If you’re going to make round bowls, why not use a lathe? Well, because I’m chicken. There’s something about a twenty pound chunk of wood spinning around at five hundred rpm that makes me not want to poke it with a bar of steel. I like my chunks of wood to sit still in front of me.
There may be other reasons, but the simple fact is that round bowls can be made without a lathe, so go ahead. The layout couldn’t be more simple, and the adze work is straightforward as well.
Not long ago, I wrote a post about carving the flutes on the maple bowl in the top photo. Here are some photos of the finished bowl.
After hollowing the inside and hewing the outside, I usually turn to a spokeshave on round bowls to fare the outer surface. By holding the bowl up at arms length, symmetry issues are easily seen. I run my hands over the surface often as well. Fingertips can read dips and bumps that the eye may miss. And what you do miss is okay too; the bowl will move anyway.
The movement green wood goes through as it dries is more evident in round bowls than oblong bowls with bilateral symmetry. The rim will not be completely flat after drying; it will likely be crowned a bit along the central axis running with the grain. And the bowl will shrink to a slight oval as it shrinks more across the grain. This maple bowl, for example ended up 14 1/2″ long with the grain and 14″ across the grain. But maybe perfectly flat rims and perfect circles aren’t necessary — certainly not always. It’s nice to have a bowl that let’s its hair down once in awhile.
Some of the round bowls I’ve carved over the years can be viewed on the gallery page of my website.