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-  The Carving Process  -

'Black Cherry Burl' Carved Bowl
by Steve Schmeck

Off to work on a new bowl just as spring is threatening 
to tempt us to awaken from another cold Upper Peninsula
of Michigan winter. Of course with over a foot of snow still
on the ground a I begin this bowl, I'm not too worried about
becoming distracted by outside chores yet.

This Black Cherry Burl was the smaller on of two given to 
me by a neighbor - it nearly made it to the firewood pile!
It is quite green yet. Wet & heavy as I prefer the wood to
be for ease of carving and, in the case of cherry, that 
wonderful cherry aroma as I work.

This will be a smallish, handled bowl. There are some 
interesting possibilities here.


 The Carving


This piece of cherry is about 15" long and 8" in diameter. The burl sort of  wraps around the central part of the tree. I'm trying out a new heavy-duty tilting vise sold for use by musical instrument makers. March 1, 2007


I've chipped off the bark and have begun creating an isle down the center between the parts of the burl that wrap up and around. I planed off a spot on the bottom area and glued on a block of wood to grip in the vise.

There was a rather big jump in time as the hollowing out of the bowl area was slow work. Slow but rewarding, as the burl grain revealed itself as layer after layer was removed. I have cut out some of the upper rim to visually lighten the effect. That block on the bottom has held on well in  pite of some pretty vigorous gouge and mallet work. 


This goose-neck scraper is just the right tool for this kind of hand work; smoothing of the inside of the bowl area. It is a flat piece of shaped steel on which a very small cutting edge is burnished. You can see the paper-thin shavings in the bottom of  the bowl. Slow work but when you are done, you're done. No sanding needed. It is also the only way I know to really get all those bumps and hollows out of the bottom. March 13, 2007

Cherry Burl: Handled Bowl
( This bowl is now in a private collection )

Well, as you can see, this bowl turned out just fine. Over the next few weeks it will receive several more coats of varnish-oil so it will have a bit glossier look than in the photo. The burl was full of small surprise voids, especially in the bottom area. Some of these natural voids go all the way trough the bowl - no grog in this one. The grain patterns are just amazing; like little worlds unto themselves. April 20, 2007

   Updated 02/15/2022