My new bowlmate

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Re: My new bowlmate

Postby ToneWood » Sat May 12, 2012 9:28 pm

I have a new bowl blank. It came from a big, heavy, complex and problematic branching, deeply scarred round. After some deliberation, I split it very carefully last week. Anybody remember an old TV series called Diamonds? I felt like the diamond-cutter on that program - mulling over the flaws, trying to work out the best way to cut the massive stone/log without shattering it into pieces. I used the old splitting wedges that I cleaned up & sharpened recently and a piece of plank from a pallet to line things up. It worked, for the most part - a smaller branch knot remained, which I managed to split off today w/o any loss of useful wood :).
Awkward blank split 360.jpg
Awkward blank, first split. Note chocked, uneven bowlmate (fixed now).
Awkward blank split 360.jpg (89.09 KiB) Viewed 10976 times


Remember that discussion about Bowlmate slot length above? Well this blank was almost 19" long - about 1"-2" longer than the ~17" slot in my Bowlmate! However, I'd allowed some cut off space at either end - a tip picked that up from Jogge's DVD. So I trimmed off the most troubled end and it now fits the slot perfectly, without the need for any wedging :). This bowl blank is a big mutha. If all goes well (touch wood), I will carve this into a large round bowl, as it is wide as well as long. It occurs to me that this might be the largest bowl I will ever make, as the round was big and heavy. I probably should not have carried it up the steps & garden but I felt strong and healthy and knew to bend at the knees, back straight & chin up. My outdoor chopping block has a significantly larger diameter, so more awkward to carry (I carried that alone too) - but is not as tall. Once split though, it became manageable (the blank constituted only about a 1/3rd of the total wood) - still a hefty blank to haul around though.
Initial blank over bowlmate slot.jpg
Before
Initial blank over bowlmate slot.jpg (65.09 KiB) Viewed 10976 times

Blank fits bowlmate.jpg
..and after. Bowl fits tight, bowlmate legs are now even - deep joy! :) Oops, I left the bark on :(
Blank fits bowlmate.jpg (126.72 KiB) Viewed 10976 times



My bowlmate is too high, with this massive blank on top. I could stand on a platform, as Jogge did in his DVD - I could use an old an old pallet. Or I could take this opportunity to try to even the legs up. While the latter sounds good, I vaguely recall a comedy in which somebody tried to do this to a table or chair and, after several attempts to shorten the longest leg(s), ended up with 4 legs about 2" long ...and a wobble! :D I did attempt to shorten the longest leg previously and it just seemed to make things worse :(. [If there is a trick or technique to help even out the legs, please let me know.]
Last edited by ToneWood on Mon May 21, 2012 10:27 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: My new bowlmate

Postby DavidFisher » Mon May 14, 2012 5:30 pm

Before you attack your bowlmate, consider if you even need it to hollow this bowl. The weight of the log will do pretty well to keep it still while you are hollowing. Just put it up on something that gets it to a comfortable height and start hollowing. Much easier to shift it around for a more comfortable swing too.
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Re: My new bowlmate

Postby gavin » Mon May 14, 2012 8:21 pm

ToneWood wrote: I did attempt to shorten the longest leg previously and it just seemed to make things worse :(. [If there is a trick or technique to help even out the legs, please let me know.]

Refer Mike Abbotts first book - Greenwood Work The chapter on windsor chairs has some useful tips on levelling a chair leg. As I recall it is by placing all 4 legs on a level surface. Rock the chair to work out the height difference. Transfer that height difference on to a scrap of wood. Mark then remove that height from one of the legs on which the chair is rocking. Simples! A Japanese hassunme ( spelling? ) saw will be a great help.

Edit: just twisting the leg in a bowlmate's mortice is even easier - no leg will be straight .
Last edited by gavin on Mon May 14, 2012 10:03 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: My new bowlmate

Postby ToneWood » Mon May 14, 2012 9:48 pm

Thanks Gavin, I was thinking of getting "the Mike Abbot book" & then discovered he has written 3, so far. :D

Actually my bowlmate is completely even-legged now. :) One of the legs fell out (loosened when I flipped the bowlmate over to saw one of the legs) and I noticed it is a little curved, near the top. So I rotated it 180 degrees, to see it would make any difference and that completely evened everything out. Couldn't believe it. Perfect.

