150 – Bowl Turning Tools & Techniques w/ David Marks

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On a recent visit with my friend and mentor, David Marks, we decided to make a little video together. Initially the idea was to simply show David my video production process. But as things started to progress, I knew we had the makings of a great video and this was something I wanted to share with the woodworking community.

The goal was simple: let’s turn a bowl! But as easy as that sounds, properly filming a bowl turning from start to finish can be quite tricky with just a few hours to play with. I had to catch a plane that evening and this was something of a last-minute idea. But we managed to pull it off, amazingly.

Anyone who has worked with David knows that the man is a perfectionist by definition. He regularly achieves a level of quality that I can only hope to some day match. So with David Marks, even a “quick and dirty” bowl deserves a perfect spherical profile, an absolutely tearout-free finish, and a crisp decorative band. And forcing him to produce a David Marks creation under those conditions proved to be a challenge and an important learning experience for me. When David works, there is really only one way to do things: to the best of his abilities. So there’s really no such thing as “good enough”. Its either done properly or its not. This is something I really admire.

David shows you a number of tools and techniques in this video. You’ll see some of the more standard options like the bowl gouge, the parting tool, and the pyramid point tool, as well as some interesting offerings from Easy Wood Tools. In this video, David shows the Easy Rougher and The Easy Finisher. You can purchase the Easy Wood Tools, including the David J. Marks Pro Series featuring beautiful Bubinga handles at David?s website. The advantage of buying the David J. Marks Pro Series in addition to getting a signed bubinga handle, is that the handles are longer than the standard Easy Wood Tools which gives them better leverage.

I hope you enjoy this special episode. Maybe this will help fill in the gap left by my severe lack of turning content! And for those of you who miss the good old days of Woodworks, this is going to be a real treat!

Categories: On the Road, Projects, Techniques


  1. Arnold June 14, 2011

    I miss WoodWorks…

  2. Frank M June 14, 2011

    I really enjoyed the video. David is a true master. I miss his former Woodworks show. thanks for the treat!

  3. I can see what David meant about not really feeling comfortable when filming Woodworks. He seems a lot more relaxed and enjoying himself here.

    I’m attending his marquetry and inlay class at the end of July. Can’t wait!

    • Hey Erik,
      Great to hear that you will be taking my Marquetry and Inlay class at the end of July. I am certain that you will have a great time and learn allot.
      I look forward to having you in my class next month and I’ll have plenty of really interesting woods as well as design ideas for you to work with.
      take care,

  4. Greg June 14, 2011


    Would you ask Mr. Marks if he would submit a photograph to your podcast so we could see the end result?

    Another great video.


  5. Nateswoodworks June 14, 2011

    Man do I miss his show (thank goodness for DIY’s website) but he does seem happier now. Thanks for the awesome video and like Greg said it would be nice to see the finished project.

  6. Justin June 14, 2011

    Great stuff as always! I agree on missing Woodworks. I have a few saved and watch them often!

    • Jay June 15, 2011

      This is a re-post, but I would highly advocate bookmarking the following link if you don’t have it already. There are many David Marks episodes already archived. You can expand your repertoire from those you have saved to include these!


      Happy woodworking!

      • Justin June 16, 2011

        Done! Thanks Jay and Thanks David and Marc for all you do!

  7. Glenn Folley June 14, 2011


    Makes me want to get a lathe and have some fun with it. Hope you get a picture of the finished bowl to post.


  8. Bob June 15, 2011

    It is always great to see David Marks; Wood Works was truly inspirational to me. He looks to be happy doing what he loves and sharing his knowledge.

    Thanks Marc for making this video.

  9. Man, that makes me miss Woodworks soooo much. I was fortunate enough to spend three days in David’s workshop one on one, and it was like three days in woodworkers heaven. If you have been thinking about learning with him, DO IT! I hope to get back there one day.

    • Hey Yaakov,
      Thank you for the kind thoughts. I really enjoyed our 3 day class together.
      I have been looking at your blog posts from time to time and you are doing some really fine work ! I have read some of your posts in response to turning classes with Lyle Jamieson and I would agree with Lyle that you can sometimes be to hard on yourself. Of course I recognize this because I am very hard on myself as well. We all need to push ourselves a little beyond our comfort limits in order to excel, although we need to balance this with the reality of working safely, and keeping the rest our lives (family etc ) in check. Gustav Stickley said it most succinctly ” The Life So Short, The Craft So Long To Learn “. So , keep going to the shop and your work will keep getting better.

      take care,


    • mark williams June 16, 2011


      Pretty sweet when David Marks says he reads your blog, I just started checking it out and I can see why!

