Turning Stack-Laminated Bowls
Rude Osolnik Shows How to Make Bowls From Bandsawn Rings
By Stephen H. Blenk
There aren't many woodturners I'd travel 3,000 miles to visit, but when AW offered me a chance to work with Rude Osolnik, it didn't take a lot of arm-twisting to get me moving.
For the record, Rude (pronounced "Rudy") is probably one of the three top woodturners in the U.S. (To avoid disputes, I'll let you decide who the other two are.) His work is in museums throughout the world and even reached Buckingham Palace when Eleanor Roosevelt presented one of his bowls to Queen Elizabeth II.
Being able to tap into Rudc's nearly 60 years of experience was a rare opportunity, and there were a million questions I wanted to ask. But the one at the top of my list was something that has always rankled me as a woodturner: How do you avoid wasting material when hollowing out bowls? Normally when you turn, the inside of a bowl blank comes out as shavings— expensive carpeting for hamster cages. As a turner, this has always hurt my feelings and my wallet.
Of course, there are tools designed to core the inside of a blank so you can turn one or more nesting bowls. But while good and functional, these systems either core out cone-shaped sections, which still wastes a lot of wood, or they limit your designs by producing blanks with curved bottoms that you j can only make into basic, round salad-5 bowl shapes. What I wanted was a system that offered some variation, wouldn't cost a million bucks and was easy enough for most of us to try. Naturally, Rude had just the thing: | stack-laminated bowls.
To make a stack-laminated bowl, Rude starts with a thick, well-dried board that is surfaced on two sides. Then he handsaws rings out of the board, glues the rings together to form the rough sides of a bowl, and adds a solid base. (See photos, page and 59..) Oncc the glue is dry, he mounts this laminated blank on the lathe and turns it to final shape.
I know you're wondering how he deals with the saw kerfs he must cut through the rings. Simple: There aren't any. To cut each ring, he breaks the handsaw blade apart, inserts it through a predrilled hole in the blank and then silver-solders the blade together again. (See sidebar, page 58.) After cutting a ring, he breaks the silver-soldered joint, moves the blade to the next ring-hole and repeats the proccss._
Cutting enough rings to make a bowl this way only takes him about 30 minutes. And unlike some "ringing" techniques that require you to mount a blank on the lathe and part off the rings, Rude's lets you work stock that would be too thick to part off. (In these photos. Rude is working some big Honduras mahogany—3 in. thick.)
Rude likes to make his rings about 2x/i in. wide, because that gives him greater design possibilities. (See drawing, right.) For a bowl with a sharper taper, you could angle your handsaw table when cutting out the rings, then laminate progressively narrower rings. Or you could even make a closed vessel by turning two stack laminations and then gluing these "halves" together, trueing up the sides and adding a top with a hole in it.
It's best to use a straight-grained wood when stack laminating. That way the figure will match closely from one layer to the next. You'll also want to orient the grain so each layer is
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