Fan Coral Bowl

A Thing Of Beauty is a Joy Forever!

the woodturning of Jason Smith R.P.T.

How did I turn my Fan Coral Bowl?

Below this you will find further information giving you a more detailed understanding of some of the processes I use to make woodturned art.


It all starts hereā€¦.


I selected a bowl blank of appropriate size for the project in what looks like a straight grained piece of maple, without (as far as I can tell) any inclusions. It was dry (about 12%) as I do not want it moving as it dries.


It was mounted in the normal way and the back of the bowl turned as standard along with the foot.The foot must be sized with absolute accuracy to ensure when it is rechucked for hollowing the chuck does not mar the foot. All sanding (to 400 grit - to give tooth for paint adhesion) is carried out now.


The bowl is then reversed, mounted in the jaws (just snugged up - no Vulcan death grips) and a small number of holes are then drilled to a precise depth of 2mm in the underside of the bowl.


Hollowing of the bowl is then carried out in the normal stepwise manner - working to the correct thickness wood an inch at a time, and sanding at each stage before moving on to the next inch of wood, until the entire bowl has been reduced in thickness to approximately 1.4mm. Because the normal method of shining light through the wood cannot be used (this is dry wood - not wet) the 2mm deep holes drilled in the underside act as a depth gauge; when you can see through the drilled holes the wood is just under 2mm thick!


The bowl is then removed from the chuck and the design laid out using appropriate reference materials (high definition photographs are an absolute essential).


Piercing is carried out with an NSK Presto 2 high speed dental air turbine - working with carbide fissure bits to remove the unnecessary wood. the turbine is run at approximately 500,000rpm to provide a clean cut to the wood, and the handpiece can get extremely cold - frequent breaks are essential not only for health reasons, but also to keep your concentration to a maximum.

Upon completion of piercing the background colour is applied, I use Golden airbrush acrylics for this, starting with the lightest colours and working through to shading grey. Broad areas are done first then detail is added after - the edges of the fans and stems.


The fish etc are done next. Frisket is applied and then cut away where necessary in order that paints can be applied. Generally lighter colours are applied first working through to darker colours and detailed areas last. shading is always done right at the end.

In some cases there has to be variation in the order of colouring - for example the black of the trigger fish must be applied first because it is opaque, I make this paint up myself using artists acrylics and appropriate mediums to produce a colour that can be airbrushed on (a high quality airbrush is essential).