Following up on this post about carving a bowl in American chestnut, I’ll share some photos and thoughts on the hollowing process. That cross grain trench in the photo above is something I’ve discussed in more detail before. It establishes the contours through the deepest and widest part of the bowl and severs the fibers from one side to the other so that all of the remaining chips release cleanly.
As the major trend-setter for the rest of the hollow, it’s ideal to establish a trench with a nice full U shape like the left side of the drawing above. Of course, every bowl has its own proportions, so the drawing isn’t meant to indicate a specific pattern. The same general principle applies to just about any bowl form.
This particular bowl I’m working on is a little too steep and deep for my adze to form the cross-grain trench effectively — too tight of an arc, so I’m using a bent gouge. Above, I’m beginning the cut with the “Psycho” grip. Notice the angle of the tool. I imagine the intended arc of the hollow rising right up out of the bowl and into the space above (refer back to that arrow in the drawing), and I place the bevel on that imaginary extended surface. I’m controlling the edge in space by securing the side of my left hand against the bowl and holding the shaft in my fingers. After the tool cuts a little, the bevel will register against the new surface it is cutting.
To move the edge forward I bend at the knees, allowing my descending body weight to propel the gouge while steadily pulling the handle back to lever off the back of the bevel and form the arc. In the photo above, the cutting edge has reached the center of the bowl. The fingers of my left hand are putting pressure down on the shaft of the tool to keep the edge engaged in cutting the wood.
An adze or gouge can then remove the remaining material from the rim down to this “landing zone” at the bottom of the trench. Maybe it was the rhythmic beat of the adze that put Chip to sleep. Doesn’t take much on a hot humid day.
Above, the adze has done it’s work. The gouge will clean up whatever the adze has left. The bottom of the cross-grain trench is still there.
Then I refine the hollow by paring with a bent gouge before moving on to the exterior.