Thanks David. Yes it is pretty heavy, I'll give that a try. For my last bowl, I wedged the blank into the tyre/tire that is screwed to the top of my big outdoor chopping block - not perfect but it was ok. I just discovered your "Tools in Action" bowl carving video - thanks for making that, a round bowl too :) (absolutely gorgeous bowl - love the tool marks). However, it is missing something at the beginning: how do you prepare the top/face of the bowl? Uneven tops have been an unfortunate characteristic of my bowls so far, so I wanted to prepare this one better. I've already had to axe away about 1-2" to clear out the soft pith - hadn't expected that with oak, although I should have, it's occurred in everything I've made so far! Now I need to even it up and flatten the surface - but how? I've done what I can with my draw knife but its really too small (12" with 6" blade) for this blank (18"x14" now). I'm going to have to watch the Jogge DVD again - I recall that he used a very big draw knife at one point (perhaps one of those Gransfor de-barking models?) but can't recall it is was before or after hollowing out. Or maybe I can do it with the axes, I don't want to chop much more, otherwise I'll end up loosing too much wood, but I can probably plane with the axes. Or maybe I should hollow first and even the edges afterwards?
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Re: My new bowlmate

Postby ToneWood » Mon May 14, 2012 10:41 pm

Just watched few bits of Jogge's DVD on the PC. I was wrong, he didn't use the huge big Gransfor draw knife, he used a regular draw knife (maybe 10" blade?). Also, he didn't didn't use it before or after hollowing but between adze hollowing and gouge hollowing/smoothing. He also used a metal spoke shave - I have one of those but it seemed to small to tackle the whole face.

BTW Jogge also mentions removing the pulp wood first - but if you'd blinked you'd have missed it. It's a very good DVD.
Last edited by ToneWood on Tue May 15, 2012 12:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: My new bowlmate

Postby DavidFisher » Tue May 15, 2012 3:17 am

gavin wrote:However, it is missing something at the beginning: how do you prepare the top/face of the bowl? Uneven tops have been an unfortunate characteristic of my bowls so far, so I wanted to prepare this one better.


I use an axe, then a plane. You can take off a lot of wood quickly hewing with an axe. Before I draw and begin hollowing, though, I usually smooth up the surface a bit with a plane. I grind the plane iron to a good radius and set it to take an agressive cut. I usually work it across the grain.

Thanks for your comment about the video, and sorry for the amateur quality of the filming and editing. As you saw, It certainly doesn't show anything even close to the whole process, just a few bits. Maybe I'll get to put something more complete together sometime.
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Re: My new bowlmate

Postby ToneWood » Tue May 15, 2012 7:29 am

Thanks David. I have an old Marples M4 plane with a split handle* - hadn't thought of using that but it is probably usable. I just dismantled it to sharpened it - now just have to figure out how to put it back together!**

*Somewhat similar to this but a tad rustier:
Image
**Handy plane links:
Stanley assembly pamphlet.: http://www.tooltrip.com/tooltrip9/stanl ... sheets.pdf
http://www.using-tools.com/planes-woodworking.htm


I was only kidding about the video, I'd just come in from the garden wracking my brains about this specific issue. It was good to stumble upon your video. If it had shown you planing the surface, I'd have suspected divine intervention :D. By removing the soft pulp, I put an irregular groove down the middle. I may need to do a little more careful axe work but I'd rather use draw knife & plane at this point, to avoid any "accidents" than might remove too much wood.
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Re: My new bowlmate

Postby ToneWood » Wed May 16, 2012 9:02 pm

BTW Do folk normally include the sap wood in your bowls? I was planning to, as to remove it would reduce the blank size significantly (again!), by several inches in fact.

[Plane-talk moved to new plane-thread.]
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Re: My new bowlmate

Postby ToneWood » Mon May 21, 2012 10:50 pm

As the legs on my bowlmate are now even :), I have started to gradually flatten and level the base of the main slot - it was sloping about 15 degrees!
Bowlmate - Flattened slot base 350.jpg
Bowlmate, level with slot base (somewhat) flattened & leveled.
Bowlmate - Flattened slot base 350.jpg (73.23 KiB) Viewed 10976 times

[BTW I have added new images tonight to earlier posts above too, to break up my text a bit]
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Re: My new bowlmate

Postby ulfhedinn » Thu May 31, 2012 6:58 am

My Stihl 032 has a very good blade brake on a pivoting plate that almost touches your forward wrist when you're using the saw. If the blade kicks back, the brake is activated when the plate touches your wrist, and the blade stops fast enough to keep you unmodified. I've rarely seen a safety device that works so well and interferes with normal work so little!

The plunge cutting is fast, and with practice can be fairly accurate, but you're still going in one side and trying to aim the tip at the line on the other side. If you're so worried about the chainsaw, though, why not make up a Continental-style framesaw with a narrow blade? Strike your line on each side and get a friend for the other side of the saw, so you can each keep track of a line. It'll be more accurate, with a narrower kerf. No noise, the blade should be cheaper than a new saw chain, and you can build the frame yourself. And you don't need to load yourself down with safety gear either--it would take real talent and dedication to maim yourself with a framesaw.
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Re: My new bowlmate

Postby ToneWood » Thu May 31, 2012 1:24 pm

I like the idea of a non-chainsaw approach. I prefer not to user power tools. Presumably you need to drill a hole first to get the blade in?

