Making a Five-Sided Bowl

Step by Step

Making a Five-Sided Bowl

Use this ringed vessel to hold bread, keys, coins, or other miscellany

By Dave Van Ess

As a scroller, I like making bowls with shapes that wood turners could never duplicate. This is one such bowl. It has five sides that gently transition to corners. It is fun to watch a turner ponder how it was made and then ask, Did you turn this?

The build is not difficult and can be made with wood easily found in your local lumberyard, hardware store, or home improvement center. This bowl only requires a small amount of wood and, with only four cuts, is easily completed in an afternoon. Brush with a few coats of your favorite finish and voila—you’ve made an elegant (and affordable) housewarming gift or serving vessel!  

Getting Started

Choose a variety of wood (click here for Tip). Attach the pattern with repositionable spray adhesive.

Cutting and Assembling the Bowl

Step 1

Cut the pieces. To reduce the amount of sanding, you will want to set the table angle as exactly as possible; for a 3/4″ (1.9cm)-thick piece, set the angle to 19°. If you prefer the pilot hole method to the ring-cutting method (click here), drill a pilot hole on each ring line using a drill or rotary tool and a #56 wire size bit. Then cut the rings and base on a scroll saw. 


Pilot Holes or Ring Cuts?

When cutting rings for bowls or baskets, you have two choices: either use a pilot hole to cut the inner edge of the ring, or slice through the ring to make the inner cuts. Each method has its pros and cons. Use whichever technique you like most!

Pilot Hole Method
This method does not disrupt the grain pattern and gives the most attractive results. 

Disadvantages: A shop-made angle guide is needed for accurate drilling of the pilot hole, and additional sanding is required for its complete removal. 

Ring-Cutting Method
This technique is simpler, requiring no additional equipment or sanding. 

Disadvantages: The rings must be glued back together, and vertical cut marks will be left on both sides of the bowl; they cannot be removed by sanding. 


Step 2

Glue the rings back together. Note: This only applies if you chose the ring-cutting method. My glue of choice is RapidFuse wood adhesive. It is a clear modified cyanoacrylate (CA) glue formulated specifically for wood. It is water-resistant and easy to sand, and will not affect most stains or finishes. Secure with spring clamps while drying. Flatten the top and bottom of each ring ring with a 180-grit shop-made sanding tile. Dry-assemble the bowl to check for any gaps between rings, and sand away any remaining gaps.



Step 3

Assemble the bowl. Start with the top ring, face down, and add a bead of wood glue, spreading it thinly along the gluing edge. Add the second ring and press down the assembly with a heavy book, or in a bowl press. When dry, add the third ring and follow the same method; adding the rings one by one decreases the likelihood that they will slide and become misaligned. Do not add the bottom yet. 


Step 4

Sand the interior. I used a sleeveless drum sander and regular sandpaper sheets rather than sleeves. Sand to 220-grit. Wipe off dust with a tack cloth, and then glue on the bottom of the bowl. Weight it down and check for squeeze-out. Let dry.



Step 5

Sand the exterior. I used 220-grit disc in a flexible pad sander to ensure clean, smooth lines from top to base, but you could use a belt sander, if desired. Depending on your desired finish, more sanding may be necessary later. Round over the edges of the bowl rim and base. 


Finishing the Bowl

Sand the bowl to 400-grit, vacuum away all dust from the surface and apply a few coats of Howard Wax-It-All; it’s a mixture of mineral oil, beeswax, and carnauba wax. You could leave the bowl unfinished and allow it to develop a natural patina, if desired. Apply the wax liberally, let sit for 20 minutes, and then wipe off. Apply a second coat as before, buff with a piece of a brown paper bag, and you’re done!


Getting Thrifty 

One cost-cutting alternative for sourcing materials is to use a piece of #1 1×8 pine, available at most local home centers. You could also choose a common #2 piece and cut around the bad spots. 




• Wood, such as pine, 3/4″ (1.9cm) thick: approx. 7″ x 7 1/4″ (17.8cm x 18.4cm) 

• Spray adhesive: repositionable 

• Sandpaper: assorted grits to 400

• Glue: wood, cyancolate (CA)

• Food-safe finish, such as Howard Wax-It-All or shellac

• Tack cloth

• Brown paper bag


• Scroll saw with blades: #5 skip-tooth

• Spring clamps: small

• Drill or rotary tool with bit: #56 wire size (optional)

• Bowl press, clamps, or heavy weight 

• Sanders: sleeveless drum, 1″ (25mm)-dia., 3″ (76mm)
long; flexible pad, 3″ (76mm)-dia.: assorted grit discs 

• Vacuum



About the Author

Dave Van Ess is a retired engineer living in Chandler, Ariz. He has been woodworking for 45 years and scrolling for 35. He is a past president of the Arizona Woodworkers (a greater Phoenix area woodworking club) and volunteers his time and resources to providing wood projects for kids. Email him at


  Purchase our summer issue!

Purchase Our Summer Issue Here!

For more articles like these, subscribe to Scroll Saw Woodworking & Crafts magazine.


Plus! Get mini magazines in your e-mail between printed issues with Short Cuts, our e-mail newsletter.

Subscribe to Short Cuts