hewn bowls coming along slowly

finishing cuts on interior of hewn bowl

This is what happens when a joiner makes hewn bowls. I have read of, and seen, many benches and methods for holding this sort of bowl for the finish cuts made with a wide sharp gouge. Robin Wood, Dave Fisher and Drew Langsner all have made or adapted effective benches for this work. BUT I don’t make these enough to warrant a dedicated bench. Come to find out, the holdfast grabs the bowl well enough to do the job.

This bowl I started about three weeks ago, it’s from catalpa. (sometimes called “catawba”) a medium-soft hardwood. Ring porous, it feels a bit like chestnut in working it. The part I did today was great fun. I took a very sharp wide gouge, quite shallow, and made paring cuts to smooth off the work I did with a curved adze and gouge back when the wood was very green. Today I was getting nice burnished surfaces.

It doesn’t look like it, but this is very physical work. My left hand is appyling pressure downwards on the shank of the gouge, as well as providing the pivot with my left thumb…it’s hooked over the edge of the bowl, and limits the amount of travel of the gouge.

gouge cut
finishing this cut

It’s great fun. This is the sort of stuff I learned (again) from Jogge Sundqvist this past summer at Country Workshops. There, I started two smaller bowls from a crooked section of birch. these are coming along slowly; but for them today I used the workbench with a vise – couldn’t grab their weird shape with the holdfast.

goose bowl in vise
bent gouge on small bowl interior

These are going to be chip-carved and painted…but maybe not til next month. I have one more, a larger birch bowl that I started while waiting for the catalpa bowl to dry some…now it’s waiting while I finish the others…then I’ll stop. Unless some good wood falls in my lap, as these did.

next bowl

so, the links – here’s one of Robin Wood’s posts about the bowls he teaches…

Country Workshops has been teaching this stuff for over 30 years; www.countryworkshops.org ;
Dave Fisher has wonderful bowls, and made a great bench to hew and shave them on http://davidffisher.com/home ; and Jogge is the best, I’m still reeling from the week-long class this past summer. http://www.surolle.se/ 
here’s some of my blather about that work (maybe it’s ALL of my blather about it!  https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/?s=Jogge
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4 thoughts on “hewn bowls coming along slowly

  1. Catalpa is an amazing wood. It is soft sure enough but if you can find enough it is great for outdoor furniture, I have has a slab stool outdoors for 20 years. I never finished it and it has gotten dark dirty and fiuzzy but it still works. Tell me how you finish the bowl and its intended use.
    Jennie

  2. Love the bowls — particularly the birch ones. Looks like the goose bowl has undercut sides, which I really like, but haven’t done much. I haven’t yet done a full-fledged ale goose, but it’s on my list. Holding these things is always a challenge. The more common “dough bowl” shapes are easier to secure — which may be part of the reason they are more common!

    Really interesting to see the catalpa being used — you don’t see it used often. We had a big catalpa tree in the yard when I was a kid, and I had a good time playing with the long pods (we called them beans) that it produced. A few years ago, my inlaws had a huge catalpa taken down and I made them a big bowl from it. I was amazed at how sponge-like the green wood was. Pretty porous even when dry, but it makes a great fruit bowl.

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