How to turn a bowl on a pole lathe ~ Video Series

This blog post is where you can find more information related to the series of videos I filmed with Zed on his YouTube channel about getting started with pole lathe bowl turning. You can watch all three videos here…

As mentioned in the video intro, it is my hope that the footage will help those people who are, for whatever reason, unable to get on a course with a tutor. It will also serve as a visual reference/reminder for anyone who has been on a beginner bowl turning course I will be adding to this blog and sharing more information in the near future so please sign up to my newsletter below to be notified.

I’d like to re-iterate that there really is no substitute for spending time with an experienced teacher; the subtleties of tool angles and the physical movements involved are all crucial to achieving success. Even a very slight deviation from the correct technique could lead to less than desirable results.

Any sharp edge offered up to a spinning piece of wood will remove material, but there is a world of difference between scraping and slicing. A teacher will be able to identify any adjustments which need to be made and point out what you are doing if things aren’t quite right. There are a growing number of people running courses in pole lathe bowl turning now, so getting on a workshop is getting easier all the time.


FREE lathe plans below…

This is the first time I’ve attempted to share information on a video. No doubt it will be far from perfect! A video tutorial is inevitably one-sided; as a learner you can’t ask the video questions. Questions will undoubtedly arise, and stumbling blocks are unavoidable. Please feel free to ask me any questions you have as a result of using the video tutorial.

You can contact me via my website. I will endeavor to answer any frequently asked questions about the tutorial and post the questions and my answers here for the benefit of other learners. I may also add a series of shorter videos to explain specific parts of the process in more detail, if there is a requirement for that, and where my time allows it.


Sharif Adams teaching bowl turning copy_SQ
Tool control will come with practice. Enjoy the experience of learning a new skill. Expect it to be fun but also at times frustrating, bewildering and seemingly impossible at first. With persistence and patience you will soon feel more at home behind the lathe. I hope you will enjoy the journey.
Finally I would like to say a few words of thanks. To Robin Wood for the initial inspiration which got me started turning bowls. To my friend Terence McSweeney who’s bowl turning journey started about the same time as me; I learned a lot by spending time with him. To all the lovely people who have attended my courses over the years – I learn so much each time I teach and nothing brings me more joy than the smile when someone holds up their first ever handmade wooden bowl.
To my Father who very kindly provided the lathe plans and drawings for this blog post – thanks Dad. To my partner Fern who helps me with anything web related (computers seem to malfunction whenever I get close to them). To Zed Shah for filming this series which I hope will help to spread the pole lathe bowl love far and wide. To all the turners, past, present and future. Thank you all from the bottom of my bowl-shaped heart!

Courses I Run:

Bowl Turning – My group bowl turning course dates are on my courses page here (one to one by arrangement, get in touch!)

Tool Forging – To book a forging day email me to arrange a date.

Links to lathe parts and tools I have for sale:

Lathe centres (steel spikes which the mandrel and bowl blank spin between);

Metal Centres– 18 inch diameter mild steel

Bowl Turning Hook Tools;

Hook tools

Links to items mentioned in the video:

Robin Woods book ‘The Wooden Bowl’ (UK)


The files and paper I use for sharpening the tools;

Gransfors Bruks Axe file UK:

DMT diafold conical sharpening steel (x fine)



Wet and dry paper 600 grit



Wet and dry paper 1200 grit



DMT double sided flat sharpening file, fine/x fine



The drive strap product code from Chiorino is; Product code – LL1 (7000mm long x 10mm wide) chromnylon transmission belt.



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