I was thinking about making some walnut bowls as Christmas gifts. I have not turned a bowl since high school, which was some 40 years ago. I would like to know what type of glue to use to attach the blank to the mounting block, and is there a ratio between blank size and faceplate size I should be aware of? – John Klei
Chris Marshall: I use a four-jaw metal chuck for mounting bowl blanks, but in our June 2006 print issue (page 20), expert turner Betty Scarpino wrote the very article you need to read for mounting bowl blanks with glue blocks. I’ll cut to the chase for you: She says that a 3- or 4-in.-diameter faceplate is sufficiently large for turning bowls up to about 14 inches. She recommends using a mounting block at least 1 inch larger in diameter than the faceplate, made of 2-in.-thick fir, poplar or maple. Don’t use plywood, as the layers can separate during turning. Fasten the faceplate to the mounting block with screws that nearly, if not completely, fill the faceplate holes and penetrate 3/4 in. into the mounting block. You can use ordinary yellow wood glue to attach the bowl blank to the mounting block, but be sure to clamp the parts together to create a tight joint. Alternately, gap-filling cyanoacrylate (CA) glue also works well for this job, and she says you don’t need to spritz it with accelerator. Just dampen the contact surface with water, rub it to create a bit of heat and press the two parts together firmly. It should set quickly — in less than a minute. Make sure that both the mounting block and bowl blank surfaces are clean, flat and smooth before gluing them together. She recommends using an “ample” amount of either type of glue to create a sturdy bond, but not so much that it squeezes out. Wait overnight for yellow glue to fully cure or at least 15 minutes for CA before mounting the assembly on the lathe for turning.