Daily Bowl Article

DF photos cherry eating bowl texture fluted 2

There’s a new issue of Fine Woodworking Magazine just out (August 2020, Issue #283) with a slew of good articles.  I’ve also got an article in there on carving an eating bowl like the one above.  With just a few tools, and no adze, you can have the fun of making a bowl that will become a part of your daily life as much as the food you eat from it.  You hold the bowl, the bowl holds your oatmeal — a wonderful relationship.


As are the relationships between the enthusiastic staff members at Fine Woodworking; not that they hold each other, necessarily.  To put it simply, these are really good people that are dedicated to doing great work together.  It has been a real privilege for me to get to know them and work with the team from time to time.

Back in 2017, Ben Strano and Jeff Roos were even able to film a couple days of me talking to myself while making wood chips and transform it in to a series of videos on carving a bowl that turned out fantastic.

This latest article features a bowl with a much more simple form, but this can be deceptive.   While there are fewer complex curves than many of my bowls and no flaring undercut sculpted handles, getting the subtleties of a seemingly straightforward breakfast bowl like this just right is an engaging challenge even for experienced carvers.  Jon Binzen’s clear photos break it down beautifully.


That said, this form is not overwhelming for a beginner and doesn’t require many tools or much material.  And the concepts involved carry over to other bowl forms.

DF photos cherry bowl interior

While the inside should ideally be cleanly cut with a gentle texture for ease of eating and washing…

DF photos cherry eating bowl texture fluted

…,the outside offers up a blank canvas with all sorts of possibilities.  In the article, I go into detail about laying out and carving a fluted exterior like the one above.

DF photos cherry eating bowl texture spiral

And there will be additional possibilities discussed at FWW online, including the spiral texture above that is trickier than it looks due to grain direction.

DF photos cherry eating bowl texture dappled

Also, this dappled texture as well as some information on painting.

I also have a couple more articles in the works.  Meanwhile if you want to check out some of my previous articles here is a link to the links.

One last thing.  The material for the eating bowl in this article is easily obtained and handled, a small diameter log, about 8 inches across.  I typically don’t mind the movement, the crowning, that takes place as the piece dries, but if you want to avoid it you might consider splitting your next big log to get some vertical grain blanks for bowls like in the second example of this little sketch.


The movement may be a bit exaggerated, but it should give you the idea.  By splitting a large enough log twice, you can get two long sections of vertical grain to both sides of the pith and still have plenty of wood above and below for other bowls.  There will be much less movement in a bowl carved from such a blank.  That central band doesn’t need to be more than three inches thick.



This entry was posted in finding wood, green woodworking, Uncategorized, writing and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Daily Bowl Article

  1. Bob Easton says:

    Since seeing the post from Fine Woodworking a couple of days ago, I’ve been checking the mail box about every 15 minutes. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. nrhiller says:

    So, so lovely.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jed Dillard says:

    Great to see the article and to continue to get more from your emails Thank you for sharing your knowledge and techiques. Jed

    On Sun, May 31, 2020, 12:38 PM David Fisher, Carving Explorations wrote:

    > Dave Fisher posted: ” There’s a new issue of Fine Woodworking Magazine > just out (August 2020, Issue #283) with a slew of good articles. I’ve also > got an article in there on carving an eating bowl like the one above. With > just a few tools, and no adze, you can have the fun ” >

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Skip Florey says:

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge and techniques. This information has given me hope I can be successful…I keep “practicing” and enjoy making progress.
    I was also able to order a couple gouges from the recent release by Hans Karlsson. I’m looking forward using their terrific tools!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. francedozois says:

    as always fabulous, spiral texture I hadn’t seen before–A+–how are your birding experiences this year. Slow year here for migration, winds in your direction not ours–

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dave Fisher says:

      Haven’t been able to get out for good walks lately, Marie, so backyard birding. Nothing too exotic or rare, but it’s nice to lie in the grass and watch the swallows fly above — and the turkey vultures. Love to watch the turkey vultures.


  6. Gary Heinz says:

    I can’t wait Dave….in awe!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. onerubbersoul says:

    Great textural study. I’ll definitely pick up a copy of the magazine. This reminds me of the shaving bowl you made for your son…that is on my project bucket list and I may have to apply one of these textures to the outside. Thanks Dave!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Mark says:

    Received my copy the other day and immediately knew who was being features for bowl carving! Love the simple form for daily use…especially since I’m a potter, but as usual you present the opportunity to make them creatively your own!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Henry says:

    Thanks David for giving me the inspiration to be better at this bowl and spoon carving! You and Hans,what could be better?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Eliot says:

    Amazing article! My dad and I just got our gouges and we’re carving out our first bowl, but we came across a problem when it came to holding the bowl for the initial exterior shaping. Our axe is a cheap, blunt axe that isn’t at all made for this kind of work, so we wanted to do it with a chisel. Do you have any recommendations for how to hold or wedge the bowl while shaping it?


    • Dave Fisher says:

      For chisel work, you could start out with just holding the bowl blank end to end with pegs and wedges (like in the article when I’m hollowing the interior with a gouge, but upside down) or on a workbench with an end vise and a bench dog. But once you’ve gotten things to a more round shape on the exterior, you could switch to setting up two pegs about 2/3 of the diameter of the bowl apart (or so). Just push the bowl, now upside down, up against them. Work from the foot of the bowl, which is up, down to the rim with your chisel toward the gap between the pegs. You can just continue to rotate the bowl as you work around. If the back end wants to flip up annoyingly with the pressure, you can put a holdfast on to the foot to hold the bowl down.

      As you get closer to the outer line of the rim, make sure to trim to it all around, then go back to your chisel work from foot to rim. If you go right down to the benchtop with the chisel, you could blow out some chunks from the rim. By trimming to the line first, you can taper off as you near the rim with the chisel. This is a similar concept in the article when I’m doing the fluting. I do the big chamfer on the outer rim first so that the gouge comes down into space and avoid blowout at the end of the flutes.

      Best wishes for the father/son project. Let me know if you have any other questions.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s