Goose-Inspired Sugar Maple Bowl

What a dull world if we knew all about geese!

Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac (1949)

Geese still hold plenty of mystery for me. In this part of the world, they are Canada geese. Their abundance makes them easy to take for granted, but they’re fascinating. I’ve glided in a canoe unaware of how close I was to a nesting goose, her body absolutely still and head low in an attempt to remain unseen. Many times, walking along the riverbank, I’ve been loudly scolded for my intrusion. Often, I’m able to just watch as the geese, unperturbed, glide along the water’s surface. They seem to speak of contentment with muted honks.

Geese swim not far from where this crooked limb of sugar maple grew. It was cut off by the railroad company and left to the side of the tracks that run along the river. After splitting it along the pith and looking at what I had to work with, I began to see a “goose-inspired” form in there.

Above is what it looked like after the green carving stage, when I left it to dry. Not much extra material left, but still most of the work remains to be done.

Taking into consideration the figure in this piece of hard maple, I took everything down to a smooth surface. It made the most sense to me for this piece in terms of workability and aesthetics.

This angle shows the curl that was especially present through the tightest part of the crook.

The scrapers I had on hand weren’t able to reach into the area behind the breast very well, so I rooted through my scrap box of odd metal bits and came out with an old folding saw blade that I had broken in use. A strip of tape worked fine for some quick protection from the teeth.

I ground the broken end down to a curve then briefly and simply ran that edge square along a fine diamond stone. I did the same for the back of the blade while I was at it, then got back to work. Shavings!

The blade was able to reach in and then sweep back along the hollow.

The back of the blade was able to take heavy cuts in this crisp maple, serving as a shaping tool as much as a finishing tool. After the edge tools, I was able to go right to some very fine sandpaper to smooth the final surface.

The final dimensions came out to about 16 inches long, 4 1/2 inches wide, and 8 inches high. This one is flying west.

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28 Responses to Goose-Inspired Sugar Maple Bowl

  1. Trefor Parry says:

    Beautiful work, as ever, Dave. For some reason scrapers haven’t figured that highly in my carving toolkit. Thank you for demonstrating their advantages. I am going to use them more often now.


  2. Very nice! Even better than the one I bought from you some years back, which I treasure. I appreciate your work and you helping others with their attempts. All the best.


  3. Brilliant use of material and very resourceful use of an old saw blade. Congratulations on creating an absolutely stunning finished piece. Thx for sharing it with us.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Holly Cory says:

    Beautiful goose bowl sculpture. I always enjoy your work and comments. I’m not a wood worker, but I appreciate the art and skill. I teach art appreciation, nature and character to K-3rd grade students. I want them to develop life long passions – just like you share.


  5. Michael says:

    Another beauty, Dave. So elegant. Do you have any pictures of the branch you started with? I have a hard time picturing the original stock, looking at the finished piece.


  6. Bob says:

    wonderful Dave, after reading thought you may like this. deepwildjournal.comc

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Carl Newton says:

    A truly lovely sculpture, that just happens to also be a bowl!


  8. Adam Wilson says:

    That’s some lovely wood you’ve got there Dave. I was wondering if you ever used rifflers or rasps in your carving work at all ?


  9. Kent Townsend says:

    David beautiful bowl always inspiring. Talking about scrapers Peachtree Woodworking in Georgia
    has the perfect set of 7 small scrapers different shapes and sizes. I use mine for almost everything.


  10. profmicken says:

    Really lovely. The end result captures the shape of the wood/branch and grace of the goose. Spectacular!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. francedozois says:

    another beauty–any flying east?


  12. Ken Newby says:

    Fantastic work again Dave! Thanks for sharing your work, it’s very inspiring

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Skip Florey says:

    Very pleasing imaginative form. Nice that you came across a gem in the rough. The curl figure is especially nice. Maybe next time a picture of the limb would be nice so we can see the transition.


    • Dave Fisher says:

      Thanks, Skip. See my reply to Michael for a piece similar to this one that shows the limb. Best I could do in this case; can’t seem to find a photo of the limb, if I took one.


  14. Richard McCarty says:

    Such incredible grace and beauty… Another amazing piece – thanks for sharing….!


  15. hiscarpentry says:

    I recently used an old silky blade to make a scraper for some fluted pilasters I have been restoring. Always keep those things.


  16. Excellent work Dave the sweep and flow speaks of Sam Maloof and the wood grain speaks of George Nakashima which is of the very highest of Quality and you constantly achieve that. That the Goals I strive for in every piece I do, makes one work a little harder. Gene


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