Walnut bowl + jatoba lid with dragonfly inlay

My daughter asked for a bowl for her birthday. I was of course up to the challenge :slight_smile: I had a bowl for shaving soap she liked, so I used that as a ballpark reference. I went for this sort of “sun ray” design on the bottom for no real reason.


I cut the bottom first, and used the same trick I used on my chess set where I machine in a cylindrical nub and later put that in my drill press for sanding.

My approach for the second side was to cut off the nub and sand flat, then glue it to a piece of plywood to hold in my Saunders machining vice (a fairly recent addition which I just love).

For the lid, she sent me a dragonfly image she found and when I converted to SVG, I got both an “inner” and “outer” contour due to the thick lines. I ran with this and tried something new. I first inlaid cocobolo or rosewood (I forget which) according to the very outer contour. Then I re-machined the inner contour “pockets” and we did maple for the wings and she mixed up epoxy + blue metallic pigment for the body. I think it turned out wonderfully.

I don’t have a picture with just the dark wood in, but here it is after re-machining the pockets.

Maple wings cut and inlaid:

Epoxy poured, cured, and faced clean.

Finish is epoxy on the inside (she has curly hair and wants to keep coconut oil in here) and Odie’s oil on the outside after sanding to 2000. I put magnets in the bowl and lid. I love the feel, but maybe would see about setting them just a hair deeper and inlaying something on top next time to hide them? It creates a cool feel where if you twist a little, the lid comes right off. When you put it back, you just spin it until it “whumps” right into place.

Glamour shots:

Pictures don’t due justice to the grain of this walnut, but here’s an attempt:


Bonus safety stories

I thought I’d add two stories here related to the bowl. I was machining the inside of the [first] bowl late one night and my wife came out to say she thought it was too loud and I should close the service door. The window was also open and as she was leaving, I turned to see if she could close it since I was holding the shop vac hose to pull away the chips.

Right as I turned, the bit came around to do it’s thing and bumped the shop vac hard plastic end while I wasn’t looking. The machine lost some steps and…

Nothing like making two bowls! No biggie though, I thankfully had more wood, and of all things that can happen, bumping a shop vac hose isn’t the worst. It was just nuts because I think I turned around for all of 1.73 (repeating of course) seconds. Just sharing as a reminder toward vigilance/respect for the machine.

Second story was more dangerous and I felt really stupid for it. I had machined out the inside the night before, the bowl was just looking sweet and I was too excited/rushed the next morning in my strategy to get that plywood block off the bottom. I thought to cut it on the bandsaw and in hindsight, I literally have no idea what I was thinking.

Of course cutting a cylindrical thing vertically is an awful idea. Of course if I still chose that method I should have been thinking about material support or clamping it to something else. But I didn’t. Probably 5 seconds into the cut, the blade yanked the whole thing right out of my hands, slammed it onto the table and bounced it onto the garage floor. My heart didn’t stop racing for quite a bit, both over wondering if I’d ruined another many days of work and realizing I could have had my hands pulled along with the bowl with how violent/fast things happened.

The bowl had a good gash in her, but that was about it. I masked off the area, built up a tall “dam” with hot glue, and filled with epoxy + black dye.

All said, it’s now just some “character” on the bowl.

Anyway, it’s unfortunate to learn these things first hand, though I’m sure it will change how I think of the bandsaw each time I step up to it. Hopefully these stories help others and I think it’s good to share mistakes. Thanks for reading!


That looks great! Well done!

1 Like

This topic was automatically closed 30 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.