  10. What a timely video. I turned my first bowl this week and I it was pretty fun. I’m looking forward to trying it more.

  11. Marc, that is some amazing stuff there. I think a video from DJ on his finishing would be an awesome addition to your website. I would love to learn how he does it. Too bad I live on the east coast, I’d love to attend his classes.

  12. Pinto June 15, 2011

    Watching that wood turn was almost hypnotic.

  13. Tomfoolery June 15, 2011

    I miss the show as well – maybe we can suggest someone just follow David around and video blog his working life!

    I have taken some classes from David as well as encourage others to take advantage if at all possible!


  14. Bill Akins June 15, 2011

    Excellant video. Love the bowl. I would like to see the ending and the finished bowl. I have been turning bowls for a couple of years now and try to soak up as much info as possible. David Marks has so mych to offer, a true master. Now we only need to get Mark to turn us a bowl.

  15. Dave June 15, 2011

    Great video. It’s nice to see some new content featuring David. His designs and attention to detail are incredible.

  16. Danny June 15, 2011

    Great job, Marc. Made me nostalgic for Woodworks!

  17. Daniel P. June 15, 2011

    Nice to see DJ Marks again. Turning looks fun. I think some instruction on how to do some of those finishing techniques would be super cool.

  18. Rob Lopez June 15, 2011

    So good to see David on video again.

    He would do really well podcasting,

    “Whisper” in his ear Marc, we need as much podcasts from the great ones as we can get!

    Thanks for another fine video.

  19. I really enjoyed that Marc. Such a simple shape but it looked awesome. He’s a fantastic artist and craftsman, I’m a big fan of his turned and patinated work. Hope to see more from David in the future. One day I’ll take a class, tell him to look me up if he’s ever in the UK!

  20. MarkinPhx June 15, 2011

    Hey Marc, how about getting David to join Woodtalk online sometime as a guest host with you and the guys?

  21. Lone_Wolf June 15, 2011

    Marc, It was great to see David with some new content. He really does seem more relaxed. You must bring out the best in him. Thanks for sharring!

    We are still waiting for Nicole to turn something. Most of us have given up on waiting on you to turn, anything.. ;)

  22. jason June 15, 2011

    wow. so much more relaxed and conversational. he was great on tv but i’m a little amazed at how much better he is in this format.

    more please..

    • Hi Jason,
      Thanks for your comments. When I did “Woodworks” I had a crew of 5 people that were very restrictive and controlling. They needed to keep the time of each episode to “exactly 20 minutes”, not 7 seconds over or under so that the ten minute slot for commercials was there. This as you can imagine made for rather “tense” working conditions.
      While I am very grateful for the exposure it gave me, I’m also glad to be back to my relaxed self again. Also I don’t have to cut my hair and shave like the contract mandated and I can wear short sleeved shirts again cause you guys really don’t care if I have a tattoo!!!!!

      Of course I have to give credit to my good friend Marc’s video talents and his relaxed manner of directing. Marc’s skills are quite admirable and I hope all of you folks appreciate how hard this guy works to bring you so much information under one roof.

      Thanks for watching !


  23. Marie June 15, 2011

    I have taken some turning classes with David and yes he is very different from Woodworks show personna. He’s very engaging and has a great gift to explain and demo details. I loved this video, hope to see more of this collective effort. thx

    • Hello Marie,

      Great to see you here on Marc’s Forum ! Thank you so much for all of the nice things you wrote.

      I hope that your woodturning is coming along really well.
      You can always send an email to me if you have any trouble spots.

      take care,


  24. Harold June 15, 2011

    A suggestion:
    since you already own a Powermatic lathe why don’t you and Nicole take up turning and make a series of podcasts showing us the learning curve. There is an awful lot of stuff involved in turning so it could make a number of podcasts.

  25. Loved the DIY popup fonts!

    Hyster-i-cal! Met David once in town. An genuinely nice guy.

  26. Rick June 15, 2011

    This was great – because he had some great production, it was like the best of both worlds – an at home mentor with great tools to teach with!!

    Great job, Marc/Marks

    Well, ALMOST a good play on words.

    Hmmm . . . yeah, I’ll quit trying that!


