Secret Wood Bowl DIY





Introduction: Secret Wood Bowl DIY

About: Come spend some time in the shop. I'm a hobbyist woodworker and professional computer geek in Northern California. I guess my projects will vary widely, and I have no clue what I plan to make next...

A while back I made an Instructable DIY version of the popular secret wood rings. Since then I wanted to attempt a similar project on a larger scale. Here is my take on a wood and resin bowl.

Step 1: The Walnut Base

I started off with some 1" thick walnut slabs I had in the shop. These were all cut down to 1" wide strips.

I then passed them all through my thickness planer to get a uniform dimension. 1" thick and 1" wide.

If you stop at this point, you can make a very attractive walnut cutting board. OR, we can break out the sledgehammer and have a little FUN!

To achieve the splintered look, I took out some pent up aggression and whacked my way through a stack of walnut! A very satisfying process.

Here comes a bit of a design quandary. I could save a lot of resin if I were to glue up these pieces and turn them on the lathe. After they were rough turned I could then add my resin, saving having to pour very much resin much in the center. Now I would not only be locked into that shape but it would also add a LOT of steps to the process.

Step 2: Pouring the Resin

I opted to spend a little extra money on resin and save a lot of hassle with an overly complex setup. The truth is, I'm still under $40 for the resin used on this.

I mixed up about 30oz of polyester resin colored with epoxy pigment. It was poured in 12oz increments over 2 days time. Each batch of resin was mixed with less and less pigment each time. The hope was to achieve a gradient that would mimic the sky. I'm mostly happy with the end result!

One layer is poured, then allowed to cure for several hours until the next layer is poured. If you mix and pour too much at once the resin will overheat and crack, ruining the project.

After several days I had a bowl blank that measured 8" x 8" x 4". The block was completely cured and ready to be turned on the lathe.

Step 3: Making a Bowl!

Using my circle cutting jig at the band saw I removed the corners. This speeds up the turning process and allowed me to save some smaller pieces for future projects.

Turning an 8" bowl with this much polyester resin was a challenge. The resin is VERY brittle and hard not to chip out. Sharp tool and a steady hand is required.

I toyed with keeping the wood spikes but decided they were too pokey for a bowl

Hollowing is a SLOW process and took me close to an hour to completed. On an all wood bowl, this would take about 15-20 minutes...

I then cleaned up the resin rim with my carbide tools.

Step 4: ​Sanding Time!

The bulk of the work is done with 120grit paper. This smooths out curves and removed any leftover tool marks. After that, each grit just removes the last grits scratches. This photo is the result after sanding to 800 grit.

Next, I switched to my polishing pads. They start at 1500 and go up to 12000. I love my micro-mesh pads, but they gave me trouble on this project. Since I had to use them without water (so as not to ruin the walnut portion) they melted from the friction and began leaving marks on the resin. I was able to get to about 3600 grit before giving up on them.

So, I finished up with some plastic polish to further shine the resin.

Step 5: Close Ups!

I'm very happy with the result! Thank you very much for looking.



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    36 Discussions

    I have a question. What did you use to color your resin? Have you also tried powders, if so, what kind? Really awesome though.


    1 year ago

    Love it. I appreciate all the Instructables/videos you post. This bottle stopper and pen were both inspired by your posts. On the bottle stopper I also used micro mesh pads, and didn't have too much of a problem using them wet - as long as I stayed primarily on the resin. I then finished it with Shellawax friction polish and that brought it to a glassy shine.

    Thanks for the inspiration!


    1 year ago

    Interesting, I must admit... but thinking hard... would it be possible with wasting less material? Both resin and wood?

    7 replies

    There are special tools turners use, that can make it possible to get sometimes three and four bowls from a larger peice of wood. They exist, and they are expensive, but they can make a set of bowls from the same blank. Don't know the name of them though. Try Lee Valley tools, they carry all kinds of wood turner delights!

    They are called Center Savers, and you are right, they are expensive. Take the shavings off the bowl you cut and put in a mold with some resin would be much cheaper.

    If you do a lot of pen turning, you could take those cutoff scraps that are trimmed off after gluing up the barrels of the pens and dump them all in a mold like this and pour in some resin.

    definitely would be possible but not sure the effort is worth the savings. You would have to do smaller blocks of wood and plan your locations. Basically putting quality wood where the bowl would be and putting less quality i.e. Pine were you would cut away. Would have to do a periphery of quality with splintered edges then the bottom and fill center with full length pine pieces. I dont turn wood so not sure if it is practical but there is the theory....

    I have been thinking about basically doing the whole bowl "inside another bowl" and pressing another bowl on top of if, possibly with layers of plastic to prevent the lower bowl and the upper bowl from being glued to the bowl being made.

    Basically a bowl making press for the resin to harden already in the shape of a bowl and then one would machine away far less excess material.

    Like pre-casting something to finish it with far less lost material. That would be my proposition.

    that might work. You could even just use two bowls from the store as your mould. Glass might work well and spray it with Pam or similar nonstick spray

    very nice work..


    1 year ago


    Great video and fabulous looking end product! I was really surprised at how satisfying it was to watch you pour the resin onto the wood and also turn the bowl. Well done sir!

    Absolutely beautiful and original. Choice of coloring adds to the XXXXX's.

    What an beautiful and astonishing creation!

    Thank you , let me see the bowl. I will try to make one two.

    I wonder - if rather than using the broken bits all over, what if you only arranged them around the edges and placed pieces cut to the full length in the center where the resin wouldn't be showing anyway. That should cut down on the amount of resin you need?


    1 year ago

    You should look into Silmar 41The resin you have there costs about $25 a quart. Silmar 41 from US Composites is about $40 a gallon plus shipping. So you save a lot of money. And it includes the hardener. I love the bowl. I have done a few but never like this.


    1 year ago

    I would have used that beautiful wood as a shelf, table inset, or box. I would have contacted a mill and seen if they would sell me off cuts dirt cheap.

    Smart guy! I like how you think!