If you’re a bowl turner but haven’t tried turning an epoxy bowl yet, you’re missing out! Mixing media like wood and epoxy leads to beautiful results. Here’s what I learned from my first epoxy bowl.
Have you tried turning an epoxy bowl yet? Combining wood and epoxy can give you incredible results, and it can be a great way to use up those small scraps too.
I’ve dabbled in turning over the past few years making some pens, wooden bowls, shaving sets, etc. One of my favorite pieces would have to be a resin bowl. I was in the shop trying to figure out how to use some unique offcuts when I had the idea to cast them in a resin mold and then turn it.
The set up was fairly easy, although impatient me didn’t like waiting a week for the resin to cure. I used a deep pour epoxy, and eventually it was time to turn my bright pink epoxy bowl blank. The offcuts were peeking out of the resin and I was anxious to see what the final product would look like.
Overall, turning an epoxy bowl isn’t much different than turning a wooden bowl. But there are a few exceptions. Because epoxy is plastic, the initial few passes were very chippy. It reminded me of turning a maple bowl, but the epoxy is harder.
My chisel caught a few times, which admittedly freaked me out, but with an adjustment of the tool rest and a few light passes, the irregularity of the blank soon gave way to a nice smooth surface.
It’s very important to use the right tools for epoxy. I used a roughing tool with a negative rake cutter to get started, and wrapped up shaping with a finishing tool with a negative rake cutter.
Once the bowl was smoother, I could start aggressively taking off epoxy and the experience was really fun. I started to laugh when I realized the shavings from an epoxy bowl are much different than wood shavings. Wood shavings simply fall to the ground. Some of them might stick to your face shield, but not in the same way as epoxy.
My face shield was covered! I had to pause a few times during the process to wipe the staticky shavings off my face. Between bouts of giggling caused by the static cling, I was eventually able to finish the bowl.
Turning amazes me. I start with a blank form and stare at it wondering if anything good can come out of it. Then I get to work. Eventually the blank begins to take on a life of its own.
Even when I’m almost finished with a bowl, I’m not sure if it will turn out simply looking like a hollowed piece of material, or if it will actually transform into a functional piece of art.
I feel this way with both wood and epoxy. The material always appears a little dull during the turning process, as the grain patterns, burls, and intricacies of the material are all coated in dust. It looks lifeless—until the magic happens.
My favorite part of the turning process is applying finish to a piece. That’s when it truly comes to life. What was once dull and ho-hum really pops when the finish is applied.
I was not disappointed when I finished my first epoxy bowl. Because this bowl was a mix of epoxy and wood, I sanded it to 220-grit and put on my everyday bowl finish. If the bowl was exclusively epoxy, I would have sanded to 1000-grit and polished it with rubbing compound.
The offcuts I had imbedded in the epoxy didn’t look anything like I had imagined they would after the finish. When I was finally done with the bowl, I noticed the offcuts sort of resembled a little man. Who would have thought? Definitely not me. It wasn’t what I was going for, but ultimately it was a pleasant surprise. I absolutely love the bowl. It’s one of my favorite turning projects to date.
If you enjoy turning and want to try your hand at an epoxy bowl, do it!