A few days ago I finished this cherry bowl for a local fundraiser. It features a relatively narrow side panel below the edge of the rim that makes an ideal spot for some chip carving. I took a few shots along the way with this bowl, beginning with the log.
This bowl came from a fallen cherry tree that had been on the ground in a friend’s woodlot for three years. Cherry heartwood is resistant to decay, so while the sapwood had completely rotted, the heartwood was still completely solid and full of moisture.
After the first twelve years or so, the tree’s growth rate slowed dramatically.
I wanted the inner surface of this one to have a very subtle tooled surface which is nice for serving and cleaning. At this stage, the bowl had dried and the cuts leave a crisp burnished surface. A couple holdfasts secure the bowl solidly and simply.
Partly because of the overall proportions of this blank, and partly because of the effect of the side panel on the interior shape, the hollow was too steep for the bent gouge to negotiate alone, so I also used a spoon bent gouge with a similar sweep that allowed the cuts to blend together well. The bent gouge is a Hans Karlsson 90 sweep 40mm. The spoon bent gouge is a Pfeil #5 25mm.
The sketch below indicates how the side-panel, by extending the rim/sidwall down and out to a point, calls for a steeper hollow to avoid a thick wall section. With relatively narrow side panels, as in this bowl, the effect is limited. It is much more pronounced in bowls with larger side panels like the Bengt Lidstrom bowl in this post. To accommodate those side panels, Bengt cut the interior sidewalls very steeply, undercutting the rim before returning in a curve toward the bottom.
The sketch also provides the basic order of operations when working a side panel into the exterior of the bowl. First, through hewing, then shaving, create the facet for the side panel. It’s upper edge will be the line representing the outer rim that you laid out on the top side of the bowl blank. The lower edge of the surface you’ve just cut will be irregular and may extend far beyond your intended width of side panel. Draw a nice curve representing the lower edge of the side panel, then shape the rest of the exterior between that line and the edge of the foot. If you want to assure symmetry for larger side panels, this post offers some ideas.
I went with a simple but effective line of chip carving on this side panel. It allows for the size of the chips to gradually diminish as the side panel narrows toward the handles. I use the coping blade of my pocket knife, but any straight-edged sharp knife will work. I sketch lightly in pencil first which allows me to make all of the cuts in a series in one direction first, the point of the knife goes in deeper and the edge of the blade just touches the base line. With cuts made on both sides, I remove the chip by sliding the blade forward at a low angle, working progressively from the center of the bowl toward the handle in order to cut with the grain cleanly. I’ve got a series of shots in the slide show below. The slideshow may not be visible in your email browser.
After all of the carving was finished, I slathered on some pure linseed oil, and set the bowl out for the afternoon in the intense sunshine. I have some photos of that in the slideshow below. I checked on the bowl periodically to make sure all of the surface oil was being absorbed, rubbing it around. If a puddle cures on the surface, you’re cooked! Then, when the sun went down, it went into the kiln at around 130 degrees overnight.
I should add, and emphasize, that I do NOT dry the bowls in the kiln! The bowls are dried relatively slowly. The bowls aren’t oiled until they are completely dry, then heat can be used to help cure the oil faster. This can dry the bowl just a bit more as well, so the foot may need to be flattened slightly afterward.
What a joy. Happy carving!