying it.

Basically you just soak the soft spot with the hardener and let it dry. It soaks deep into the wood and hardens after a couple of hours. I also found 2 cracks and a chip. So I used some CA glue and poured it into the cracks, inside the bowl and outside the bowl. I also used CA and woodshavings and dust to form a paste to push into the cracks and chips.

I turned the bowl again, the wood hardener I used on the soft wood by the tenon worked great. It has keep the tenon solid and the wood chuck seems to be holding tight. As I turned the bowl the other soft spot turned nicely but after more shaping I found I needed to apply the hadener again.

Is A Wood Hardener Worth It?

You might think, “hey, don’t waste more money and time….throw the bowl away and start again!” I thought that initially but I really wanted to see how well this “wood hardener” works and if I have a bigger project would it be a possible solution should I run into rotted or soft wood? At this point I would said it is definitely something worth trying. It cost about 10 bucks for a pint and I only used, maybe a 1/5 or 1/6 or it ….so maybe I used a dollar or so of hardener. In my opinion, that would be worth the cost if you have an hour or more into the project.

BEFORE Woodhardener was applied, see white soft area in front of bowl
BEFORE Woodhardener was applied, see white soft area in front of bowl
wood hardener applied to woodturned bowl
AFTER wood hardener applied to woodturned bowl

I still think my chinese tools are half my problem when it comes to turning. I’d love to try an American made bowl gouge from D-Way, Thompson or Carter & Sons. All American made, and they seem to slice through wood like butter. Most of the guys doing high quality video turtorials always mention they are using these tools ….in fact Cap’n Eddie was just showing off one of his D-Way bowl gouges with a fingernail grind ….he gives it high praises!!!

Good to see Eddie returning to scene after his health problems!