Cold November Rain

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As I happily remain in the shop this morning, in my head I hear Axl Rose’s refrain.

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Positioning the light for carving

I’m carving flutes along the outer surface of this little “wine bowl.” This is quiet, contemplative work that seems to fit a rainy morning.  The mood lighting is not an effect for the photograph.  I leave the overhead lights off and move this old desk lamp around to get a raking light that makes the ridges between flutes appear more clearly as I carve.

I do sketch some pencil lines to serve as a general guide for the fluting, but ultimately it is the subtle variations of the gouge cuts that defines them.

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Sam with cherry logs

As the day moves on and the neighborhood awakens, I’ll turn to more vigorous work on these cherry logs from a tree that went down up the road.  Most will get their ends painted and be set aside for awhile.  I may start to rough a couple chunks, as I did with one already.  Every tree, even within a species, has its own character.  Some are sweet and cooperative and others are more brash and resistant.  When I make the first piece from a tree, we get to know each other.  I’ve roughed out one bowl from this tree, and I think we’ll get along just fine…

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After hollowing the lip under the rim with the adze, I further shaped the area between that hollow and the bottom edge to form a flowing reversing curve.  There will be some photos of that when the piece is finished. I’ll have to wait for it to dry before I refine it, but I’ve got some other projects to work on before I “end up walkin’ in the cold November rain.”

 

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8 Responses to Cold November Rain

  1. Jen Shrock says:

    Love the lines on that wine bowl. Thanks for the lighting tip, too. That will definitely be tucked away for the future.

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  2. pfollansbee says:

    Dave – I count about 11 blocks there, if all goes right, at least 22 bowl blanks. My guess is you don’t enough time to get through that many bowls before that cherry goes “off” – sapwood turns ugly & grey, wood gets harder to work. I know I couldn’t manage it. Do you have any approach to deal with such a large load of wood at once? I know you said you’ll seal the ends to reduce splitting. I have a few instances where I’ve hewn out a few bowls, and let them dry. Wow – long rambling question – how many blanks will you work from this batch do you think?

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    • Dave Fisher says:

      Hey Peter. Twenty two blanks would have been a good problem to have! I actually busted those logs up this afternoon, and I think I’ll end up with more like ten — max. This tree was a yard tree that a neighbor had taken down; so several knots and other issues. So I had to reject many halves and cut some shorter. Those other pieces will make it onto the firewood stack to heat my house next year, and some of them will find their way into other projects like spoons or who knows what.

      Still, I want to keep those good pieces workable as long as possible. Depending on the season and other circumstances, I use different approaches. If a log is in a longer length with the bark intact, I just paint the ends and leave it. When I can get to it, I’ll cut it to workable lengths. I have found it to be green and quite usable even several months later. Of course, much depends on the rot resistance of the species and the time of year.

      Things are getting cold around here now, so I will store those split halves in garbage bags outside (in an out-of-the-way location, since my wife is not a big fan of the look of stacked garbage bags). Through the winter, there is really no concern with deterioration or bacteria growth, even with the pieces sealed in plastic bags. But the moisture is locked in, eventually even frozen in. When I’m ready for a piece, I’ll open up the bag and get to work. For smaller bits, like very rough spoon blanks, I’ll seal them in a bag, then keep them in the fridge or freezer indefinitely in the summer. Nobody was going to eat the celery in that drawer anyway!

      In warmer seasons, I can still store chunks in bags, but things deteriorate more quickly. One technique I use then is just as you mentioned near the end of your question: Get as many pieces roughed out as possible. Once a piece has gotten to the point where it can be left to dry, time considerations are gone. I could go back to it to do the dry-carving stage in a few weeks, or I could wait years. And the roughing stage — removing 95% of the material — takes little time compared to the dry-carving stage, even though there is little material left to work.

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  3. Paul Andersn says:

    Dave, A a cold day here also. We have snow on the ground in Minnesota. As I am roughing out a cherry bowl today it seems light is one of the most important tools in my shop. I am always moving that desk lamp around to get the shadows.

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  4. Nat Cohen says:

    Hey Dave,
    I love the latest posts. We are going to see some wintery weather coming in tomorrow too. I just got into some Birch yesterday that was horribly twisted and had some hidden pockets of punky wood once I started cutting it up for a bowl. Oh well, off to the woodpile. Happy Thanksgiving!

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