WoodCentral's video reviews
Segmented Turning

Segmented Turning
by Bill Kandler

Verified Software Products Co.: 2007
DVD, 120 min., US$24.95

Being a segmented turner myself, I was happy when I was asked to review Bill Kandler's DVD, aptly titled Segmented Turning. Instructional videos on segmented woodturning are rare; in fact, this is the only one I know of other than the one produced by my friend Curt Theobald. Overall I found it to be a good introduction for beginners, but I also took issue with some aspects of the presentation, as I will describe in this review.

Segmented Turning is a step-by-step instructional video intended to illustrate the segmented bowl construction and turning process from beginning to end. Bill first discusses, and then demonstrates, each of the various steps from overall design to ring design to finishing. Throughout the video, Bill assumes that the viewer already has basic woodturning and woodworking skills, thus almost no time is wasted explaining the operations of the lathe or other shop machines. It should also be noted that this DVD is about segmented turning, not general woodturning.


The video is shot from the perspective of the viewer, as if you were standing in the shop with Bill talking directly to you. Sometimes you are standing in front of him while he discusses a process, and sometimes you are looking over his shoulder while he works. From a technical standpoint, the camera work, sound, editing, special effects, etc. are all very well done.

Here is my chapter-by-chapter commentary:

1. Introduction
Bill begins by giving us some background on how and why he began segmented turning shortly after buying his lathe six years ago; then he continues with a brief explanation of his views on the advantages of segmented turning, taking care to dispel the impression that segmented turning is overly complicated and that each piece takes a long time to do. Though he says it only takes 10 to 12 hours to make a segmented bowl, he goes on to dampen the viewer's enthusiasm somewhat with the statement that those hours are spread out over one to three months. (My personal experience is that you can make a segmented bowl in as little as a weekend, depending on the complexity of the design and your process.)

2. Design
Since Bill created and sells a computer program used to design and produce plans for segmented bowls, it is no surprise that he spends 20+ minutes of the DVD demonstrating how his software works, and how to use it to design a bowl. I own and have used the most recent version of his software. I found it to be somewhat complicated but full-featured, fairly-priced and effective. Bill does a good job of explaining how to use it. (In the interest of fair disclosure, I use and sell a different brand of software for this purpose.)

3. Feature Ring
Feature rings can vary a lot in complexity and difficulty, but Bill picks an easy design - the zig-zag - for this demonstration. He explains the process and the pitfalls quite well, and when he makes a mistake in his process, he freely admits it and shows the viewer how he fixed it.

4. Wood Selection
Bill does a very good job of explaining wood selection and preparation and the grain selection process. He explains the necessity of picking wood based not only on color but also on other essential attributes such as grain orientation and wood density relative to the other woods in the piece.

5. Segment Cutting
This chapter shows the basic process of using a sled or miter gauge on a table saw to cut the segments for each ring. He talks about equipment setup, with the assumption that the viewer has basic woodworking and machine set-up knowledge. I disagreed with Bill's statement that a regular combination table saw blade will work fine for cutting segments. While I agree that beginners should use the resources at hand until they decide they enjoy segmenting, I think that a much finer sawblade is necessary to produce endgrain joints that are suitably inconspicuous.

6. Segment Gluing
Here Bill explains and demonstrates the segment gluing process, but I feel that his method of clamping with rubber bands is overly complicated and time consuming. In my opinion, using a simple band clamp or hose clamp is faster, simpler, and provides more controllable clamping pressure.

7. Ring Flattening
There are several ways to flatten a ring before adding it to the bowl in progress, using various types of sanding machines or by turning the ring on the lathe. Bill mentions most of them in this chapter.

8. Mounting
Bill covers the essentials of building the segmented form here: joint alignment, glues and clamping. He uses his lathe to press each new ring to the bowl. While this approach works, it does tie up the lathe and may slow down the overall process. Many turners prefer an inexpensive, shop-made bowl press or a drill press or even barbell weights to apply the necessary pressure.

9. Stacking and Turning
This chapter is a straightforward demonstration of how the bowl is turned at each stage of the stacking process. Bill prefers to turn the walls of the bowl almost to their final thickness as he builds; whereas I usually leave the walls thicker for support, reserving final turning for when the bowl is completely built.

10. Finishing
This chapter explains Bill's method of applying an oil finish to the completed bowl. No surprises here.

Segmenting is a process that is not easily understood without a detailed, clearly-demonstrated tutorial like Segmented Turning. On the downside, I felt that some of Bill's power tool practices- such as bandsawing and tablesawing with his fingers very close to the blade-set dangerous examples for viewers, especially novices. Although aesthetics weren't explicitly covered in the video, I didn't personally care much for the appearance of the example bowl. Its large foot seemed to be dictated by his use of a four-jaw chuck without using a waste block to distance the bowl from the chuck.

Overall, this is not a video for novice turners or people with no experience with other woodshop equipment, but it is a good reference for the turner who wants to begin segmented woodturning.

. . . Mark Kauder