Last weekend, I was hollowing a big deep bowl from a cherry log. After the adze work, I reached for a tool I use from time to time to fine tune the form of a large hollow. I’ve seen tools like this called inshaves or scorps, so take your pick. I’ll call it an inshave here.
You can find dozens of different inshaves available with a quick search. Chairmakers would know more about them than me. I’m only familiar with this one, which I like for bowls because it comes back together more at the top than most, which keeps the hands in tight which is more important in a deep bowl than with a chair seat.
The handles also sweep back enough to stay clear of the bowl. There are scorps with a single handle, but I think the double provides more control.
I purchased this one nearly 20 years ago from Massachusetts blacksmith Ray Larsen who had a business called Genuine Forgery. He wrote at least one article in Fine Woodworking magazine back in 1977, and he also wrote the book Tool Making for Woodworkers. It’s a very practical book for anyone who wants to make or adjust some of their own tools. I’ve referred to it many times over the years. I found an interesting article about Ray and some of his later artistic toolmaking explorations.
Of course, like all of these edge tools, it doesn’t work well if I don’t keep it really sharp. Even after all these years, I’m still amazed at how the performance of a tool is transformed after even a touch-up. I’m getting better at reminding myself of that more often.
Another way to fair the interior is with a modified travisher. I wrote a post about this one a couple years ago.
Neither of these tools is a necessity for carving bowls, but they’re nice options for certain circumstances.
I’ve hewn the outside of the bowl now, and, after it dries, I’ll put the final surface on the hollow by paring with a sharp gouge.
I have a whole set of tools from Ray, an inshave, a drawknife, and a pommel knife. All belonged to a chairmaker friend of mine who passed away. I was honored to be offered them by his widow.
I had a second set that I found on eBay and the pommel knife went to our pal Peter Lamb, the scorp to Greg Pennington, and the drawknife to Jason Lonon. How’s that for getting tools into capable hands?
LikeLiked by 1 person
What special gifts to be passed on to you, Joel. In capable hands just like the ones you found on ebay. Nice work finding perfect homes for those!
What a BIG piece of cherry! Looking like a very fine bowl.
Hmmmm? There are a couple of Snell & Atherton heel shaves hanging on a rack in my shop that I never considered using for hollowing bowls. Maybe…? Something new to try. THANKS for the inspiration.
There’s an idea, Bob. I had to look up the Snell & Atherton heel shave. Looks like they come in a variety of curvatures. Might have to get the handles out of the way and adjust the area in front of the blade, but who knows. Worth exploring. Good luck!
I have a set of caulking irons from Genuine Forgery – great irons.
I didn’t know about the book –
LikeLiked by 1 person
Hi Dave – Belated Happy New Year – Hope you & Yours are doing Good
The timing of your post is interesting – yesterday afternoon found me working on a rather large – rectangular bowl – 24 X 12 X 5 deep – doing the very same task of fine cutting the ends to make them symmetric.
Thanks for the lead on the book – was able to find a copy – it is to ship today – looking forward to its insights
To your inshave – can you please provide some details to the sizing –
1. The diameter of the tool – from the photos guessing it to be 4.5 to 5 inches ? 2. The distance the two handles are apart – photo 4 the distance between your thumbs Noting the inshavs I have been able to find on the web for sale today seem to be a much larger diameter and the handles farther apart than yours ?
One idea is to buy a “current product” – find a blacksmith who makes knives & understands tempering – have the tool reshaped to a smaller diameter?? OR — Any ideas ??
Take Care – Travel Safe
Sent from Mail for Windows 10
Hi Rick! You’ve got a good eye for measurement. The diameter is about 4 1/2″ and the gap between the handles where they meet the steel is about 3″. I would say you can probably find a blacksmith that can make one similar or find a currently made product that is close. Mine is not necessarily the ideal for all bowls. Here are a few links to explore, just based on a quick look — maybe a starting point at least. Keep in mind, that I’ve never even held any of the examples below.