In the Beginning


Wanting to make another big cherry shrink pot like the one in this post, I put my big folding saw in my pack and walked to a nearby woodlot where a cherry tree had fallen a few months ago.  The saw revealed heartwood just wide enough for the size of pot I wanted (about 6″ diameter at the base).  I toted a chunk back to the workshop and dug in.  Here a few photos showing the beginning of a shrink pot.


I secured the log on my low bench with some giant holdfasts and, standing on the bench myself, started in with the 2″ T-handle auger.  Something so simple can be such a sensory delight; the body twisting and exerting itself, the crunching sound of the edge slicing through end grain, the sight of fresh chips flowing from the top, the perfume filling the shop.  Even Tom Sawyer wouldn’t trade away this bit of work.


For a shrink pot this big, there’s still a lot of material to be removed.  I expand the original hole by working around and around with a mallet and gouge.  I flip the log back and forth a few times to work from both ends.


I want this pot to be all darker heartwood, so I split off the bulk of the sapwood with a froe.


The froe leaves some wood still to be shaved away with the drawknife.  I do that at the bowl horse, but forgot to take a photo.  Pretty easy to imagine though.


Then I clean up the inside a bit by paring with a gouge.  Although the perspective in the photo distorts it a bit, the pot is tapered, an inch narrower at the top than at the bottom, so working the gouge from top to bottom on the inside works with the grain to achieve the cleanest cuts.


A view from above.


Now the bottom is in place and the walls can quietly close in on this first stage.

This entry was posted in cherry, holding, shrink box, tools, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to In the Beginning

  1. Jed Dillard says:

    It’s always interesting and inspiring to see what you’ve
    been up to.
    Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. maydanlex says:

    Your post has me sharpening my gouges.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Bob Easton says:

    Sharpening tools, and looking for some freshly downed wood.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Barry Perkins says:

    Dave how do you size the bottom to ensure the pot shrinks around it to a tight fit? Thanks for the inspiration!


  5. Dave Fisher says:

    As a starting point, I trace the inside perimeter of the bottom of the tube with a finely sharpened pencil onto the board for the bottom. I cut the dry bottom board to just a hair outside that line or just leave the line. Trim carefully, then carve the positive V profile onto the edges. Be sure to make an orientation mark on the bottom and pot wall when tracing and match them back up when fitting the bottom. The bottom will just snap into the groove with some pressure but rattle around pretty freely. You have more room for variation in size than you’d think. Still, I adjust a little depending on the situation. For example, if the tree for the pot is cut in early summer it will have much more moisture, and thus shrink more, than the same tree cut in the middle of winter. Regardless, if you just stay a hair outside that pencil line, you’ll probably be ok. And if the fit seems a little too loose at first, you’ll probably be surprised that the walls will shrink in on it tightly anyway. I’ve got several other posts about shrink pots. See the “shrink box” topic heading on the drop down list to the right.


  6. Sam Glenn says:

    Thanks Dave for sharing your wisdom! I experienced the consequences of making my bottom too tight on my pot. I think my(handmade)tool needs a little work. Any tips ?


  7. Byron Beaver says:

    I’d like to know how you managed to infuse the subtle fragrance of the cherry wood into your poetic description of your carving process! I swear I could smell the freshly drilled and cut wood! You truly are a genie who creates magical pots and bowls.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Nat Cohen says:

    Hi Dave,
    Great shrink pot work! I enjoy checking in on your blog from time to time.It is always an inspiration to see what you are making.

    Liked by 1 person

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