Friday, February 08, 2008

Carving bowl rims

One of the most common questions I get asked about my kitchen-safe bowls is how I make the decoration around the rim. Many think I use a machine, and woodworkers sometimes think I use a chatter tool.

Neither are correct. I use a traditional woodcarving gouge, which when properly sharpened will cut nicely through hardwoods like maple and yellow birch. Normally I have the bowl mounted on the lathe with its outside surface facing me. But the three big bowls that I mentioned earlier today were only ever mounted the other way round, meaning that I had to work from behind the lathe. The easiest way I found to do this is to perch myself on top of the lathe. I felt somewhat like a gargoyle up there, but it gets the job done quite comfortably.

Bowling along

Cyndi left a comment on my last post asking for an update on progress with all those bowls that I am working on. I 'm pleased to say that I have been busy, too busy to blog apparently, and they have now all made it through step two of the process. They have now all had the outside of the bowl turned, sanded and the decoration carved around the rim. Here they are, stacked in boxes in my gallery, the only space I seem to have available at the moment:-

As you can see, there is quite a range of sizes here, from 4" to 17" diameters. So whether you want a bowl to snack on peanuts while you watch tv, or a salad bowl for a big dinner party, I expect to have something soon that will suit your needs.

You have probably noticed that the very small bowls and the two large bowls in the picture above have had their inner surface turned and sanded too, which is the third step in the process. I did all the small bowls one day when I had the lathe set up for another job (a fridge door handle shaped like a rolling pin!) and while the chuck had a small set of jaws installed, I decided to go ahead and turn all the bowls that would need that setup. You see, I like spending my time turning wood, not fiddling with machinery.

The three big bowls had to be dealt with slightly differently in that they were big enough for me to screw them to a faceplate, skipping step one, and doing steps two and three at the same time. Here is the last of the of the big bowls which is on the lathe at the moment, ready for final sanding and carving the rim decoration. It is a whopping 17" diameter and 5" deep, one of the biggest bowls I ever made.