How to Build a Wooden Salad Bowl

Free Woodworking Plans from Lee's Wood Projects

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The construction of this bowl is unique in the fact that the side strips are glued vertically instead of horizontally as compared with traditional laminated bowls. There are many types of bowl designs and processes for construction, and this type is very interesting and rewarding to make. It is a beautiful show piece and perfect for storing fruit or for preparing salads for meals.

Click On Image to See Larger Scalable Drawing

Technical Information for Building a Wooden Salad Bowl

A. Materials List:

1 A Bowl Base 3/4" x 10 1/2" Dia. WALNUT
19 B Bowl Sides 5/8" x 2" x 5" WALNUT


Black Walnut

B. Cutting Procedures:

  1. Use a 1” x 12” x 36” walnut board for this project.
  2. Joint one face and one edge of the board.
  3. Use a radial arm saw to cut off 12” from the board.
  4. Plane the board ¾” thick.
  5. Use a circle jig with a band saw to cut a 10 ½” circle for the base (A) of the bowl.
  6. Adjust the table saw fence 2 ¼” from the saw blade and rip the 12” x 24” board five times.
  7. Adjust the table saw fence 2” from the blade, and the blade angle to 9.475 degrees, or as close to that angle as can be measured on your table saw.
  8. Rip a 9.475 degree bevel on one side of each board.
  9. Turn the boards end for end and cut the same bevel on the other edge of each board.
  10. At this point the boards should form a trapezoid shape when viewed from the ends.
  11. Use a miter saw or a radial arm saw to cut four 5 1/8” long pieces from each board.  Nineteen of the pieces will be used to form the sides (B) of the bowl.
  12. Trial fit the 19 sides (B) vertically around the bowl base (A).  Use a band clamp to hold the sides together.
  13. Check the fit.  Make any trim cuts if necessary, so that each piece fits properly to form the interior and exterior sides of the bowl.
  14. Use a tack rag to remove any saw dust from the bowl base and sides.

C. Gluing Procedures:

  1. Use polyvinyl acetate type glue such as Titebond II to glue the bowl sides together around the base.
  2. Use a liberal amount of glue around the bowl base as well as on each edges of the bowl sides.
  3. The sides should be placed vertically around the base.
  4. Use two band clamps around the bowl assembly.  One clamp should be placed near the bottom and the other clamp near the top.  Tighten each clamp securely and remove excess glue with a damp cloth.
  5. It is recommended to have two helpers when gluing and clamping this project. 
  6. Titebond II is designed to set up within 5 minutes.  If a longer set-up time is needed, use Titebond III glue.  Titebond III will set up in about 10 minutes.
  7. Allow the glue to dry for 24 hours.

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

D. Lathe Procedures

  1. Remove the band clamps and perfectly center a 6” lathe faceplate on the bottom of the bowl base. 
  2. Secure the faceplate to the bowl with#10 x ¾” flathead wood screws.  Depending on the thickness of the faceplate, slightly longer screws may be needed.  The screws should protrude approximately ½” into the base.
  3. Attach the faceplate and the bowl assembly onto the wood lathe.
  4. Set the lathe speed at 800 RPM.
  5. Adjust the tool rest 1/8” from the bowl assembly.
  6. Turn the bowl assembly by hand to make sure it clears the tool rest.
  7. Turn on the lathe and use a gouge to round the exterior of the bowl.
  8. Periodically readjust the tool rest to maintain a 1/8” to ¼” distance from the bowl.
  9. Use a skew to smooth the bowl exterior.  The exterior diameter should be 11 ¾”.
  10. Adjust the tool rest inside the bowl and use a gouge to shape the interior.
  11. Use a round nose tool to smooth the bowl interior.  The interior diameter should be 10 ½’.
  12. Use an outside caliper to measure the thickness of the bowl.  The thickness should be approximately 5/8” when finished.
  13. Use a skew to round the top edge of the bowl.

E. Sanding Procedure:

  1. Remove the tool rest and hand sand the bowl on the lathe at 800 RPM.
  2. Use 80 grit sandpaper to rough sand the interior and exterior of the bowl, including the rounded top edge.
  3. Continue to intermediate sand the bowl with 120 grit sandpaper.
  4. Finish sand the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper.
  5. When the sanding procedure is complete use a tack rag to remove all sanding dust.

F: Finish Procedures:

  1. With the lathe in operation, use a cotton rag to apply a liberal amount of mineral oil to the bowl.
  2. Allow the mineral oil to dry for 24 hours.
  3. Remove the screws and faceplate from the bowl.
  4. Fill the screw holes with walnut wood dough and allow to dry for 12 hours.
  5. Sand the wood dough flush with the bottom of the bowl and remove any sanding dust with a tack rag.
  6. Apply a coat of mineral oil the bottom of the bowl and allow to thoroughly dry for 48 hours.

*Congratulations, your salad bowl is finished and ready to use!

Related Projects:

  • Wood Pedestal Bowl
  • Segmented Bowl
  • Wood Nut Bowl