Curves and Chamfers

When a bowl is almost finished, with over 99% of the wood to be removed already on the shop floor, I’m always amazed at what a difference those final few cuts can make. Most of those final cuts could be called chamfers. Not only do they relieve sharp edges, their benefits go beyond the tactile.

They catch light and shadow to help define the form. Especially if they feature some dynamic variation in width and depth, tapering from thick to thin, they can serve to draw the eye along the lines of a piece.

On a piece of furniture with straight lines, chamfers can be cut effectively with a plane. On bowls and pieces with lots of curves, some other tools are more effective. Depending upon the situation and what you feel most comfortable with, chisels, drawknives, and spokeshaves are all good choices. On this bowl, I cut all of the chamfers with a sloyd knife.

The wide, flat bevels of the knife not only make sharpening easy, they also serve to register the edge as it proceeds through the cut. In the photo above, the knife has just cut from the corner of the tail to the top of the arch. The bevel registers against the surface it has just cut, providing control moving forward. To a certain extent, the bevel acts like the sole of a plane, a bullnose plane with the edge out in front — and with a very short sole allowing for a concave curve to be negotiated.

All of the cutting is done and this bird is ready and available for purchase. The overall dimensions are 18 inches long, 9 1/2 inches wide, and 6 1/2″ high. Black walnut. $975 includes insured shipping in the continental US. Email me if you are interested. SOLD

Here are a couple more photos:

I roughed this bowl out several months ago. So long ago, you may have forgotten about this post showing the earlier stages.

And for more on using a sloyd knife, read Wille Sundqvist’s book Swedish Carving Techniques. And Jögge Sundqvist did a series of knife technique videos for Morakniv a couple years ago. Here’s a link to the first one. The rest are also on YouTube. After watching Jögge, you’ll want to make everything with a sloyd knife, and you’ll want his book, and a custom-made reindeer hide apron.

This entry was posted in bird bowls, bowls, tools, Uncategorized, walnut and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Curves and Chamfers

  1. onerubbersoul says:

    I love the play of curves and flat “geometric” shapes, Dave.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Tim Shue says:

    Always inspiring, Dave. You seem to provide the right inspiration and information for every part of my carving journey… even at 3:17am!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Nick Riley says:

    Beautiful as usual David, Do you have any info on getting such chamfers to meet so perfectly when one side meets the other across grain, is it all a matter of just expertise or is there a neat trick somehow? Thanks, nick


    • Dave Fisher says:

      Other than practice and repetition, it begins with feeling when the grain begins to reverse. Stop. In the photo with the knife, I’m at that point ready to come back the other direction. The cut I’m just finishing is probably my third pass in making that chamfer. The first two not only allow me to achieve the depth I want, but they let me feel out the grain. There are visual cues too, of course. Much of it is a matter of firmly registering the bevel of the knife down on the wood and maintaining control through the cut. Keep your elbow tight against your body as it moves and/or part of your hand sliding along the wood. And think positive thoughts!


  4. profmicken says:

    Hi. I have been looking at the images in this email/blog post almost every day since it arrived in my inbox!

    So … if someone else has not already purchased this wonderful bird bowl, I would be interested.

    Thank you.



  5. profmickenp says:

    And I’ll keep on admiring! Thanks.


  6. sorornishi says:

    Always inspiring. I’ve been re-visiting your posts on lettering recently, and although I don’t use a knife, your precision is a great lesson to us all.

    Liked by 1 person

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