I then start the lathe and make a few light passes across the face of the blank to level and dress the surface.
Photo #5: Blank face dressed
I use a pair of callipers to lay out the tenon that will be used for mounting the plate when I reverse it. I use a bowl gouge to remove some wood around the tenon and then a square end scraper and a ˝” skew laid on its side and used as a scraper to shape the tenon and inner side of the foot.
Photo #6: Tenon and inner surface of foot cut.
Next I start to rough the shape for the plate bottom. I form the outside of the foot and begin shaping the “bowl” of the plate and the drooping corners. The hollow underneath the corners is basically a cove cut into the face of the blank, and is cut just the same way as a cove on a spindle, by cutting in from both directions to the deepest part of the cove.
Photo #7: Rough shaping the bottom
The most difficult part of this operation is that I am working almost solely by feel when cutting the underside of the corners. This is an interrupted cut because for part of each workpiece revolution the gouge is not even touching the wood, let alone being supported by it. I usually turn things like this at fairly high speed (~1500 rpm) to minimize the amount of time the gouge is “cutting air”. The downside of the speed is that the corners are pretty much invisible because they are spinning so fast. You really need to stop the lathe frequently both to see what shape is developing and to re-orient yourself as to where the corners are.
The photo above shows the ridges that tend to develop where the outward cut on the plate bottom and the inward cut from the plate corner don’t quite meet perfectly. I don’t worry about them until I have the shape pretty well complete, and then use a round end scraper to blend the curves together just before sanding. I got a bit carried away and forgot to stop and take a picture before I started sanding this one.