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)
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
To see a side view click this link