North East Chapter – Irish Woodturners Guild

September 2017

We invited Joe Laird to our September meeting to demonstrate the procedures involved in turning his unique ‘shamrock bowl’ which consisted of 3 interlocking bowls resembling a shamrock leaf.  Starting with a beech circular blank measuring 50 mm x 200 mm mounted in button jaws, he flattened the back and then the face using pull cuts with a long swept back grind gouge, and finished off the process with the skew in horizontal mode with the handle well down. 


tn_Joe Laird preparing 3 chucking points

Joe Laird preparing 3 chucking points


Marking out the bowls requires precise accuracy.  First, mark dead centre, mark a line through the centre point orientated with the grain, and continue the lines onto the end grain sides.  Use the following 3 stage procedure to find the centre point of the 3 bowls:- 

1.  Set compass at 80 mm - inscribe circle to define a 20 mm rim. 

2.  Set compass at 40 mm – inscribe an inner circle. 

3.  Retaining the 40 mm setting, place the point of the compass at the point where the bottom of the inner circle crosses the centre line – score the inner circle right and left: this will locate the centre points of 2 bowls.  The centre of the 3rd bowl will be at the point where the top of the inner circle crosses the centre line: this will be the top bowl of the shamrock.  Still retaining the 40 mm radius draw in the perimeters of the 3 bowls. 



tn_Marking centre of 3 shamrock bowlsIMG_0216

Marking centre of 3 shamrock bowls



Next procedure is to drill the 3 bowl centres to a fixed dept for mounting on a screw chuck in preparation for off-centre turning the 3 recesses on the base, 60 mm x 5 mm. 


Reverse chuck and lightly define the edge of the bowl with a narrow parting tool before hollowing out the 1st bowl, cutting to the bottom of the screw chuck mark.  Joe emphasized the importance of engaging the bevel before starting each cut and taking light cuts during off-centre turning.  He also recommended sanding the bowl at the 4 o’clock position to avoid catching overlapping edge of previous bowl before moving on to the next bowl.   


To prepare the stem of the shamrock, mount the bowls between steb centre and ring centre at 16 mm from the face on the original centre line that was extended to the end grain.  Again, this will be slightly off-centre turning.  Cut an 80 mm wide recess at the tailstock end leaving the central stem. 


Remount in button jaws to shape back and to remove the 3 chucking recesses and the steb chucking points.  Finally cut a fine 125 mm slightly concave base and decorate the centre.  


tn_Joe Laird with his Beech Shamrock bowl IMG_0233

Joe Laird with his Beech Shamrock bowl



Thanks Joe for making such a challenging project look so repeatable. 


Thanks to Seamus Cassidy for his critique on the following exhibits:


tn_Arbutus rolled rim bowl - Cecil Barron IMG_0226 

Macra Capra rolled rim bowl  – Cecil Barron:



tn_Elm platter - Cecil Barron IMG_0223 

18” Elm platter – Cecil Barron: 



tn_Lignum Vitae - Peter Donagh IMG_0227 

Lignum Vitae bowl - Peter Donagh.