Back to the “bowl from a plank” that I started in this post a couple weeks ago. After preparing the blank and laying out the hollow and rim, I began to hollow the bowl. Remember, this plank was completely dry. In fact, I think it had been kiln dried a few years ago. I can tell you, the adze doesn’t sink in nearly as deeply as it does into green walnut! After getting most of the bulk out, I switched to a gouge and mallet. Not only because of its effectiveness in this dry wood, but because of the shape of the hollow which descends steeply from the rim.
That’s my #8 30mm bent gouge in the photo above. I’ve recommended it as a first-gouge for anyone getting started in bowl carving. You can remove a lot of wood fast. A heavy mallet absorbs the shock of the blow and drives the gouge forward. I set aside one of my usual carver’s mallets and grabbed the much heavier mallet I made twenty years ago with an apple wood head and a sugar maple handle. It’s sweet.
Even on a narrow bowl like this, the cross-grain trench provides a stop cut of sorts. You can see how a heavy chip like the one being taken above will run out at the trench rather than run through to the opposite side.
I moved to a gouge with a slower (flatter) sweep to do the final paring of the interior, then moved to the outside. I went straight to the drawknife for defining the rim and shaping the outer side walls. I’ve been using my Bowl Horse 2.0 now for a few months and I’m very happy with it. I made several adjustments in terms of construction, dimensions, and details that have all proven to be changes for the better. I’ll be sharing more about this and I’ll be making very clear plans and a full building tutorial available.
After shaping the sides, roughed out the compound curve under the deep handles with an axe. Then refined them further with drawknife, adze, and gouge.
For the final shaping and surfacing of the sides, I worked in rows by eye with the drawknife, one row at a time from rim to foot.
On the end panels, I worked across the grain with a #3 gouge by eye, curving the rows slightly. Since the end wall bulges out at the center, I stop about halfway across to work with the grain as much as possible, then flip the bowl around and work toward the middle from the other side. The flutes merge in the middle.
After doing both ends of the bowl, I touch up here and there, shifting the lines one way or the other slightly by shaving a little heavier to one side of the flute.
I’m still not completely settled on what I’m lettering on these handles. To experiment with different ideas without writing any more on the wood itself, I placed a sheet of paper over the bowl and ran my fingers over the edges, leaving an impression of the bowl’s outline on the paper. I can now take this away from the bowl itself, darken the outline with a pencil, lay tracing paper over it, and play around with design after design. The paper can’t always conform to the complex curves of the surface, but close enough for the purpose.