Fluted Walnut Bowl



After making many bowls, I’m still thrilled by the prospect of shaping a rough chunk of log into a finished bowl.  The just-finished walnut bowl in the two photos above began with flattening the bottom and fairing the upper surface of a split log.  Then I started in with an axe.


For large bowls with deeply swept rims, I sometimes begin the hollow with this 19″ axe.  I make a deep v notch across the middle, then expand it toward the handles.  I swing freely with a one-hand grip at the end of the handle, flinging the axe head into the wood. I’ve tried sawing a series of crosscuts to chunk out some of this material.  Works ok, but the axe is faster and more fun.  I switch to an adze for the rest of the hollowing.


After the hollowing, I roughly hew the exterior with an axe.  An adze worked across the ends under the handles creates relief that allows for continued work with the axe.


Here’s another shot (above) of the material to be removed with adze work.


Here is the surface after going back to the axe to further shape the outside down to the roughly adzed area under the handles.  Then the back and forth continues with more careful work with the adze:


Here, the adze has cut reasonably close to what will be the final shape under the handles.


And back to the axe again.  It’s a wonderful, satisfying process, and, writing this, I can smell the fresh walnut chips again.


Some work with a drawknife and spokeshave refine the shape.


Of course, there’s lots of work after the bowl dries.  Here’s a shot of carving the flutes.  I was watching an old interview with Bruce Lee recently and he said, “And when you do punch, I mean you’ve got to put the whole hip into it and snap it and get all your energy in there.”  That same advice is pretty good for carving these end grain areas and as close as I’m likely to come to a fight.


Eventually, all of those flutes come together.

This one is for sale.  (Update: SOLD)  It is 16 1/2″ long, 11 1/4″ wide, and 6 1/8″ high.  The price of $975 includes insured shipping within the U.S.  Email me at dandkfish@gmail.com if you are interested.  Here are a couple additional photos:



This entry was posted in adze, axe, quotes and excerpts, tools, Uncategorized, walnut and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to Fluted Walnut Bowl

  1. Brian Douglas says:

    Mr Fisher, What a stunning Bowl !! How do you ever decide to sale something that beautiful !


  2. Stephen Channon says:

    I hope to follow in your foot steps at 61, very beautiful bowl, if I could only get the logs! We have more concrete than trees in England sadly.

    Every blessing in Christ Jesus


  3. Gene Felder says:

    Dave, it’s just beautiful. As I mentioned in the past, if you ever decide to do a “beyond the basics” class, please let me know. In the meantime I keep watching the various videos. One question…when you say “after the bowl dries”, I know it’s hard to generalize, but how long after, before you start the fluting or carving? Or maybe a better question is, how does the wood feel before you start that process?


    • Dave Fisher says:

      Thanks Gene. You certainly have the basics down, and I’ll keep you posted. Regarding the drying, I usually wait at least two or three weeks for a bowl this size. Much depends on how thin you’ve carved during the green stage, wood species, etc. The wood feels warm to the touch and dry when I do the finish carving. I usually have a few pieces in various stages around, so the wait isn’t inconvenient.


      • Gene says:

        I think one of my problems is that I’m doing chip carving too soon. I’m finding it difficult to get a smooth, clean line…maybe the wood is still too green? Patience, right?


  4. Bob Easton says:

    A constant stream of inspiration. THANKS for showing us these fabulous pieces.

    BTW, does the “2019 * 15” on the bottom mean that this is the 15th bowl this year?


    • Dave Fisher says:

      That’s right, Bob. 15 is pretty low, but carving time has been a bit short this year and I don’t number everything I make (shrink pots, and so on). Actually, I may not bother numbering bowls next year, and just mark the year. The more I’ve thought about it, there’s not really any need for the number. I record each one in a book with dimensions and such anyway.


  5. Scott Thomas says:

    Incredible as always Dave, I never tire of seeing your “process” photos. I would like to have come to see you in Ohio next weekend but we had made plans to go to Tennessee for a long weekend before I read of your plans to be there. I’m sure you will be an inspiration to those fortunate to see your work and demos. Enjoy.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Barry Gordon says:

    Better and better all the time!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Tone says:

    That’s a very fine bowl David 🙂 The refinement of your fluting is extraordinary. You seem to use Walnut and Cherry quite often. Both are uncommon, but not unheard of, in my area (in England). We do have a fair mix of varieties though: Beech, oak, apple, willow, Leylandii, black thorn, hawthorne and a little Box. My mother had large Beech felled a couple of years ago, a fine tree but too big for the garden and the neighbour’s view. I managed to put aside several large logs for bowls but, with so much firewood to process and other commitments I’ve had little time to carve. Now that things have settled down, I started looking at my fine collection of bowl logs only to find that they have all dried out 😦 Ironic as it has been pouring with rain all month here! As well as the frustration of loosing so much raw material (at least it splits well for firewood, sigh), I now find myself itching to get carving again but without any greenwood. Oh well, lessons to be learnt: paint the logs ends (have never done this), use-it-or-lose-it and concentrate on maintaining a small steady supply of bowl logs, rather than trying to stockpile lots for the future (it won’t last), make time to carve regularly and stick to it. 🙂


    • Bob Easton says:

      No, stockpiling doesn’t work.(sigh) David offers a tip in his Fine Woodworking video series (fee-based content, well worth it).

      Keep freshly cut logs tightly wrapped in plastic bags until rough shaping is done. I have no idea of how long they can be kept (species, size, etc.), but I did manage to hang onto some freshly felled maple for 2 months this way. I guess the next tip is to befriend the tree felling folks who come across logs everyday. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dave Fisher says:

      Yeah, it’s always a bit of a juggle when it comes to materials. I do use walnut and cherry often, because there’s a good bit around, especially cherry. But I tend to use whatever turns up and and make what I can from it.


  8. Tone says:

    BTW I’ve acquired several old gouges that I’m itching to try out. 2 wide, deep English spoon gouges (with sweep numbers in the late 20’s or early 30s) which look useful, rehandled with what looks like Box London-pattern handles (considered the fanciest by some, which are good to look at and use but not my favourite) and a couple of wide, fishtail sculpture gouges – not sure if these will prove useful or not, they might be a tad to shallow, but keen to find out. I probably won’t buy many/any more gouges, in truth I could get buy with just the 1 or 2 Hans Karlsson gouges I started out with. Old chisel and gouges prices have gone from give-away to ridiculously over the last decade or so over here (with people frequently bidding more for gouges than their normal full retail price new!). I should really start selling off what I don’t use but you just know as soon as you do that you’ll suddenly need it 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Karl says:

    Beautiful work as always, Dave. And I love the pictures of your process; especially the ones where the bowl is (WARNING: Roy Underhill joke ahead!) half-adzed.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Eric Goodson says:

    Lovely bowl, Dave, as always. I also noticed the lovely chair. Looks pinned. Your work?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dave Fisher says:

      Yeah, Eric, that’s the first Alexander chair I built back in 2003. Ash (pins too) with a hickory bark seat. Still going strong and my favorite chair in the house or in the shop. And, at about 6 1/2 pounds, it’s light and easy to carry outside for some spoon carving.


  11. JReed says:

    Beautiful as always David, your photography is superb.

    Liked by 1 person

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