Carving American Chestnut 4: Two Finished Bowls

Here are the two bowls I made from the American Chestnut I started with in a post in June. The one on the left is the one I highlighted through the series of posts, so I’ll start with a few shots of that one.

The pith-down orientation results in a growth ring pattern roughly parallel to the arch of the handles and in harmony with the upswept rim of the bowl. The effect is pretty pronounced given the color variations in this piece of chestnut.

Same with the concentric oval pattern in the hollow.

Here’s an overhead shot of that. Those color variations were relatively subtle until the oil hit the wood, then the chestnut really started to speak up.

The shot above shows the various facets of the exterior surface before oiling.

Once the oil hit, I decided to leave the character of the wood speak for itself rather than do any additional decorative carving on that upper side panel. Might have been a bit like writing a letter onto a sheet of the morning newspaper.

The design for the second chestnut bowl is mainly a result of trying to make the most of the given blank. The log had some defects that led me to this broad, relatively shallow, more-rectangular bowl. The widely spaced growth rings and the pith-up orientation created a sort of mottled pattern in the hollow. I ran the gouge cuts with the grain from handle to handle.

On the exterior, the large foot is a reflection of the broad shallowly-sloped bowl hollow.

I had some fun with bold crisp paring cuts with a 8 gouge.

This stand of majestic American chestnut trees escaped the blight for well over a century, but it found them eventually. The bowls are now out of my hands and will soon be with some folks who were part of the team that assured these trees will have a second life.

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12 Responses to Carving American Chestnut 4: Two Finished Bowls

  1. francedozois says:

    a very good way to save a memory of the Chestnut trees–nice work as always–

    Liked by 1 person

  2. William Auld says:

    Both are very beautiful – well done! The bottom of the second is mesmerising – almost seems to be moving like fish schooling …

    Liked by 1 person

  3. bcgconstruction4555 says:

    Fabulous work Dave, I too like the clean lines of both bowls. It’s back to the drawing board for me to try and improve on my work! Peter Bion.


  4. Gene Felder says:

    Dave, in one of your comments you mentioned that you let the oil speak for itself and not add any additional decorative carving…do you often add decorative additions after oiling? If you do, is there a time limit to do this, before the wood hardens too much from the oil? By the way, beautiful work!


    • Dave Fisher says:

      Really good question, Gene. I rarely do any carving after oiling, but I have done so on occasion. There’s really no time limit. Of course, if you wait a long time, there may be a significant color difference in the newly carved wood, but that will even out in time too. I don’t think the hardening of the oil would make much of a difference even over a long time.
      On the rare occasions I have decided to do some lettering or something after the oiling, the only minor issue is that the oil acts as a bit of a lubricant, so the knife slides along (too) easily. Friction provides more control I guess — or at least what I’m used to.
      In the case of this bowl, I was considering some chip carving on the side panel like that on the cherry bowl in this post: I would have done so even after the oil, but I decided against it after I saw the oiled effect with the grain.


      • Gene Felder says:

        Every once in a while I’m asked to put a name on a handle of a finished bowl and have always hesitated. Next time I’ll give it a try. Thanks for the info Dave. Stay well.


  5. Exceptional – so different, but both outstanding. And the underside of the second bowl is magnificent – I can just imagine what it feels like to hold it.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. John Reed says:

    As woodworkers we lost an incredible resource with the blight that ended the era of our American Chestnut. Beautiful work David, as always.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thanks Dave for featuring Chestnut. An Aunt & Uncle of mine lived in a home filled with Chestnut woodwork and my family still enjoys roasted Chestnuts during the holidays. Beautiful work and words, as always.

    Liked by 1 person

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