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Drilling a hole in a turned bowl

mikemcg's picture

I need to drill a hole in a bowl I'm turning (making a yarn bowl).  I'm looking to see if anyone has any "tricks" for doing this.  I was planning on turning the bowl and then making a curved backer block on the bandsaw to prevent tearout on the inside of the bowl.  I don't want to drill the hole before turning the bowl because I'm concerned about a catch when the bowl gouge goes over the hole.

Any advice is appreciated.

swenson's picture

Where is the hole?  In the (post #170363, reply #1 of 7)

Where is the hole?  In the bowl bottom?  What size hole?  Can you set the depth of the drill so a brad point just exits the other side with the tip making a pin hole and marking the spot that you will drill,  in other words, drill from both sides so no tearout.

RalphBarker's picture

location and bit choice (post #170363, reply #2 of 7)

As Swenson suggests, the location of the hole can be a critical element in your decision of how to approach the drilling operation. So is bit choice. If the bowl can be solidly supported and clamped on a drill press, a Forstner bit might also be a good option, combined with the drilling from both sides approach. Making a very small pilot hole (1/16" or so) through the bowl can also give either a brad point or Forstner center spur a guide.

mikemcg's picture

Thanks for the replies.  The (post #170363, reply #3 of 7)

Thanks for the replies.  The hole is in the side.  The pilot hole approach sounds like it should work.  I'll try that and let you know how it works.

swenson's picture

Catches (post #170363, reply #4 of 7)

I don't want to give you advice and have you tear out a bowl, but I don't think a small pre drilled hole will cause a tool catch.

mikemcg's picture

Pre-drilled hole and catches (post #170363, reply #5 of 7)

The final hole will be about 3/8", and I'm already terrible at turning the insides of bowls without catching which is why I'm concerned.

roc's picture

A couple of thoughts (post #170363, reply #6 of 7)

1.  After drilling the hole you could then press a plug into the hole (no glue just a snug fit ).  Turn the bowl then carefully press the plug out.

2.  If you happen to have access to a metal lathe, I do, then you can turn that part of the bowl on the metal lathe which has a stout , extremely stable and controllable, cross slide to hold the cutter that will not allow a catch to happen.  This is called an interrupted cut and is a routine operation on a metal lathe.

PS: I have done wood turning  only on my metal lathe but from some of the frail, full of holes bowls I have seen that wood turners have cut it should be doable on your wood lathe once you learn how.

In this video advance it some to skip the introduction if it doesn't interest you.


Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe. Abraham Lincoln ( 54° shaves )

Brodog's picture

Once you've shaped the (post #170363, reply #7 of 7)

Once you've shaped the outside, drill the hole and fill with wax.  Keep your tool rest close to the bowl and ride the bevel.  Work inward from the outside, get the edge the right thickness and then leave it alone as you go deeper.  In larger bowls, the outer edge will flex if you turn thin.