  27. You know I loved it!

  28. Andy Gartzke June 15, 2011

    This was a great, short video – made me realize how much I miss Woodworks! I can only hope that the stuff you were sharing with David translates into some more regular video content from him. I think I can speak for a few others in asking you to pass along a message to David: “We want more (please)!”

    And of course, thank you for taking the time to engage David with the video process. It was worth the glimpse of future possibilities.


    • Hey Andy,
      Thanks so much for all of your comments.
      Marc has been very kind to take me on as his “apprentice”, sort of a reversal of fortune as he was once my apprentice to woodworking many years ago. He gave up several days of his very busy schedule to fly out to Ca ( and this is a guy who hates flying !!!) to teach me how to self shoot and edit. I have been struggling with this process for a long time ( you think woodworking has a long learning curve , man try teaching a stone age guy like me who has only begun to learn how to operate a computer !!!!!!!

      I am hopeful that at some point ( soon I hope ) that I will have acquired enough skill to self shoot and self edit my own Independent line of educational DVD’s that I will market from my website djmarks.com

      Just as Yaakov ( see Yaakov’s blog “Artisan’s Call ) I need to have patience with my learning curve and eventually I (and hopefully you ) will see the results.

      We will keep you posted……

      take care,


  29. Donnie Gaskin June 15, 2011

    A true woodworkers sensei.

  30. After watching this I totally started going back through and re-watching all the woodworks episodes. Are there ever going to be DVD’s offered? :(

    • Hello Nik,
      Thanks for your interest in “Woodworks DVDs” . I have been working on a licensing deal with DIY and we are hopeful that we can make this a reality soon. Back in 2001, I began shooting under my first contract with them. They renewed the contract two more times for a grand total of Ninety One episodes which we completed by the end of 2003. If you watch the entire series ,it is like a full education in advanced woodworking.
      I will let Marc know when we arrive at the stage of having media available and I’m sure he will be glad to announce it on his site. I have a free newsletter that you can sign up for at my site djmarks.com and we will announce it in our newsletter first.

      thanks for watching and we will keep you posted,


      • Nik,

        I highly recommend David’s newsletter. It’s very well written and formatted, I believe by his wife, Victoria. While I wait to be able to fit a class into my schedule, I get to read his responses to problems other woodworkers are encountering. Very good material.

        • Hey Vic,
          Glad to hear that you are enjoying our newsletter. Yes my wife Victoria does work very hard writing it and we try to answer as many questions as possible. It’s always nice to read some responses and know that it is helpful. Feel free to write in with a question sometime. In the meantime , enjoy all of the great work that Marc and Nicole do here for the woodworking community.

          take care,


  31. Hey Marc, David Marks’ last comment makes me think that might be an interesting video post for you to cover.

    The making of a woodworking video, a brief how-to and/or behind the scenes discussion on the planning, hardware, and software tools you use to create your videos.

    I know a good thing when I see it… clearly this is the future for woodworking and other DIY shows. I love watching the woodsmith series on cable, but those guys have got to get rid of their script writers!!! Very un-natural and stiff delivery by great woodworkers that are not really actors.

    Keep up the good work Marc and Mark… this is the future!

  32. I have some of Craig’s Easy Wood tools, and I think they are fantastic (mine are pre-David Marks versions). Great video collaboration guys.


  33. Great video! I have watched some of your shows on the web and have found them great! I am looking forward to seeing more videos! Good luck!

  34. Peter June 17, 2011

    Truly enjoyable video and persona. Turning has been a frontier I have yet to explore, but videos like this give me the bug…

    I also agree with the other posters that Mr. Marks seems so much more “in his skin” and relaxed than on Woodworks (though I always loved those as well!!!). Am I the only one who noticed the “leaves” inlayed? Perhaps a key to understanding his more relaxed persona? :)

    Looking forward to Mr. Marks making more videos with his newfound technological expertise.

    Thanks Mark and Marc!

  35. Boj June 17, 2011

    It doesn’t seem that difficult !!!
    I thougt it was more difficult

  36. J Smith June 17, 2011

    As with so many woodworkers, I’m sure, David was an inspiration. In the post life of marriage, I had to give up my prior hobbies (golf) which took me away from my newly aquired family. Searching deep to find something to fill this empty hole, I came across Woodworks late one night. I had taken woodshop in 8 – 9 grades but until I saw the true beauty of Mr. Marks works, I didn’t know where my true passion lyed. From then on, I watched every possible episode of Woodworks and began a large campaign of research and savings. In my quest I found another humble yet very talented woodworker and entrepreneur Marc S. I just want to say thank you to both of you for all that you do and continue to do to bring out the best in all of us. Marc – As soon as I can afford it you can guarantee I’m joining the guild. David – You keep rocking it; your art will inspire people for generations to come!


