How I go about re-carving a bowl

It’s a bit challenging re-carving a bowl. I started these in ages past by essentially winging it. Then getting to watch Dave Fisher make bowls for the past 4 years told me two things. I’ll never make bowls as nicely as Dave. And I can get them better than these were when I shelved them. If you want to see him work, Fine Woodworking recorded a lot of video of his bowl carving. I subscribed just for that and it’s worth the price. Then everything else on the site is gravy. https://www.finewoodworking.com/2017/11/02/ep-1-finding-the-bowl-within-the-log

I didn’t shoot the whole step-by-step; but here’s some of what I did. The main area I needed to address on these bowls was the bulky over-thick bottoms and end grain. First I needed a new lengthwise centerline. I snug the bowl between two boards, then shift these around so they are parallel and touching the widest part of the bowl. Take a couple measurements, fiddle around a bit, then mark out a centerline. From there, I can follow Dave’s layout for an oval on the bottom.

I didn’t shoot a true “before” image; but you can see the new layout on the oversized, too-rectangular bottom of this butternut bowl.

The whole premise of this week-long exercise was to quickly determine if these were worth saving. So large tool, in this case a Swiss-made #5, about 35mm wide. And a heavy mallet. Big chunks coming off quickly is the goal. If I’m going to ruin things, I want to do it right away.

After roughing it out with the mallet, I switch to hand pressure to fine-tune some of the shape.

Different bowl, same area, same problem. In this case, I have a large #2 gouge, thus almost flat. I’m using it bevel-up to round over the underside of this tulip poplar bowl. You can only go so far with this tool. Once the cut begins its approach to concave instead of convex, you need to flip it over to bevel-down again. And then I use a bent gouge, with more “sweep” or curve to the blade. Usually a #5 when I’m using the Swiss tools.

Here’s a detail of that cutting action.

 

Here my left hand is snugged inside the bowl, and my thumb is pushing the tool down into the wood. This helps keep it in the cut as I push forward with my right hand.

The butternut bowl. I did have a “before” photo after all – before I whacked off that sapwood rim.

Now its shape is defined, and I want to go back over it to fine-tune the texture.

There’s still a few bowls left to work on, but one is for-sure gone for good:

I worked on five different bowls this week, and all of them are at the “just-about-done” stage. Soon I’ll have them for sale, along with some spoons, boxes and I don’t know what else. They can’t go back in the loft.

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