Upcycle: turn a plank into a bowl

Plywood bowl side viewWhen I found a piece of neglected plywood lying around in the workshop, I decided to try and do my bit for recycling, and turn it into a bowl.

After trimming the offcut round to an 11″ diameter disk (28 cm), I mounted it on the lathe, sharpened my chisels, and proceeded to cut rings off the disk, making each cut at 45 degrees through the 3/4″ thick (19 mm) SPF plywood. The letters SPF, which you will see often on plywood or construction lumber, stand for Spruce-Pine-Fir. As in to say that the article may contain one or more of the following ingredients, whatever got delivered to the sawmill that day.

To help visualize, here’s how the rings are cut from the disk and stacked:

plank bowl cutting diagram

From top to bottom:

  • side view of the disk
  • a view of the ring cuts
  • the rings are shown stacked in reverse order to make the plank into a bowl

The disk is shown at the side as a reminder that it’s a circular shape.

It was a multi-day activity, first cutting all the rings, then gluing the rings together into a bowl shape, then clamping it all for the glue to set overnight and taking some time off from all that cutting action.

Time to mount the crude bow back onto the lathe and set it spinning. Using a sharp chisel, even out and straighten the edges both inside and out. Some final sanding to make it all smooth, then apply some clear lacquer.

Plywood bowl top view

About 4.5″ tall (12 cm), the repeat-pattern, laminated and turned bowl is now sitting pretty on the coffee table. It is very light – and as with many turnings – it needs to be weighed up in the hand to be appreciated.


  1. Ja, dat is op de tekening wel te zien, maar het zijn zoveel ringen aan de binnenkant… mooi effect hoor

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