Recycled Skateboard Bowls

I wanted to give it a try after seeing some bowls turned from skateboard pieces. Adam has a great setup for glueing up the blanks with a bottle jack.

I needed to get one face of the blank flat before I could mount it on the lathe. I used a jointer, but a hand plane would get you close. I made sure to pre-drill since this is a big chunk of plywood edge grain after flattening that face. I mounted the piece on the lathe, set my speed to 700rpm, got my tool rest in place, and roughed out the shape. The blank was out of round and chunks of it wanted to pop off as I went.

Recycled Skateboard Bowls

When I started roughing, I was turning mostly air. I started cleaning up the bottom by facing it off and cutting a recess for my chuck jaws. I had to sneak up on the fit here as I didn’t have a lot of wiggle room before I made the walls too thin. I continued shaping the outside of the bowl until I got to the final shape. The feature of my tools is that they can be turned 45 degrees to make a shearing cut. This helps smooth out the surface of the bowl.

The outside of the bowl was sanded up to 220 using the drill-mounted sanding pad. This creates an insane amount of dust, so I wore my respirator here. With the outside of the bowl sanded, I put my chuck in the recess on the bottom of the bowl and then flipped the whole thing around and removed the faceplate.

The process of hollowing out the bowl began. Since this piece was plywood edge grain, I decided to use a 2” Forstner bit to help remove some of the waste and set my depth. I had to run the lathe at 250rpm to keep the bit from getting too hot, but I eventually got the hole drilled and was able to hollow out the bowl, which went quickly now that the center of the bowl was gone. I continued to remove material until I got an even wall thickness.

I was told where more material needed to be removed after I picked up one of these calipers. I picked up a curved tool rest recently and it made getting the bottom of the bowl much easier, although the camera wasn’t in the best spot here and I’m blocking the entire view.

The surface of the bowl was made from old skateboards and I thought a few coats of epoxy would fill any voids and give the surface a nice, even feel. I applied too much epoxy and it was too cold in my shop. I had a lot of drips and sags, and the epoxy didn’t self-level as well. I had to remove all of it and try again, this time using a thinner coat and some warm water to warm it up. I was left with a close to perfect surface after applying two thin coats.

I wanted to level the surface and buff it out to a more even gloss, so I left it exactly how it was. The first thing I did was to level out the foam pad, and then I did the hand sanding. I got an idea from watching the bowl-turning video, the last thing to deal with was the bottom of the bowl. Ben included some thinner pieces that were perfect for this, and I laser-cut a piece to cover up the inside of the recess. I put the piece in with CA glue and then poured it on a thin layer of epoxy to finish it.

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