Epoxy Wire & Wood Bowl

In Tutorial by jackmanworks@gmail.com

This bowl is a wedding present for my sister and brother-in-law. The base of this bowl is made from spalted beech from a fallen branch off of a 120 year old beech tree. I had a busted ethernet cable that I ripped open and embedded in a two-part epoxy (he is an electrical engineer). The top segmented rings are made from poplar pallet wood and reclaimed mahogany deck balusters.

■ Music by Private Island: http://soundcloud.com/privateisland/drugs
■ Milliput: http://amzn.to/2dzf9sc
■ Micro-mesh sanding pads: http://amzn.to/2cFICLm
■ More project photos: http://imgur.com/gallery/6O9qE


Build Details

I start with the base of the bowl. This log is the branch of an old beech tree that has some spectacular spalting inside.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t get my chainsaw started and I was on a time crunch, so I had to cut the log down with the “overcompensation blade” in my sawzall.

There she is, ready for the lathe! Cut down to 10″ tall. Rub that wood, Jackman.

I attach the face-plate as close to center as I can determine from the funky shape.

With my chainsaw not working and the piece being too large to fit in my bandsaw, I had to take down the corners with a hammer and chisel.

Once it’s as balanced as I can get it, I start roughing it out. It starts off pretty bouncy!

I decided it was too tall for what I wanted, so I scored it on the lathe and then cut it down on the bandsaw with the table at a slight tilt.

I remount the piece to the lathe and round off the bottom of the bowl. Once I’m satisfied with the shape, I cut out a hole to mount the chuck in.

I remove the piece from the face-plate and mount it to the chuck, then remount this to the lathe for hollowing.

Here is the roughed out bowl. I decided it needs a little more flair however, like a typical Jackman build.

I use my wedgie sled on my table saw to cut rings both for a form and also for a few segmented rings.

I glue 24 segments in a line and apply glue to all of the joints.

Then it’s just a matter of rapping them up in a ring until they dry.

Same thing with the segmented rings.

The segmented forms are hot glued down to a piece of melamine. Need to make sure that this is sealed up 100% because epoxy is going to be poured between the two rings.

I had this broken ethernet cable saved in case I had a cool idea for it. I chopped it down into random lengths and pulled the wire cover off of it.

Now that’s a cool texture, these will be perfect!

I mix up some 2-part epoxy and pour it into the form.

I then stuff all of the pieces of the ethernet wires into the form with the epoxy.

A few wires wrangled free. I did this form in a few pours to make it easier for the bubbles to escape and also to keep it from getting too hot. Curing epoxy is an exothermic reaction, so if this was all poured at once it would give off a ton of heat and be likely to cure too quickly and probably crack.

I use the disk sander in my lathe to flatten down the top of the bowl…

And the segmented rings…

And once the epoxy ring is cured, I flatten down both sides of that too.

First glue-up is done by attaching the 3 segmented rings together.

While that dries, I use milliput (a 2 part epoxy putty) to fill in any cracks that formed in the bowl.

Second glue-up is done when the segments and epoxy putty are dry and cured. To attach the bowl, epoxy ring, and segmented rings together, I use some more 2-part epoxy.

Time to mount this ugly beast to the lathe!

Luckily it’s a pretty clean process. (ㆆ_ㆆ)
I shape down the outside of the bowl first. The epoxy is very hard, so you have to take it really slow compared to the rest of the bowl… at least the epoxy noodles are fun though.

This is after forming the outside down to shape and rough sanding it. Looks pretty ugly at this point still, but I can start to see my vision.

I then do the same on the inside of the bowl and form that to shape keeping the wall thickness to about 1/2″.

More epoxy noodles on the inside. It takes some time to get this down to shape, but the exposed wires are starting looking cool at this point. Luckily the wires are copper, so they are soft enough to cut with the carbide tools.

I rough sand the inside and outside of the bowl all the way up to about 600 grit.

The wood is nice and shiny at this point, but the epoxy is still foggy. I use micromesh sanding pads to fix that – these range from 1500 up to 12000 grit. Once you get to the highest grit, you can really see into the epoxy to see the wires.

I applied finish at this point, which is a linseed oil / beeswax mix. I put a few coats of this on and buff it to a satin finish.

I engrave the name of the bride/groom and date of the wedding on the bottom of the bowl.

I also insert a wood medallion with my logo in the hole that was used to mount the bowl to the chuck because: #branding (plus it looks better).