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-  The Carving Process  -

by Steve Schmeck

January, 2011 - Back in the shop finally! It feels good to be back among the aromatic cherry chips.

Last winter I pretty much focused my shop time on carving spoons and had a great time doing it. Fortunately, nearly all those spoons have found new homes and as seems to be my habit, I began this shop season carving spoons again. I have a couple of spoons, one Cherry and one of White Mulberry on the bench - almost finished, but was consumed by whatever to carve a bowl NOW. So the spoons can mellow a bit while this bowl comes to life.

We had two large wild black cherry trees a couple hundred feet to the south-east of the house - supposedly a  passive solar house, I might add. After years of postponing the inevitable, I had to take these huge sun-blocking trees down. The first tree I cut into showed some nice coloring caused by an overhead branch that had died many years ago. You can see the results of the mineral deposits in the wood of this bowl resulting from the opening in the tree where the branch used to be. Very pretty coloring.

So, here we go again. The bowl-in-a-tree soon to be released is on the bench.


 The Carving


I'm in the process of flattening off what will be the bottom of the bowl. You can see some of the nice color of this log


I usually prefer to make my bowls with three legs or feet and this piece of wood seemed to agree. On the left of the photo is one of the heavy-duty Pfeil gouges I use for roughing out a bowl.


The bottom and 'legs' or feet have been shaped with the gouges and then refined with a couple of rasp-like Microplane® tools. The rim shape was dictated by some major 'shakes' - nearly invisible splits, probably caused in this case, by the stress of felling the tree.

January  19, 2011


It took a while... Here is a photo of the bowl right after I oiled it today. The coloring did turn out nice and thankfully there were no weird surprises inside. This bowl is 12-1/2" x 7-1/2" x 4" and the rim is about 3/16" thick. Next step is to let it bask in the sun for a few weeks to deepen the heartwood coloring naturally and apply a couple more coats of tung oil. Then I'll give the bowl a final inspection and sign it.

During the time I was working on this bowl I carved a half dozen spoons. These will soon be posted for sale here on the ManyTracks site. The bowl may be entered in a regional art show and when the show is over, unless it sells at the show, will also be available for purchase here.      February 12, 2011