you’re shaking my confidence daily

Robin Wood's bowl
Robin Wood's bowl

Much to my surprise, a couple of weeks ago I won a wooden bowl in a contest on Robin Wood’s blog. ( )

So last week the bowl arrived in the mail.  It’s a nifty thing, we are all thrilled with it, but the kids now both want bowls…and while I often have these great visions of a house full of handmade this & that…at 3 1/2 years into kid-dome, I still have yet to assemble their chairs, much less make them woodenware.

But today I caved a bit, and made the first of a couple of bowls for them. Found some cherry in the firewood pile.  This was my warm-up bowl, after a year-long hiatus.

a joiner's bowl
a joiner's bowl

My pole lathe is essentially for furniture parts, but I have finagled some bowls out of it each year. I don’t aspire to be a bowl turner, joinery keeps me challenged enough. I’ll leave bowls to others, but I like making a few once in a while.

I don’t use any special set-up, no separate poppets, and I use my regular tool rest for the outside of the bowl. The inside has a dedicated tool rest. I use one hook tool, and a gouge. The hickory mandrel has a 5/8″ turned tenon, that now is worn down a bit, so that a shaving & the tenon produce a tight fit. The methods I use are not the most efficient, but they work. When I undertook to learn turning bowls, there was little to go on for a pole lathe. It wasn’t until later than I learned of Robin’s work. As one of my woodworking teachers, Daniel O’Hagan once told me, “I didn’t know I couldn’t do it…so I just dove in.”

BUT…I snapped the pole!


The first one I had lasted 14 years, this one barely one year…it looks like it snapped at a knot, so I am hoping the one I replaced it with will be no problem. However, I did look up quite a bit when the new (#3) pole went up…maybe my confidence is not shaken, but my faith in my tree selection…

PS: the above was yesterday. I made a second bowl today but had no time for photos. I’m getting the shape a little better on the 2nd one, that Ring of Saturn around the bowl that becomes the handles really has to be pitched. My first one is too flat, and is not as comfortable as Robin’s. The bowl turners are safe from me, it’s back to carving oak real soon.


2 thoughts on “you’re shaking my confidence daily

  1. That’s great Peter I am thrilled it inspired you to make more for the family, funny thing is when you eat your breakfast out of a bowl every day it quickly becomes a very personal object.

    Wouldn’t it be great if your kids are still eating their breakfast from that bowl you just made in 50 years time?

  2. Let’s see, fifty years from now, they will be about the age I am now…

    we are attuned to the personal nature of handmade everyday household objects, & you’re quite right. They make it interesting. Always nice to have some made by friends too. For example, one of my everyday spoons is over 20 yrs old, made by Jogge Sundqvist..Now you & I just have to meet up next time one or the other of us is trans-Atlantic!

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