  37. Great video.
    I really enjoyed seeing David work in a more relaxed atmosphere – showing the real David and not just some DIY polished show.
    Sorry to see that the first turning blank didn’t work out.
    It looked like it would have made a great piece.
    But I also like seeing how things don’t always work out the first time – and that it’s not just me (I know it isn’t just me – but it sure feels like it when things don’t work out).

    Marc/David – Any chance that we’ll get to see a picture of the finished bowl? I’d just like to see how it turned out – no pun intended;-)

  38. Eric June 18, 2011

    great video! Will be looking online for any Woodworks videos.

  39. Would love to spend a couple of day with David to lean some turning skills from him. I started to turn but it looks much easier than it actuly is.

  40. Duck June 18, 2011

    Great video wish he could have shown the bottom shaping steps . Most of the videos on turning are very stiff and formal while this video came across as relaxed and more informative because i could relate to him being in his shop. Saving up to buy my first lathe going to get a small one to start out with to make pens and handles. Just got to do research on the brand that would be best for semi use and best for medium price.

  41. stevenh June 18, 2011

    Very cool!1

  42. Mike G June 18, 2011

    This was a great video, and I wholeheartedly agree; David looks much more relaxed than he did on Woodworks!!!

    David, hope you get some self made videos up soon!!

  43. Brendan P June 19, 2011

    Intresting video. I personally am not a fan of that rough edge, granted that is merely a personal preference. Those carbide tools are pretty cool, must sure beat sharpening them.

  44. Lori June 19, 2011

    Great video and I just loved being able to see all the different forms and woods. Mr. Marks is very talented, and what a mentor to have Marc. I hope to see the finished bowl sometime down the road, I know it’ll looking awesome. I always enjoyed turning the natural edge bowls, but you have to have a delicate hand and watch those knuckles :-) What a special treat, thank you so much for the video you guys.

  45. TennesseeYankee June 20, 2011

    It is great that you get to work with and have such a close relationship with an icon.

    I count my lucky stars that I get to do the same in my profession.

    Seems like a very helpful, knowledgeable, and friendly person to be around.

  46. Bryan H June 21, 2011

    I love watching these types of videos….I think the part that I really enjoy is at the end where David explains why he made each vessel with eas specific base. Each one is beautiful on its own, but I really enjoying understanind the motives behind adding a band, or a small concave base that allows the piece to flow into the table, etc. Great video Marc, and thanks David for letting us into your shop once again. You both are inspirational in helping so many of us strive to be better in our woodworking!

  47. medfloat June 23, 2011

    Glad to see David Marks again, I enjoyed his woodworks show even if he seemed restricted and uncomfortable at times. His work is amazing. The only one that lost out, besides the thousands of us viewers, was the network. How does the one saying go…”you can’t rush art”? Anyway, thanks to both of you for the video.


    Oh, wait. One more thing. What ever happened to that turning video you were going to have Nicole do a few years back? That would be fun to watch.

  48. Ross June 24, 2011

    That’s a pretty sweet lookin’ bowl.

  49. Jim June 25, 2011

    David Marks set the bar so high with his ?Wood Works? that it?s going to take a long time before the market will support another show. Marc set the bar so high for a web series that it?s going to take a lot of money for anyone to catch up. Nobody wants to wait for a TV show to ?evolve? into something tolerable and the sponsors won?t pay while it develops an audience. Low production value web vids are just painful to watch anymore. They come and go. David was compensated for the show and his current work and Marc is compensated for his work. I?ll bet you their combined incomes they?re both under compensated though. Sadly, the reasons are things that can be overcome by both but may never be.

    I highly recommend that we all take a minute to appreciate what we?re basically getting for free because it doesn?t come along very often.

  50. Jim June 25, 2011

    And one more thing. I agree that David is more relaxed when he’s commenting on camera in a more unscripted mode if you will. I think that’s what most people are talking about. However, when he’s narrating, he’s not more relaxed (my opinion). He even does the old “a instead of uh” thing and the “the instead of thu” thing too. He still has the old Wood Works-narrating-lilt-magic like the old days though and it really was enjoyable.

