Check for Checks

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.

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20 Responses to Check for Checks

  1. francedozois says:

    a beautiful solution–

    Liked by 1 person

  2. dchernoff says:

    So true about cracks. I have a few dovetail stabilized cracks in progress as we speak…

    The lines abd grain pattern on that bowl are really sweet: glad you saved it from the fireplace.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Scott Kinsey says:

    All the more beautiful.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Scott Thomas says:

    Continued evidence of your outstanding craftsmanship Dave. Beautiful job all around.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Scott Andrews says:

    Hi Dave,

    Repair is part of life. Great work. If you ever want to sell it let me know. It’s just beautiful.



    Scott Andrews Principal Stoner-Andrews, Inc 4750 Shelburne Rd PO Box 583 Shelburne, VT 05482 Off. 802 985-9456 Cell 802 238-4464



  6. 25LTuesday says:

    This is such a wonderful story. I know that when I touch my personal scars, I am reminded of part of my history. But what is interesting, I am less reminded of what ever it was that caused the scar, and more about the healing experience. I cherish each and every one.

    I, too, would be interested in cherishing this creation in my home, if you ever decide you are open to offering it.

    My best …

    Liked by 2 people

  7. The true measure of a craftsman is not that he does not make mistakes but how he chooses to fix them. I remember this quote everytime I make mistakes, especially the ones where I think that I should have known better than to make them.

    Beautiful work.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Richard McCarty says:

    BEAUTIFULLY conceived and executed….!!! Great example of Kintsugi – also wabi-sabi, a somewhat synonymous term… the beauty of imperfection…. Still…. beyond all of that, it’s another absolutely BEAUTIFUL bowl….!!!!!!!! Thanks for sharing…..

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Jack Harness says:

    Nicely done!
    Just as the bowl is part of the history of the tree it came from..the repair is now part of the history of both.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. sorornishi says:

    I really don’t mind the blemishes in the things I make when they stem from the nature of the wood. I often welcome a warp, a discolouration, or any of the things you don’t find in boring machine-made pieces…. It just demands a little more design inspiration to incorporate it.
    Beautiful bowl,… great design solution.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Ed says:

    I was just thinking about kintsugi and cracked treen. I bought a “kit” and plan to use it on a chalice, but I currently have a kuksa with a big crack. Was going to experiment sealing it with pitch.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I think you should crack every bowl! Just stunning.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. It’s beautiful. The pattern looks like a topographical map.


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