Why Buy it When You Can Make it? Check Out How One Man Made a Secret Wood Bowl!

Why go to the store and buy something when you can make it? And we’re not just talking about handcrafting shelves, tables and bookcases, but other, more specialized items… like bowls. Yes, the DIY movement is alive and well these days, with more and more Americans trying to understand how things are actually made – and then trying to make it themselves before they run off to the store and buy it. Most find the experience of creating their own item rewarding and personally gratifying. They’re also more likely to value said item. This was recently the case for DIY’er Peter Brown. He wanted to make a bowl – but not just any bowl, a special secret wooden bowl (also often referred to as “wood with resin” bowls) with a translucent resin. Check out the step-by-step process that Brown took to create the terrific final product.

1. It All Started With Walnut

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Peter Brown picked up some nice walnut material, but he initially didn’t know what he wanted to do with it right away. The pieces of the material sat on a storage shelf for a while. Then, he saw a purpose for them. He saw the ideal project for them.

2. Cutting it Up

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Brown took the walnut into his shop and started by cutting the material into thin strips about 1 inch wide.

3. Cutting Board? Or Something Else?

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After putting the strips through a thickness planner, then placing all of the strips together, Brown realized that they would have made for a good walnut cutting board and he could have stopped right there and just glued all the strips together. But he had other ideas.

4. Why Not a Bowl?

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A cutting board would have been nice, but Brown wanted to make a bowl. Specifically, a secret wood bowl, which consists of handmade wooden rings and specialty resin. To start the bowl-making process, Brown got to have some fun. He was going to get to bust out the sledgehammer.

5. Tools Required

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A special bowl was going to take some special tools. Aside from a table saw and thickness planner, Brown was also going to need the aforementioned sledgehammer, a mold, a cutting jig, band saw, a hollowing tool, sanding tools and finishing tools. Brown had all of these tools on hand in his workshop.

6. Materials Required

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In addition to all the tools, various materials were going to be required to complete the bowl as well. Brown already had the walnut material, but a key ingredient was due later in the project – resin. Yes, lots and lots of resin.

7. Smash it Up

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After clamping each strip of walnut, Brown used a sledgehammer to bash the strips into smaller pieces until he had lots of smaller pieces of walnut. While this was an important step in the process, we’d imagine it’s also a good way to take out any feelings of aggression. It looks like Brown was having a good time smashing things up. 

8. Make the Mold

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A DIY project calls for a DIY mold. To create the mold to glue all of the smaller crushed up pieces of walnut in, Brown simply lined a small cardboard box with packaging tape and placed the pieces of smashed up walnut inside of it. Talk about a cool project hack. Creating this sort of mold wasn’t only easy, but time-saving.

9. Pouring the Resin

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Donning protective work gloves, the next step consisted of pouring resin with the epoxy pigment into the makeshift mold. Before the resin is poured, however, Brown was careful to ensure that it was well mixed so it would work properly. Brown mixed the resin for about two minutes.

10. Lots and Lots of Resin

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It was a bit more resin than what Brown wanted to use, but it was the best option considering the project. The resin doesn’t smell great, so Brown advises opening up a window for ventilation and/or wearing a mask to avoid direct inhalation. The resin was able to successfully join all of the small walnut pieces together.

11. More Resin

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Next up, more resin! Brown mixed up about 30 ounces of total polyester resin, which was colored with the epoxy pigment.

12. And Even More Resin

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Pouring this resin was more of a meticulous process, as it could be only poured in 12-ounce segments. Brown administered it over the course of two days. He says the best time to add a new layer into the mold is when the previous layer turned into a jelly-like state. The goal was to add enough resin to create a neat swirling effect on the rings.

13. Resin Curing

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Why did Brown need to pour the resin in 12-ounce increments over two days’ worth of time? It all had to do with the curing process. For instance, once a layer is poured, Brown had to allow it to cure before pouring the subsequent layer. When it was all said and done, the final mold was about 4 inches deep, a depth that Brown was plenty content with in terms of creating the bowl.

14. The Perils of Improper Resin Curing

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Failure to properly pour and allow the resin to cure would result in cracking from overheating during the other steps of the project.

15. Ready for Bowl Transformation

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Here’s a look at the resin after curing for two days. It’s now ready to be turned into the secret wood bowl. Now the real fun can begin.

16. Step 1: Remove the Corners

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Bowls are round, not square – so Brown had to remove the corners from the cured resin first. He accomplished this using a circular cutting jig and a band saw. Doing this would greatly speed up the turning process. He hung onto the removed corners of the mold to use for a future project.

17. Step 2: Turn it

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It’s not a particularly easy task to turn an 8-inch bowl with lots of polyester resin. Using a sharp tool and an ever-steady hand, Brown turned it, being careful not to allow the brittle resin to chip out during the process.

18. Post Turning

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Here’s a look at the bowl after the turning process had been completed. Brown says he thought about keeping the wooden spikes but ultimately decided against it due to the potential distraction they could pose from the rest of the bowl.

19. Step 3: Hollowing Out the Bowl

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On a bowl made entirely from wood, hollowing out the mold would have taken about 15 minutes. With so much resin, however, it’s a much more laborious process. Brown says it took him an hour to complete. The effort was well worth it, though.

20. Step 4: Clean Up and Sand

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Using carbide tools, Brown then cleaned up the bowl. First, it was time for sanding. Using 120 grit paper and gradually working his way up to types that were finer and finer, Brown smoothed out the curves and was able to remove the tool marks on the bowl. Here’s a look at the bowl after Brown sanded it to 800 grit.

21. Step 5: Polish

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After sanding comes polishing to really give the bowl the nice finished look. Brown used polishing pads and then plastic polish to accomplish this task.

22. The End Result

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Finally, the project was complete, and the end result is nothing short of remarkable.

23. Two Days Well Spent

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The secret wood bowl wasn’t the easiest DIY project. It took some creativity, lots of resin, the right tools and patience and persistence to complete. In the end, Brown was happy with the end result.

24. Wood Bowl with a Translucent Resin

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The mixture of resin and walnut makes for not only a sturdy structure but for a very attractive one. It can be used for a variety of purposes, aside from just decoration.

25. DIY to New Heights

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DIY, or do it yourself, projects are becoming more and more popular. And while some are easier to carry out than others, Brown’s project is a neat step-by-step demo of how to create a secret wood bowl you can be exceptionally proud of. For a more detailed look at Brown’s creation of the secret wood bowl, check out the YouTube video he made describing the process here.

Thanks for enjoying the article! If you want to try some DIY projects of your own you can now access over 16,000 woodworking plans. Ted’s Woodworking plans have step-by-step instructions, photos and diagrams to make every project laughably easy. Watch this video to gain full access.

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