Lidded Antler Bowl - Canadian Woodworking Magazine

Turning Project


Lidded Antler Bowl

I chose to do this little project because of the uniqueness of the material. The piece is actually comprised of a few different woods, but the main focal point is the elk antler, which makes up the body of the bowl. This project incorporates some box making techniques as well as bowl turning techniques.

The main bowl section is elk antler, the lid is African blackwood, and the foot is a combination of rosewood and serpentwood. It is the different textures and surfaces that add to this project's visual appeal.
Main Body
•   Begin with the main body, which is the elk antler or 'button'. This is a very hard and brittle material. Start the piece using the tailstock for maximum support. Antler cuts well, but only with a very sharp tool. Shape the bottom first, as when shaping a bowl. The only difference is that now the tailstock is in play. I use a Sorby stebcenter, which makes it possible to turn down to the required dimension for the foot. The foot will later be used to hold the piece and facilitate cutting the inside of the bowl. Leave the natural edge on the antler button, as it adds a lot of character to the piece.

•   Use a small ⅛" parting tool to cut the spigot that will serve to hold the piece. Turn a small bead on the bottom with the parting tool. You can change the angle of the tool, effectively making it into a skew, and roll the bead left and right. Following this, scrape the bottom cleanly and sand it smooth.

•   Use a ¼" gouge to cut the inside. Again, use the tailstock for support until you get the edge of the inside hollowed out a bit. The tailstock is there for a reason; use it when you need it. Next, scrape the high spots on the inside. Because this material is very hard, it scrapes very well and sanding can be done with a fine grit.

Antler held with Sorby stebcenter

Cut the spigot with a parting tool

Cut the inside with a ¼" gouge
•   With a very sharp square end scraper, scrape a recess that will accept the lid.

•   Mount a piece of African blackwood between centers, true it up, and then size the lid. For this, use a parting tool, taking light cuts from the side until the lid fits snugly into the bowl.

•   Turn the inside (tailstock side) of the lid slightly concave, then put it aside.

Scrape the high spots

Size the lid
•   Mount the stock for the foot between centers and true it up with a skew. Use a chuck to hold the piece, and turn a recess to fit the spigot of the bowl. Then, part off a section of the piece. With the section still in the chuck make a jam chuck, reverse the foot onto it, and then turn the bottom of the foot.

•   Back to the lid. With the same piece left in the chuck, turn the front surface slightly convex so that the inside of the lid will sit on the end. Next, apply double sided tape to this surface and attach the lid using the tailstock to line it up. Remember that at this point you are not taking a heavy cut, so the tape is quite sufficient to hold the piece. First shape the top, and then do any detailing with a skew or a 3-in-1 tool.

•   Sand and polish the lid, bowl and foot. Glue the foot to the bowl and attach the lid.

True the foot with a skew

Turn a recess for the spigot

Part off a section

Make a jam chuck

Turn the bottom of foot

Detail the top
Sorby Stebcenter available at:
Lee Valley Tools 1-800-683-8170

Paul Ross
(613) 393-1795

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