How to make a Wooden Bowl with a Router

Any professional or amateur woodworker is quite acquainted with routing. This is a process that involves the use of a woodworking router to hollow out or “rout out” any wooden work-piece to create a decorative masterpiece or a functional tool. It is always quite exciting to create something using your hand such as making a Wooden Bowl with a Router. Every woodworker feels a sense of pride when others use what he or she has created. It is with this regard therefore that this article will cover some easy steps that can help any woodworker create a beautiful wooden bowl.

Why use a Router?

It is quite challenging to make wooden bowls without the use of lathe or carving tools. However, with the use of a hand-held router one can easily manoeuvre through the most challenging curves and come up with an excellent masterpiece. Wood-routers are versatile tools that require little skill to master. When making the bowls you can easily come up with any design you want but the main challenge may be in making a deep enough cut that will make the inside of the bowl. To solve this problem add a collet extension to the router.

Step 1 Setting up the router

Before you begin making your Wooden Bowl with a Router you need to first ensure that you have the right router in place and set up the router properly. You will either choose a plunge or a fixed base router. The general rule is that you use a router with the ability of handle the bit you will be using and the 1/2 dia shank collet extension. The extension will slip in into the collet of the router and add an extra 2-1/4 depth of cut to your router. With this in place, you will be able to quickly and easily rout deep enough and form the desired inner shape of the bowl.

Also, modify the base of the router so that it can easily be used with the bowl template that will come into the picture later on. Add a wide base and in order to do this, you will have to replace the base that comes with the router. Use a bigger auxiliary base since with this the router can ride securely within the template and will not fall through the wide opening. To get a perfect base, use a material that is strong and rigid so that it cannot flex. Also, ensure that the material is clear enough to enable you to see what you are doing when making the cuts. You can use clear acrylic or Plexiglas to achieve this.

How to build a new base:

  • Trim your base to the appropriate size
  • Draw corner to corner lines so as to identify the centre
  • With the use of the original base plate countersink, mark, drill accurately the mounting holes.
  • Cut out the centre hole using a hole saw at the drill press.

Once the mounting plate is in place, glue up a bowl blank and create the template that will act as the guide when shaping the inside of the bowl.

Step 2 The Bowl Blank and Template

It is quite fascinating to make a Wooden Bowl with a Router since you come up with many shapes and sizes. Nonetheless, irrespective of what style you prefer, the process is always the same. The first step is to glue up the bowl blank. This is very crucial since it will affect the bowl colour and appearance. You also select the wood to use and decide on your desired shape, size or any other option.

The next step is to make the blank. Trim the materials chosen to size, then apply glue to the wood layers and clamp the materials together. Most woodworker’s advise clamping to at least 3 thick. With this, you will never exceed the bit and router’s cutting depth.

You will also need to prepare a template that will guide the router when routing out the inside of the bowl. Once you have prepared this, cut out the middle of the template so that it can match up with the shape of the bowl. Using the blank screws, attach the template and you can now begin routing out the inside of your bowl.

Step 3 Shape the Bowl

This is an easy but crucial step when making the Wooden Bowl with a Router. It mainly entails two major steps: Firstly, with the use of the router and template you route out the bowl’s inner side, and Secondly cutting off the blank’s outer portion to achieve the desired final shape and size of the bowl.

Now that the blank is in place, install the collet extension and tray bit in the router. Ensure the extension and bits are properly tightened. Secure the blank for routing and you can begin routing out the inside of the bowl. You can set the bit to 3/16 deep cut and once this is done turn on the router and position it at the top of the template. As you cut away the stock you will need to use the shop vacuum to eliminate the chips from inside the bowl. Once the first pass is cleared reset the bit lower by 3/16 and again route out the second layer of material from the bowl. Do this repeatedly until the recess is cut to the desired shape with only 3/8 left at the bottom.

Once the inside of the bowl is done, shape the outer part of the bowl. You can use a band saw to do this. Once done you can complete your masterpiece by sanding using a power sander that will smoothen the rough spots. When done with this carry out some hand sanding as well and apply some mineral oil or salad bowl finish to give it a final touch.


When making a Wooden Bowl with a Router there are ideally many options to try out with respect to shapes and sizes. You can make bowls with handles, divided bowls, huge round bowl, or any other design or shape you desire. There is simply no limit to what you can do with this versatile woodworkers’ tool.

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