My cheap little Ryobi chainsaw works fine though, it too has a kick-back chain brake (I think they all do now, except specialist climber saws). I was using a new chain (I like to alternate between two chains, so that one is always soaking in bar oil) - the Oregon 91VX, which seems to be significantly safer/lower kick than other low-kick "home-user" chains I have used. I've switched back to the Ryobi OEM chain for now (which is a cheaper Oregon low-kick chain - it works better for stab cuts) - but for normal use cutting logs for firewood the 91VX is a great, safer choice for home users. I bought several spare chains after I damaged one quite badly processing a large tree. If the chain gets damaged, or dull, you need to change it straight away as they can damage the bar/sprocket(s), and vice versa. You can get Arrow chains very cheaply off ebay - cheaper than getting a chain professionally sharpened. I also have a Stihl chain. For small consumer chainsaws the spares are quite reasonable, especially for the most popular sizes, if you shop around.
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Re: My new bowlmate

Postby ToneWood » Sun Jun 17, 2012 11:24 pm

They say "ain't nothin' new under the sun". Take at this youtube video of a Swedish clog-maker c. 1923 (e.g @ the 00:56min* & 01:55min mark): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wGDkliy1 ... re=related Looks awfully similar to a bowlmate.

Also features some interesting tools, including a v. wide flat adze, side-axe, L-shaped gouge, 2-man plane, large wooden bow saws and a cup adze being used to make a spoon. I was wondering what the chair-maker was using for glue - hot pine resin perhaps?

*Hadn't thought of doing axe chopping on the top. Or sawing in the slot, @01.12m.
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The Beatles

Postby ToneWood » Wed Jun 20, 2012 1:03 pm

I made a new froe mallet/beetle recently. I reckon the original is large, so this one is XL, or possibly XXL. Like the original, I will likely fine tune its shape & balance as it gets used.
The Beatles - froe mallets L & XL.jpg
The Beatles - froe mallets L & XL.jpg (170.4 KiB) Viewed 10888 times

I left a large heel to help balance the larger head - but that also increases the overall weight. The original is beech and feels lighter & drier now. I think the new one is sycamore ("great maple"), it feels much heavier & denser but it is still fresh/wet.
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Re: My new bowlmate

Postby ToneWood » Thu Oct 11, 2012 1:56 pm

The big heel on the froe club above was a bad idea, the handle snapped after a few uses. However, my son re-stored it for me by re-carving the handle (twas a bit too big & heavy before anyway).

I've had a few ideas for tweak to the Robin Wood Bowlmate:

1. Gavin mentioned drilling holes all the way through, to ease dismantling - if you need to transport your bowlmate to shows for example. I found drilling those big holes hard, noisy work - and, even if I was able to eventually drill all the way through, the holes might appear in inconvenient places on the top. However, it occurred to me that you could drill smaller diameter holes (e.g. 1cm diameter) from the main leg holes to the top surface - then you could use a metal rod/punch or dowel to knock the legs out.

2. Alternatively, if you did drill the big leg holes all the way through and don't plan to move your bowlmate anymore, you could use a wooden wedge to hold each leg solidly in place - much like wedging an axe handle. Jogge Sundqvist & Drew Langsner do this to stool legs, etc. in their respective books.
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How long should bowlmate slot be? Extending bowlmate slot to

Postby ToneWood » Mon Jun 03, 2013 1:35 pm

Q: How big should the bowlmate slot be?
A: 20 inches if you are working on large bowls...

Reasoning:
I'm working on 2 large bowls:

1. My Leylandii bowl, was too big for my bowlmate by 6 or 7" (the blank was more than 23" long, final bowl 20"). I would have needed a 23"-24" slot to have worked on that one. (Instead I placed the bowl-blank in a big tire on top of my chopping block)

2. The second one, oak, is 19.5" raw. Frustrated at not being able to use my bowlmate again, I opted to widen the slot (to 19.5") in the top of my bowlmate. I did it with a medium size (2"?) metal bowsaw, used as a mini-2-man saw with my son :). I took it all out of one end, so could easily extend the slot more - by at least the same amount at the other end.

Things to consider:
1. Large bowls require a large slot: final bowl length + 3" spare.
2. A bowl can be too big. What is a good size for a bowl? I think my 20" x 5" deep Leylandii bowl is too big. While it is probably just the right size for somebody, somewhere, I think it is likely too big for most folk/homes. Some of the more experienced forum members have hinted at this before.
3. Having a very large slot might make it harder to wedge smaller blanks in place.

Conclusion/Suggestion (my 2 cents): if you plan to make large bowls, you'll need a longer slot to work on them. 20" might be enough/optimal as very big bowls can be impractical/cumbersome - good for final bowl lengths of upto ~17".

Note: my next bowls, after the above, will be smaller reverse bowls - I need a break! :D
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