After making many bowls, I’m still thrilled by the prospect of shaping a rough chunk of log into a finished bowl. The just-finished walnut bowl in the two photos above began with flattening the bottom and fairing the upper surface of a split log. Then I started in with an axe.
For large bowls with deeply swept rims, I sometimes begin the hollow with this 19″ axe. I make a deep v notch across the middle, then expand it toward the handles. I swing freely with a one-hand grip at the end of the handle, flinging the axe head into the wood. I’ve tried sawing a series of crosscuts to chunk out some of this material. Works ok, but the axe is faster and more fun. I switch to an adze for the rest of the hollowing.
After the hollowing, I roughly hew the exterior with an axe. An adze worked across the ends under the handles creates relief that allows for continued work with the axe.
Here’s another shot (above) of the material to be removed with adze work.
Here is the surface after going back to the axe to further shape the outside down to the roughly adzed area under the handles. Then the back and forth continues with more careful work with the adze:
Here, the adze has cut reasonably close to what will be the final shape under the handles.
And back to the axe again. It’s a wonderful, satisfying process, and, writing this, I can smell the fresh walnut chips again.
Some work with a drawknife and spokeshave refine the shape.
Of course, there’s lots of work after the bowl dries. Here’s a shot of carving the flutes. I was watching an old interview with Bruce Lee recently and he said, “And when you do punch, I mean you’ve got to put the whole hip into it and snap it and get all your energy in there.” That same advice is pretty good for carving these end grain areas and as close as I’m likely to come to a fight.
Eventually, all of those flutes come together.
This one is for sale. (Update: SOLD) It is 16 1/2″ long, 11 1/4″ wide, and 6 1/8″ high. The price of $975 includes insured shipping within the U.S. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested. Here are a couple additional photos: