You know how when you carve a big deep cherry bowl then set it aside to dry after the green carving stage, and you’re really happy with it, and the next day there’s a crack? Yeah, I hate when that happens.
I should have known better. I could see the check in the end grain of the log extending from the pith, but I thought the blank would be beyond its reach. Wrong. No method of slow drying would have prevented it. The point of weakness was already there. The most important procedure to avoid cracks is not during the drying stage, it’s long before that when getting the blank from the log. In my experience just about every crack results from a fine check opening up. Respect the checks.
Angry and disappointed, my initial reaction was to burn it, but I really was pleased with how this bowl was shaping up and thought it still had a lot of potential. So rather than giving up on it, here’s what I tried. I let some superglue (CA glue) wick deeply into the hairline crack, then clamped across the bowl at the handle to make sure it stayed tight while the glue cured. The glued crack can be seen in the photo above, running from the handle down and to the left. It can’t be felt.
The crack stayed tight as the bowl continued to dry. After the bowl was dry, for added assurance, I cut a dovetail key from walnut and fit it into the underside of the handle across the crack. I shaped the bottom of the key a bit to get a clear tracing of the edges onto the bowl, then carved the recess and glued it in place. Then I carved the surface to match the contour of the handle before carving the lettering. It can be seen in the broader context of the whole bowl in the photo below.
This bowl was designed as a salad bowl, so I created just a slight arch across the top of the blank. The high sides keep the garbanzo beans in the bowl during the tossing.
I’m glad this bowl will be serving salad instead of fueling my fireplace. I don’t know much about it, but I suppose there may be a connection here to a practice/philosophy called kintsugi, usually applied to pottery. I’m not going to go cracking bowls on purpose, but I don’t think I’d change this one now even if I could.