Why does this never get old? As I was roughing out this big cherry bowl, I thought about how I’ve gone through this process so many times over the years, and yet it remains completely engaging, even thrilling. I suppose there are many factors that contribute to this: the multi-sensory stimulation, the physicality and movement, the constant challenges to one’s skill, the focused attention, the joy of using these tools, and much more.
I took some shots during the early stages with this one to share the experience all over again.
I think much of the fascination lies in beginning with such raw, elemental material and responding to what it offers. This cherry log had natural splits already forming an x pattern centered on the pith, so I had to follow the log’s lead. One of the resulting billets is above. Wanting to work with an arched top, but with the pith side up on this one, I sketched a rough idea of the end-on proportions of the bowl within the heartwood. This would yield a bowl about 13 inches wide. Then I started riving away what excess I could.
There goes the chunk from the bottom side. I had already split off the sapwood on the sides.
After marking, hewing, and hand planing, the bottom is flat, the prime reference surface.
Such a pleasure hewing with a sharp axe, in this case to remove excess from the top.
This cherry has some curly, unruly grain, so after the axe and drawknife work, I went over the arch across the grain with a handplane to finish before layout.
Here’s a shot of some of the final light cuts with the adze. A blank like this is still heavy enough at this point that it stays pretty steady for the adze work.
The hollow after the adze has had its fun.
Then it’s on to the exterior. The curves are in there somewhere. Almost finished!