Send Off Shaving Bowl


Next week, my son will be going off to college for the first time, so I’ve made him a practical gift as he heads to the dorm.  In his brief shaving career, he has become accustomed to lathering his face with a brush loaded with soap from a wooden bowl.

I carved the one we use now nearly ten years ago, and it makes a lot of sense.  No more buying, and throwing away, can after can of aerosol shave cream.  Plus, the brush is a much more pleasing and efficient applicator than my hand.

When I first made the switch, I bought a little round shave soap cake and popped it into a ceramic mug.  Works fine, but I prefer the wood bowl.  First of all, there’s no annoying clinking of the brush against the mug early in the morning.  The wood is also warm and comfortable to hold in the hand.  I buy shaving soap in bulk one-pound blocks — which are only around $4.  I cut it in about half and melt it in the microwave (a glass measuring cup works great for that), then pour it directly into the bowl.  You can even mix a little fragrant oil in there if you please.  When it cools, the bowl is filled with shaving soap and ready to use.  That one pound block lasts at least a couple years and the only waste is the small bit of plastic wrap from the block.


Have fun making one for yourself or another shaver.  There are lots of possibilities for texture, color, and decoration.  This one is in cherry, 5.75 inches in diameter and 2.5 inches high.  Of course, you can make one in any size you find convenient.  The layout for carving a round bowl is simple.  I wrote about it here.

It will be a bittersweet day next week.  I’m proud of Noah and excited for him.  I’m sure he will, and should, have other things on his mind next week, but I expect that my thoughts will drift back to a time when this was his shaving kit:




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22 Responses to Send Off Shaving Bowl

  1. Emil says:

    Congratulations and good luck young Fisher. Remember the trifecta of success: always go to class, talk to your professor, and do your homework!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. George Lough says:

    Where do you get the soap in bulk. I’ve only been able to get small disks? Switched a few years ago. Now to make a wooden bowl. Remember my father used to get his soap in a wooden bowl during WWII.


    • Dave Fisher says:

      Here’s one spot: , and I’m sure there are others. I’ve ordered from them and have been very pleased. They also have essential oils and fragrant oils if you want to add a bit of scent. And they have cold-pressed flaxseed oil.

      Thanks for mentioning your father getting his soap in a wooden bowl during the war. Really interesting; I’ll have to find out more about that.


    • Another suggestion is to purchase a block of Cella shaving soap which you can find from a number of outlets including the Italian Barber or West Coast Shaving. It retails around $30 – $40 dollars but its 1 kg block and one block can usually last me around three years. You simply cut off a piece of the block, press it into the soap bowl, and store the rest in an air tight container in a closet.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Seth Hensel says:

    The shaving ritual is pretty much the only transfer of edge tool knowledge (from father to son) remaining. Your son has a wonderful father.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. nrhiller says:

    Beautiful! Here’s to a great college experience.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. dixislandboy says:

    Hello Dave,
    A great read. One can tell from the choice of words, that your are one proud dad.
    And you know who he will be thinking of, when he is shaving at school
    Warmest regards,
    Pot Warp

    Liked by 1 person

  6. treenworks says:

    Last Sunday we dropped off my son for his freshman year at college. In his luggage was a maple daily bowl and spoon. I have the other bowl of the pair. I think I fully appreciate the bittersweet comment. Thanks for helping me send off my son with something to let him know how much he means to me. I’m sure your son will feel the same.


  7. Tone says:

    David, how did you finish the shaving soap bowl – just flaxseed oil?

    BTW I’ve been experimenting with shellac recently – in the convenient form of “spirit based sanding sealer” (shellac in alcohol), as used by Paul Sellers on Youtube on his tool handles. You can use it over an oiled finish (indeed I believe shellac over oil wood is the basis of French polishing).

    I’ve used shellac on one bowl and several tool handles but think it is, perhaps, better suited to the tool handles, as it has a taciness that aids grip. Although I gather it can be layered & buffed to a mirror finish. For hand carved bowls I prefer oil and/or wax finishes. I recently met a woman carver who uses sanding sealer all the time to protect her detailed decorative carving from grime, which can apparently sink quite deep into the surface of wood (she showed me some examples with and without the sanding sealer – the difference is clear).


    • Dave Fisher says:

      Yes, flaxseed oil on the shave bowl. I’ve used shellac on boxes and other small furniture pieces, and it is a very nice finish, and non-toxic. If you mixed a thin cut that would absorb into the wood, it might be worth experimenting with for bowls. Of course, it will have it’s limitations. For example, shellac is soluble in alcohol, so it would be a poor choice for an ale bowl I would think. As a sealer for decorative carvings, it is excellent, and can always be gone over with a bit of wax as well.


  8. onerubbersoul says:

    Great! Another project to add to my bucket list…haha, great work David. Best of luck to your son.


  9. Scott Thomas says:

    As I work as the maintenance dept. office manager of a small east central Indiana college and today being move in day for freshman, they are all moving about with parents and younger siblings past my office window. Full of excitement and enthusiasm I hope some of them have something as valuable as what you have done for your son. A beautiful handmade (wooden) object from a loving parent or grand is hard to beat.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. cynthamum says:

    Such a great idea and always so lovely! I am going to make 2 for my husband and son. Thanks!

    On Aug 17, 2017 12:10 PM, “David Fisher, Carving Explorations” wrote:

    > Dave Fisher posted: ” Next week, my son will be going off to college for > the first time, so I’ve made him a practical gift as he heads to the dorm. > In his brief shaving career, he has become accustomed to lathering his face > with a brush loaded with soap from a wooden bowl. ” >


  11. Karen Bentley says:

    Wow! Still amazed after all these years! 😳❤️


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