Making A Bowl

The Tools

The photograph shows the tools Martin used in making the bowl illustrated.  They are:

Carving axe.
Two spokeshaves.
Push knife.
Spoon carving hook knife.
Bowl knife.
Two carving gouges.
Hand adze.
 Bowl carving tools

Cleaving the Log

Once cut to length, the log is cleaved using a splitting wedge and lump hammer.  The wedge is carefully positioned on the end of the log so that it would pass through the centre of the log.  The wedge is then struck with the hammer splitting the log in two.  Having selected the half-log to be used for the bowl, the cleft face is flattened using an axe removing about 1cm of wood from across the centre of the log.  The bark of the log is also removed with the axe at this stage.


Splitting the log for a bowl

Mounting the Log on the Bench and Hollowing the Bowl

Having prepared the log it is then mounted in the bowl-carving bench.  While the log may be mounted either way up, Martin prefers to do so with the flat cleft face down.  This results in a natural wave edge in the final piece.  The log is secured in the bench using wooden wedges.

 Bowl blank mounted in the bench
A rough outline of the bowl hollow is drawn onto the curved face of the log.  The hollow is then formed using an adze. Carving the hollow of the bowl.

Refining the Bowl Hollow

Once the bulk of the bowl hollow has been removed with the adze, the shape is further refined using a variety of carving gouges and...

 Refining the hollow
...a long handled bowl carving knife.
 Furhter refining the bowl hollow.

Shaping the Outside

Having formed the hollow the outside of the bowl is then roughly shaped firstly with an axe and then a push-knife. The outside of the bowl is further refined using a selection of spoke shaves.


Shaping the outside of the bowl


The initial carving of the bowl is now complete.  The bowl is then wrapped in hessian and kept in a cool place to dry.  The bowl can only be finished once it has reached a stable weight.

The bowl illustrated had an initial weight of 650 grams.  During the drying process the bowl lost 237 grams of moisture, which represents over 36% of its initial weight.


Bowl after initial carving finished.
The graph is based on the record of the bowl's weight as it dried.  It shows how the rate of moisture loss declined over time.  At the end of drying the bowl had a stable weight of about 413 grams.  However, the weight of the bowl will continue to fluctuate in response to climatic conditions and where it is displayed.Drying record for bowl


Once the bowl had reached a stable weight, the inside of this bowl was finished using a shallow gouge to leave a gentle tooled finish.


Finishing bowl hollow

In contrast, the outside of the bowl was finished with a spoon carving hook knife that results in a "dimpled" texture.

The bowl was then sealed using food grade linseed (flaxseed) oil.  The bowl then had to be left for about a month for the oil to cure before use.

 Finishing outside of bowl
The Finished Bowl
Completed bowl