How to Make Handmade Wooden Salad Bowls

By Michelle Labbe
Wooden salad bowls can be made at home with proper equipment and skills.

A set of hand-carved wooden salad bowls lends a sophisticated yet homey feel to a gathering of friends or family. Wooden salad bowls are simple but elegant, and the process of carving your own can add an extra sense of pride when they are used. Learning to master a wood lathe isn't easy, but if you enjoy woodworking, carving simple bowls is a forgiving project. All you need to do is carve a set of deep bowls that are wide at the rim, suitable for holding an abundance of leafy greens.

Place the wood block you're carving onto the wood lathe. Mount it in between the center of the two stocks of the machine and secure in place. Wear protective gloves. Use the gouge tool to begin forming the outside of the bowl. Hold the gouge on the tool rest and spin the lathe to create an even surface.

Carve the outside form for a deep bowl that is narrow at the base and wide around the rim. The exact shape of the bowl is your choice, but a standard salad bowl should be capable of holding a large, leafy salad, and its contents should be easy to toss with a pair of salad tongs to distribute the ingredients evenly.

Turn the bowl around to begin carving out the inside. Remove the bowl and turn it so that the base of the bowl is at the longer head-stock end of the lathe. Secure the wood piece in the stock. Move the shorter tail-stock out of the way to access the inside of the bowl.

Use a small hand-cutting tool with an arm brace to carve away the inside of the bowl, holding the tool in place and turning the lathe. Use a strong but delicate touch at this stage. The bowl is held in place only by the head-stock, so it will be less stable than before.

Follow the outside shape of the bowl as a guide for carving out the inside. Carve to desired thickness, depending on your preferences and skill level. A thickness of one inch should leave plenty of room for error when carving a large salad bowl.

Sand the outside and inside of the bowl to remove any carving marks or imperfections. Turn the bowl around again to finish the base of the bowl, giving it a flat surface or a "foot" to rest on if desired. Sand the bowl again and coat with finish as desired. Repeat the carving process, if you wish, to create a matching set of salad bowls.

Tip

To make the carving process easier, especially if you're a beginner, you may want to mark the block of wood to denote the planned thickness of the walls and the depth of the bowl. Remark as necessary.

Warning

Work slowly and carefully to prevent slips of the hand. Always wear protective gloves when working with carving tools.

About the Author

Michelle Labbe has been writing online and for print since 2004. Her work has appeared in the online journals Reflection's Edge and Cabinet des Fées as well as in Harvard Book Store's anthology, "Michrochondria." She is pursuing a Master of Arts in publishing and writing at Emerson College.