The "Birth" of a bowl: Page 1
  I often have folks asking where they can see a "step by step" listing of how to make a bowl. I know of no book/magazine that shows this process, and due to the possibility of an accident that could easily result in severe injury - it may be a liability issue. So before I go any further let me post the following disclaimer/warning:              Making a bowl is a process that uses extremely sharp tools for a long period of time that could easily be from 5 to more than 12 hours (especially for a beginner). Getting tired while swinging a sharp tool is an easy way to drop the tool and experience severe cuts (don't ask me how I know). This alone should discourage you from trying it, but I would add to this- the fact that I have performed my craft before tens of thousands of people but can count on one hand - those that have tried the craft themselves (that I know of). It is hard - strenuous work and you are always one "bad swing" away from destroying many hours of hard work or the possibility of  severe personal injury. So --- As the TV shows always say, "Please don't try this at home". 

Now with that being said --- Here is the "step by step" - way  that  I  make a bowl.


Click picture for close up view


A short section of a log is cut fairly level on top, and a line for the bottom of the blank and the top of the blank are drawn on the log. Remove enough bark from the side of the log to see your penciled lines.



Here's the top view after marking and cutting around the ends. The pioneers may have used a manual hand saw or even chipped them out when using softer woods, but I used a power hand "skill" saw to do the ends. It works well as long as the bowl doesn't have handles ... now it's over to the bottom side.




Cut the log from top to bottom with your  chainsaw, staying completely straight    with your cuts. It's not an easy task,         but it can be learned over a period of time.  Having a very sharp chain helps, as does having the wood in a level place so you can cut true when cutting straight down.             




If you would like to try to make your own bowl instead of buying one

You can buy adzes just like the ones I use...Call my Blacksmith "Don Dillon"

at Deep River Forge





Take a pencil with a string tied around it (or you can buy a compass) and after finding and marking your centerline and side edges - mark your ends.

                                              Run your centerline from the top of your bowl (now on the bottom as it is turned upside down) and mark out where  you want the bottom to be - allowing for whatever angle     you want the sides and ends   to have.



...and if the adze by itself isn't dangerous enough - let's throw a chainsaw into the mix. I use it to cut from just outside of the line where the bottom is, to just above the line around the rim of the top. (see the enlarged photo by clicking on this photo).



   I will normally make around 30 of the     "relief cuts" such as these. By making these  what you're doing is making slits that can be used to help you remove the outside wood easier while at the same time making you a mathematically   correct or symmetrically shaped bottom.



  I use a "flat adze" (made to my specifications with no sweep) or a barrel adze will work also - to cut down to the bottom of the chainsaw cuts, then just a bit further to smooth the sides out to almost sanded smooth.


More relief cuts - this time to the inside  of the bowl after drawing a line around  the top about 3/4 inch from the edge.       The trick is to NOT cut too deep. You already have a few hours invested in  your bowl - don't mess it up now !!!



Remove the "Relief Cuts" working pretty much in ever widening circles starting in the center working your way out. Take your time and watch the grain of the wood as you work. You remove much more wood cutting with the grain than cutting against it, but you'll have to do both as you rotate the bowl as you're working it. Never chip against the grain in the bottom. You have to see the bowl as a 3 dimensional object not only in shape, "but in grain too".  try to cut away from the ends towards the middle as much as possible. If you have wood with birds-eyes or curly grain, now that's a whole 'nother problem way to difficult to discuss here. Your thumb and middle finger are the  thickness gauges you'll use as you get near the edge.                                   (This is the completed/sanded only - bowl)              




    This is the same bowl 2 minutes later after applying the mineral oil. I call this "coming alive" and you can easily see why. I distorted the picture a little when reducing its file size but assure you that it's the same bowl. I use the mineral oil to replace the sap, so that I can control how slow the wood dries out to prevent cracking. I will closely watch the bowl to be sure that no cracks appear (unless I am wanting some surface cracks on the ends of a bowl, per customer request).

To see a side view click this link images\13sideviewmineraloil.jpg


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