Bent, Warped, and Twisted



Spiral splits follow the grain in the cherry log.

I had a plan in my mind for a square tapering shrink pot. As I smacked the froe and watched the waste from the first side fall away, I realized this log had other plans.  This cherry tree had grown with a spiraling grain, now revealed in each of the four newly-split winding surfaces.

The opening lines of a poem I had read and copied into my sketchbook came to mind:

What has bent you,
Warped and twisted you,
Torn and crippled you?
What has embittered you,
O lonely tree?

— from The Pine at Timberline by Harriet Monroe

Here was an ideal lettering opportunity.


I followed the grain and carved a tapering, twisting, square shrink pot, leaving bold gouge marks on the interior, and a more subtle texture on the outside.  The first two lines of the poem were carved, in part, near the edge of each side.

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The square opening shrinks around the bottom just as it does with a circular form:


6 1/2 inches high and 4 1/4 inches square at the base, cherry.


Here are a couple more recently completed shrink pots; both in aspen, but in very different styles:

This entry was posted in carving, cherry, green woodworking, Lettering, shrink box, Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Bent, Warped, and Twisted

  1. Emil says:

    Hi D

    Did you carve those letters with your pocket knife?

    Hey I also asked you a question about your t handle auger. Did you do something to sharpen the tip screw? Yours has nice a nice sharp screw. Mine is full and rounded.

    Thank you



    • Emil Dahl says:


      I just realized I have to check the box in order to get notification when you answer. Sorry I have asked several questions twice.

      Did you just start into the square pot with your auger first?

      Do you just make one 2″ hole and then do all of the rest with a knife or do you sometimes make multiple holes?

      What knife do you find you use the most.

      Thank you


      • Dave Fisher says:

        No problem with the technology confusion. Happens to me all the time. Yes, I bored with the 2″ auger first, then hollowed the rest with a knife and gouges. You could make multiple holes depending upon the size of the auger.

        There are many well-designed sloyd knives available today. I mainly use a Frost’s 106 blade that I handled myself and also a sloyd knife made by Del Stubs.

        The letters on this box are around 3/4-7/8 inch high, so I did carve them with my pen knife blade as I usually do for letters that size or smaller.


  2. Andy Sistrand says:

    Love that twisted pot–a brilliant dialogue between artist and material

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dave Fisher says:

      Thanks, Andy. I’m glad this piece worked out. I’m learning more and more to appreciate a piece of wood for what it has to offer, rather than wishing it conformed to my expectations of it.


  3. Ida VonRuden says:

    Checked out your web site. All of your work is indescribably beautiful! What an inspiration. Ida

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I was a little gutted to see this sold so quickly!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. hiddenspoons says:

    I love the poem. I thinking the twisting and warping grain is a sign of strength not willing to fold but to bend and twist to whatever Impedes it and grow on.
    It’s beautiful!


  6. Tone says:

    Lovely piece. Really … elegant.

    Re. shrink pots. On the UK TV program “Salvage Hunters” last night, they visited an antique dealer in Harrogate, Yorkshire. He buys a lot of stock from Eastern Europe. In his barn he had stacks of, I would estimate, about 200 large, old wooden bowls/troughs! Also, he had many shrink pots, mostly very large ones, formerly used to hold grain. Drew Pritchard, the presenter, bought the largest one, which was huge, big enough for a man to stand-up in; it was, perhaps, waist height. This is the place: and here: . You can see the stack of bowls in this image: and here:


  7. Tone says:

    Re. Lettering with a pen knife. How do you avoid losing your penknife – do you keep yours safe in your workshop or do you carry it with you?

    I find it useful to carry a small penknife (we have strict limits on what can be carried here in the UK) – useful for opening parcels, removing tags & cutting string/rope/straps/fruit – but I lose them regularly, which can be upsetting. So I am reluctant to become attached to one as a tool. Last year I lost my favourite pen knife: bought for just 50p at a carboot sale, an inexpensive souvenir it had “Africa” & a picture of an elephant on the plastic handle but it also had a small “Made in Sheffield” carbon steel blade which readily took a good edge – it was an excellent little penknife. It turned up 6 months later just 18″ from my back door! Rusty but restorable. Would love to know the story behind that. I have restored it but the elephant & “Africa” are now covered by a rather attractive tortoise-shell like rust effect (an improvement) and the blade is pitted but useable. Meantime I bought a cheap, old all-steel (stainless?) promotional 2 mini-blade pen knife from a garage sale; the seller told me his late Uncle had carried it in his pocket all of the sellers life (he was 55 years old) and it was always kept sharp. Both blades looked promising for carving & letter carving, so I honed then stropped them until sharp enough for carving. I normally carry it in my pocket but I have lost it 6 or 7 times already (usually just in the washing machine) – it is currently AWOL – and I have yet to carve with it.


    • Dave Fisher says:

      I carry mine with me — pretty much all of the time. I use it daily for lots of stuff that comes up — from carving to sharpening pencils. Not losing it is mostly a matter of habit and routine: When I go to bed, I take it out of my pocket and put it on a shelf in the same spot every night. When I get dressed in the morning, I pop it into my pocket. I’ve had this same knife for close to twenty years. I’ll admit it has gone through the wash a time or two!
      I plan on writing a post soon about the particular knife I use.


  8. Pingback: Bent Bowl | David Fisher, Carving Explorations

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