How to Build a Wooden Nut Bowl

Free Woodworking Plans from Lee's Wood Projects

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This nut bowl is turned on a wood lathe in three separate segments, then glued and doweled together.  Using this method makes it more simple to turn, and when assembled, appears as one unit.  The bowl has an elegant appearance that will make a nice addition to your home furnishings.  It is designed to store various types of nuts for the holiday seasons.  The wood species and the finish can be changed to fit the appearance desired.

Click On Image to See Larger Scalable Drawing

Technical Information for Building a Wooden Nut Bowl

A. Materials List:

1 A BOWL 3 1/4" x 9 1/2" dia; AFRICAN PADAUK
1 B PEDESTAL 3 1/4" x 4 1/4" dia. AFRICAN PADAUK
1 C BASE 13/16" x 5 3/4" dia AFRICAN PADAUK
1 Dowel Rod; 3/8" x 4 9/16" Birch


African Padauk




B. Cutting and Gluing Procedures:

  1. This bowl will be made in three separate sections and then glued together to create the final project.
  2. Use a 1" x 12" x 72" Padauk board to cut out the required pieces for the project.
  3. First, joint one edge and one surface of the board. Turn the board over and use a planer to plane the board 13/16" thick.
  4. The first section will be for the Bowl (A).  Use a radial arm saw to cut off four boards 12” long.
  5. The second section will be for the Pedestal (B).  Use a radial arm saw to cut off two  boards, each 6” long.  Use a table saw to rip the boards 6” wide. 
  6. The third section will be for the Base (C).  From the remainder of the board use a band saw with a circle jig to cut out a 6 ¼” diameter circle.
  7. Glue and clamp the four 12” x 12” boards face to face for the bowl section.  Also glue and clamp the four 6” x 6” boards face to face for the pedestal section.
  8. Clean up excess glue with a damp cotton rag and allow the glue to dry for 24 hours.
  9. Use a band saw and a circle jig to cut out a 10” circle for the bowl and a 5” circle for the pedestal.
  10. NOTE:  Before gluing any of the boards together, be sure to use a tack rag to remove excess saw dust.

C. Lathe and Sanding Procedures:

  1. To prepare the bowl (A), locate the center of the bowl and place a 4” diameter metal faceplate over it. Mark the hole locations and fasten the faceplate to it with wood screws. The screws should be long enough to penetrate the majority of the bowl base.
  2. Securely screw the faceplate onto the wood lathe headstock spindle. Adjust the tool rest about 1/8" from the bowl stock (A) and about 1/8" above center. Set the lathe speed to 600 RPM.  Before turning on the power, turn the stock by hand to make sure the bowl clears the tool rest.
  3. To rough cut the bowl use a 3/4" wide gouge. The gouge should be twisted slightly so shearing cuts can be taken.  You will have to stop the lathe and measure the diameter periodically.  When the bowl is approximately 9 ½” diameter, use a skew to smooth the exterior.
  4. Turn the tool rest parallel to the bowl face, and use a gouge to shape the interior of the bowl.  Be sure to keep adjusting the tool rest so the distance is between it and the bowl stock remains 1/8” to ¼” Use a round nose tool to complete and smooth the interior.  The outer rim of the bowl should be approximately 3/8” thick.  Also, the base of the bowl should be approximately 3/4” thick.  Use calipers to measure these distances.   
  5. To prepare the Base (C), locate the center and place a 4” face plate over it.  Mark the hole locations and secure it with wood screws.
  6.  Use a gouge to turn the base to 5 3/4” diameter.  Next, use a small round nose tool to shape the arc on the top edge of the base. 
  7. The pedestal (B) should be shaped next.  Locate the center of each end of the pedestal.  Draw perpendicular lines through the center on one end of the pedestal.  Use a wooden mallet and a chisel to cut two perpendicular 2” long slits along the lines where they intersect.  The two slits should be narrow and approximately 1/8” deep. 
  8. Pound a spur center into the slits with a wooden mallet and place the spur center into the headstock of the lathe.  Place a drop of oil on the other end of the pedestal stock and secure it with a dead center in the tailstock. 
  9. Use a gouge to round the pedestal to 4 ½” diameter.  Stop the lathe, and use an outside caliper to determine the diameter.  With a pencil make marks ¼” from one end and ¾” from the opposite end.  Place the pencil on the marks and turn the stock by hand to scribe lines around the stock.
  10. Use a parting tool to cut the depth of each mark to 2 ¼” diameter.  Use a round nose tool to shape the concave portion in the center of the pedestal to 1 5/8” diameter.  Use a skew to round the edges of the top and bottom portions of the pedestal.
  11. Remove the tool rest and hand sand sections (A), (B), & (C) on the lathe.  Each section should be rough sanded with 80 grit sandpaper.  Next, intermediate sand each section with 120 grit sandpaper, and finish each section with 220 grit sandpaper. .
  12. After sanding each section, use a tack rag to remove any sanding dust.

D. Assembly Procedures:

  1. Use a drill press and a 3/8” Forstner bit to drill holes through the centers of the Pedestal (B) and the Base (C).  Also, turn the bowl (A) upside down and drill a ½” deep hole in the center.
  2. Use a band saw to cut a 3/8” diameter dowel rod 4 9/16 long. 
  3. Place wood glue in the hole of the bowl and use a mallet to tape the dowel rod into it.
  4. Place glue on the top face of the pedestal and in the hole, and then slip the pedestal onto the dowel rod so that it is seated with the bottom of the bowl.  Next place glue on the other end of the pedestal and into the hole of the base and slip it onto the dowel rod. 
  5. From a ¾” thick pine board, use a band saw cut out a 5 1/2” diameter circle.  Center the board inside the bowl and use four quick adjust bar clamps to clamp the bowl assembly together.  The pine board is used to prevent marring the inside of the bowl during the clamping procedure. 
  6. Clean up the excess glue with a damp cotton rag. .


  1. The pine circle should be cut prior to starting the assembly gluing procedures so that the glue does not set-up before the bowl assembly is clamped together.
  2. It is very important that the glue is completely cleaned up quickly so that it will not dry and prevent the finish from soaking into the wood. 

Finish Procedures:

  1. The finish should be applied with the project on the lathe.
  2. Reattach the face plate onto the bottom of the base (C) of the bowl assembly with the wood screws.
  3. Screw the faceplate onto the lathe headstock spindle.
  4. Set the lathe to its slowest speed.
  5. Apply a walnut water stain with a cotton rag and then set it aside to dry for 6 hours.  If a darker appearance is desired apply a second coat.
  6. After the stain has dried, lightly hand-sand the stain with 220 grit sandpaper.  Remove any sanding dust with a tack rag.
  7. Use a rag to apply a coat of lacquer finish.  Allow the lacquer to dry for 2 hours and then lightly hand sand with 200 grit sandpaper.  Remove sanding dust with a tack rag.
  8. For added protection, repeat step #7 as many times as desired.
  9. If an additional sheen is desired, apply a coat of paste carnauba wax.  Allow the wax to dry and then buff with a dry rag.
  10. Remove the bowl assembly from the lathe and detach the face plate from the base.
  11. Attach a sheet of cotton velvet to the bottom of the base (C) with spray adhesive and allow it to dry over night.  The velvet will help prevent damaging fine furniture where the bowl may be placed.  

*Congratulations, your custom decorative fireplace mantel is finished and ready to use

Related Projects:
Segmented Wood Bowl
Salad Bowl
Wood Pedestal Bowl