Checkerboard Bowl




Introduction: Checkerboard Bowl

Final product with a Tung oil and Renaissance wax polish.

Step 1: Who Said Geometry Was Useless?

It all begins with a little math. I wanted a lot of segments to equal 1/2" by 1/2" on the outer rim. The thickness of the boards were 1/2 in so the math will come into the number of segments and diameter of the bowl. The diameter of the bowl wasn't that critical other than it needed to be smaller than the capacity of my lathe. I planned on making 60 segments, however it ended up at 62 due to a slight error compounded 60 times in my miter gauge. Use lots of glue on both sides to keep the chance of the piece exploding to a minimum. The whole checkerboard pattern was made with a 4.5" X 30" X 1/2" piece of walnut and maple.

Step 2: Gluing Up the Segments.

Remember to use lots of glue! One thing I did discover was the thin end-grain interior portion absorbed the glue and swelled up quite a bit and caused the pattern to shift. Using a caul helped, but it's not perfect. 1/2 of the circle was glued up at a time.

Step 3: Preparing for the Ring Bevel Cuts

Using a forstner bit I created a reference surface to hot glue a pivot point which will be used later in cutting the rings out. I've also laid out the 45 degree cut lines which will be used in the next step to guide the cut alignment.

Step 4: Where the Magic Happens

The cut line is aligned with the blade and the pivot screw tightened for each ring. I couldn't resist a quick dry fit to get a sneak peek. At this point it was way better than I had imagined. This is the same technique as the "Bowl for a board" technique, however, instead of starting with a "board" it starts with a segmented "disk."

Step 5: 1/2 Rings Into Rings

Gluing up the rings is next on the list. They are no perfectly 90 degrees to each other so I have a 15" plywood disk with PSA sandpaper to take the bare minimum off to get them in perfect alignment.

Step 6: Starting to Build Out the Bowl

To stat building out the bowl I tru-up the enter hole in the 1st ring which will be glued onto a tenon on the base block of walnut. Before gluing on the next ring the face of the previous ring is flattened with chisels and a sanding board. The pattern is aligned and the next ring is glued on.

Step 7: Finishing the Rings and Rough Shaping.

It's just more of the same at this point. The rings are flattened on the sanding disk prior to glue-up. The inside and outside surfaces are trued up.

Step 8: Final Shaping, Sanding and Finishing

Don't forget your PPE! Everything is brought to final shape and size and brought down through the sanding grits to 400. The 1st coat is a Tung oil finish to bring out the contrasting wood colors. The final finish is a Renaissance wax polish. Once the polish is on the bottom is parted off and sanded flat.

I hope you all enjoyed. I can't tell you how much better this turned out than I was expecting. I've watched a ton of youtube videos on segmented turning and on "Bowl from a board" videos and I was struck by the idea to make this.

Step 9: Bonus Step

"Ohio Star" quilt block bowl using a similar technique.

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    12 Discussions


    2 months ago

    Nice project. I can only imagine calculating all those segments and angles to get it to come out correct. I thought about such projects many time since I do have a couple lathes myself. But with other project taking precedence, I've yet to try it. One day. But Bravo on your turning.

    3 replies

    Obviously nice looking and creative. But your 'instuctions' don't give a clue. They're kind of like pull the pistons, hone the cylinders if they need it, put some rings on, kind of put the pistons back in, and you should probably tighten the nuts on the connecting rods just enough. Personally, I would have next to no clue on what you were saying even though I have a degree in math and have worked with both wood and glue, even turning them.

    Perhaps you were just showing what could be done. It is cool though.

    Flame suit on.

    All I have to say is, why am I getting this reply when I didn't even post the project?

    Fair comment, no flame suit reqired. Honestly I never intended to make an instructable while I was making this bowl, so I didn't get all of the pictures and video needed. When I saw there was a WW contest here I did the best with what I had. There was an assumption that anyone seeing this who would ever try to recreate it would already be experienced with segmented turning, and would know the process.

    Otherwise, this is just someting really cool to look at and appreciate.


    7 weeks ago

    Gorgeous! Extremely impressive.

    When I hired kids without experience (whom I was willing to teach) for my small construction company I was amazed at how little math some knew. So I devised a very rudimentary test. How many eights in an inch? What is one half of 3/4 of an inch? If you only have a ruler, straight edge and hand saw, how do you cut a 45 degree angle in the end of a 5 1/2" wide board? Plus some other easy ones. I always asked if they could read a ruler before asking the questions. Sadly, I discovered it was the dumbing down of America.

    Your instructable is spectacular!


    Nailed It!.jpgNOT BAD, KINK, MY BOY..png

    your bowl looks great, you should enter it in one of the "wood" contests on instructables!

    I haven't considered it, since I make things for the challenge of making new and different "art." Having 3 kids and a full time job doesn't give a lot of time either. To give an idea of time, this took 2 full days over the weekend and a lot of time waiting for glue to dry.

    Nice piece. Do you have photos or additional explanation showing how you made the segments?

    1 more answer

    Sorry, no photos, but all I used was a miter gauge and table saw. Making this bowl taught me value of precision versus dumb luck. I had more of latter then the former. I've made a new miter sled for my table saw that is a lot more precise (image attached).

    miter sled.jpg

    There are good projects, cool projects, pretty projects, etc on this site. But this one is a step above. REALLY NICE WORK. Love the improvisation for the disc sander. Did you make a simpler (non-"mosaic") version first before you invested the time to do the mosaic discs first?