Sunday, May 3, 2009

So Much Wood, So Little Time

This week I was multi-tasking. That means I worked on several projects and didn't finish any of them. Well, that's not quite true. I did finish my first bowl . . . . again.

The more I looked at the original, the less I liked that flower pot look. So I decided to get rid of it. I continued the concave curve of the side all the way up to the rim. I think it improved things a lot. I feel that it made the grain of the wood show up much more attractively. The next bowl I do I'm going to try to make the outside curve convex rather than concave. I'm not sure how that's going to turn out. I know it can be done. Coperthwaite's book has a page about a carver in Mongolia that turns (not literally) out bowls using an adze, axe and bent knife that look like they have been turned. The bowls have a base, a rim and a terrifically uniform convex exterior. Maybe when I get into my eighties I can produce bowls like that, too.

Project Number Two: I ordered a couple of bent knife blades from Mike Komick at Preferred Edge. I saw a handle style that I wanted to try out, so I decided to do it myself. I found some maple turning stock on sale at my local Woodcraft store and decided to give it a try. I've never carved maple before. It's hard! Not so much that I wouldn't carve it again, but it did take for freakin' ever to move wood! I decided to do the bulk of the wood removal with a wood rasp and finish with the knife. I call it a whale-fish. Whale because that's the general body type given the way you mount the knife blade; fish because whales don't have tails like that. I could have turned the tail the other direction, but then I wouldn't have had a place to put my thumb. 

Carving the teeth (he left his lowers in the glass when he got out of bed to come model for me) was an interesting exercise. It required some delicate maneuvering and a very thin-bladed and flexible knife (a Flexcut Detail Knife) to relieve the area between each tooth. Don't have it down pat yet, but it'll come. That flat opposite the whale-fish's head is where I will mount the blade when I get it; tomorrow, I hope.

Next time I'll have the knife finished, and I'll show you the progress on my Eagle Lovespoon. Until then, let the chips fly. 


  1. Bob, I really like what you did to the bowl! It looks much better with the concave shape running the entire length of the sides. The second spoon I carved was dry maple. I soaked it in water for about a week and a half which made it much easier to carve.

    Are you going to try carving a less geriatric fish/whale next? (one with all its teeth). ; )

  2. Thanks, Kari, I'm much happier with the bowl now.

    I hope you weren't soaking that maple in your bathtub for that long! ;)

    The whale-fish is coming back for a second sitting, with all his teeth.

  3. Yeah, it was a long week w/o bathing, but it was worth it. ha ha!

  4. I believe you are the first person I have ever seen attempt a bowl without a lathe! Well done! Who needs that fancy smance equipment? lol. On and about the maple. I have attempted to carve it a couple of times, just out of raw logs from a downed tree. With power tools it was "fuzzy" to work with, but it did take detail well. I never tried my chisels on those rather small pieces. I think the chisels would have been better since they are razor ( RAZOR) sharp and can cut through oak with that wonderful "polished wood" feel. But, i have not come across any maple logs lately. But I woudl bet a bandsaw would help out considerably with the rough out part. Everyone ( other than me, that is) has a band saw just lying around their shop....right?

  5. Ethan, not only do I not have a bandsaw just lying around my shop, I wouldn't have one! On the size pieces I work on, if you include the set up time, making a jig so I don't lose some important piece of my anatomy (my bow to safety week), and clean-up time, I'll bet I can do the job with a wood rasp in less time and with less noise.