    My guess is that the unpleasantness in the DIY experience was from the control he had to give up in order to do the show. The miracle is that he did it and look what happened. I don’t know who did the script or the camera work or the lighting or the editing or the anything else you want to look at in that show but they are very top rate. All of them. Look back at an episode or two and then take a look at any other TV episode you care to compare it with. Wood Works has the look of artistry from the beginning to the end. You know, when I think about it, it must have been the same for that guy that painted the chapel on his back. “Great work sir but, we can’t really see all that detail from down here, can you speed it up just a bit?”

    I hope Mr. Marks takes no offense to these comments because I only mean the best for him and Marc because they are my woodworking inspirations.

    • Hey Jim,
      No worries mate, I don’t take offense , in fact I welcome your comments so that I can improve my work for future productions.
      Keep checking Marc’s website as well as my website ( djmarks.com) for news of new videos. Something will be coming along before the end of the year.

      Once again, thank you for the responses.

      take care,


  51. MikeD June 27, 2011

    Great to see videos with David in them. You too Marc. It just takes me back to around the time my son was born. I would sit there and play with him and watch WoodWorks. David is the reason I sold my Ducati. To buy my second(really my first) tablesaw and bandsaw.

    Is that a little bit of sweetleaf gold leaf on that last vessel in the video?

  52. Mattias in Durham, NC June 28, 2011

    Really enjoyed the video, and the comments too. I think the quality of production was well above the usual Internet standard. While I’m fortunate enough to live close to Mr. Underhill’s school, I can’t exactly pop over to California easily. The videos area a great substitute. Keep the food stuff coming…

  53. Michael July 6, 2011

    I miss ?Woodworks? too!

    Mark, you did an excelent job in filming this.

    David, you are an artist! I think that you should compile your techniques in a video-book and leave that as your legacy to the mankind.

  54. Gary Bell July 10, 2011


    FABULOUS VIDEO! I loved it. Once again David is such an inspiration to me as a budding artist! As a veteran of three of his classes I look forward to when I can take another. This video and the prospect of future videos from David are maybe just enough to ?hold us over?. I hope all works out with the talks with DIY to be able to release the woodworks videos and I look forward to any future videos that David or you might release.

    Your treatment of the base for the these lath pieces is truly inspirational. Thanks. That inspired some ideas for a piece that I am working on now.

    Incidentally, EVERYONE. Including my wife loves the piece I made at your hollow form class last year. We named if ?ex nihilo? which means ?out of nothing?. Anyway thanks. I loved this video you did with Marc

    Gary Bell

  55. Really love you start with dressing and good sharpening! I was taught the trick about using sharpies on the cutting edge, but I like the grinder marks, that’s one I haven’t heard of.

  56. Scott P August 18, 2011

    Wonderful video… i’ll share the sentiment of others in missing Woodworks! Was there ever a posting of the finished bowl from this video?

  57. Hi David long time no see
    I just watched your video . As usual you make it look easy
    I have been trying some segmented bowls with paterns in them. Do you have any videos covering this subject?
    I miss the classes at woodcraft. Hey how about some classes on”segments”at yor school. hope to here from you soon. Say hi to that lovely wife of yours for me

    sal moceri

  58. strolgen October 1, 2011

    I played the video over and over again on the sharpening technique part but I still can’t figure out the “stew baddies ” plaform sharpening technique. I google “stew baddies” but don’t get anything back… Is there more to it than the two 40 degrees angles? I got my midi today, put it together and can’t wait to create chips!

  59. Mike January 20, 2012

    The leaves look a bit like cannabis… could be my aging eyes playing tricks on me……

  60. Doug March 27, 2012

    What are the chances of a video on aligning the tailstock of a lathe? I recently purchased a Rikon 70-050VS but have never done wood turning. Out of the box the tailstock doesn’t line up with headstock. I’ve searched the web and can’t find instructions on how to do this. Maybe I’m not looking hard enough?

  61. Joe Hureau April 2, 2012

    I always enjoy Mark’s shows (wood does whisper) but it is extra special when we get to see Dave again. I loved the pot leaves in your turnings patina. When I grow up ( I am 52 now0 I hope I could be half as good as both you guys, Thanks for sharing your talent with us. I always try to do the same with the meager skills I have been giving, sharing is caring.

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