This weekend: Ian S, Oak bowl, carved reptiles & pallets

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Bushcraft link

Postby ToneWood » Sun May 27, 2012 11:02 am

Interesting (but rather long) bushcraft webpage: http://www.woodcraftwanderings.org/cutting.html
Last edited by ToneWood on Tue May 29, 2012 12:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: This weekend: Ian S, Oak bowl, carved reptiles & pallets

Postby bulldawg_65 » Sun May 27, 2012 1:14 pm

It's looking good Tone. Watch about leaving the bark on, eventually it will just fall off.
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Final shaping of the bowl

Postby ToneWood » Mon May 28, 2012 1:31 pm

Interesting. I have been trying to get rid of it gradually but didn't realise that.

I did a couple more sessions yesterday, since the above images, mainly spoke shaving & a little more gouge/chisel work. I make myself stop and check the bowl periodically - perhaps not often enough. When I packed up last night I realised that the floor of the bowl is now thick compared to the sides. So I used the draw knife to take down the bottom of the bowl a little - that helped remove some of the bark. I guess I will need to keep reducing the bottom of the bowl (and sides) until bark not longer appears on the bottom (and therefore the sides too). Judging by the thickness left, I took this into account when hollowing - but it might yet be a close thing, whether all the bark & "sub-bark" can be removed before the floor becomes too thin. I guess that's part of the challenge. I guess I could make it a round bottomed if I run out of wood.

The bottom & sides of the handles are now starting to match the curves of the bowl walls, so I can shave them with the end & side walls - need to be careful not to take too much off though. I had a knot disintegrate in one of the handles yesterday - but there was still plenty of wood left. Not enough enough for it to happen again though.

Bowl side profile showing handles sloping.jpg
Bowl side profile showing handles sloping.jpg (96.99 KiB) Viewed 7452 times


Looking at the top surface, one of my handles slopes down. I guess it always has but I had other things to worry about before. I suppose to get a perfect finish, I should flatten it and lower the rest of the top of the bowl to its lowest edge - but that would likely be awfully wasteful, reducing the size of the bowl significantly, not to mention requiring considerable, risky work. Perhaps a different approach would be to adjust the tilt of the bowl - there is still enough wood on the bottom to do it - but the rest of the top & other handle are already "square". I think it is probably just the way the grain runs - in which case trying to flatten it and forcing the rest of the top to align with it would likely be futile - quite literally "going against the grain". I am inclined to leave it as-is, I am somewhat comforted by a TV program that I saw long ago, which showed that some Middle-East (Persian?) carpet makers used to deliberately add an imperfection to their elaborate designs, to make it clear that they consider perfection beyond mere mortals.
Bowl - end sloping handle 1.jpg
Bowl - end sloping handle 1.jpg (89.53 KiB) Viewed 7452 times
Bowl - end sloping handle 2.jpg
Bowl - end sloping handle 2.jpg (79.48 KiB) Viewed 7452 times
Last edited by ToneWood on Wed May 30, 2012 9:22 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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What to do with the leftovers?

Postby ToneWood » Mon May 28, 2012 10:39 pm

Today, I started mulling over what I might do with the irregular, heavily scarred unused half (2/3rds) of my current bowl blank. It's acting as a rather unstable, tall, narrow chopping block at the moment. I'll have to stick stabilizers on it if it is to continue in that role. Was thinking about making one (or possibly more) smaller bowls from it - not sure if this is feasible though. Perhaps one of those reverse bowls where you start hollowing from the bark in? I'll need some kind of change after finishing the current big bowl!

The raised table/chopping block/workbench in the first post on this thread caught my eye. Could flip the block up, drill it and add legs (or ground stakes). Reminds me of Barn the Spoon of Bristol's axe block.
Last edited by ToneWood on Tue May 29, 2012 12:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Drawing big circles

Postby ToneWood » Tue May 29, 2012 12:49 pm

When I started the round bowl, I started looking around for a way to improvise a large compass (pair of compasses?) to allow me to draw decent guide circles on top & bottom. I ended up using a bucket lid for the top - it was almost exactly the right size, so I drew round it and then free-hand extended the radius by 1cm all round, simple :). For the bottom, I borrowed 3 plastic flower pots of different diameters & drew (nearly) concentric circles.
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The vintage gouge & modern chisel - sharpened edges

Postby ToneWood » Tue May 29, 2012 7:27 pm

By the way, when I started using the now straight-edged, sharpened & stropped vintage gouge, it just did not work very well at all, especially when compared to my HK gouges. A quick comparison of bevels showed the bevel on the vintage gouge to be much shorter than those on the the HK gouges. So I re-ground the vintage bevel closer to that on the HK gouges (maybe 7-8mm long rather than 4-5mm) - and now it works beautifully :). So much better. Another useful insight gleaned from using Swedish tools :).

The modern chisel worked very well for a while but then suddenly started juddering and became, well, rubbish. It had done much less work than the vintage gouge which was still super-sharp. I checked the edge and it looked and felt sharp & straight, although the bevel may have become a tad raised over on the flat side (hard to be sure without my reading glasses & relying somewhat on touch). Fortunately it was quick & easy to re-sharpen the chisel with my Ben Orford-style sharpening sticks & strops and it now has a crisp, shiny, better edge than it had before.
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Re: This weekend: Ian S, Oak bowl, carved reptiles & pallets

Postby ToneWood » Wed May 30, 2012 9:26 pm

I've added some images to a post above. Here are some new ones from tonight - still lots of work to do, sigh.
Bowl - bottom Wed evening - no bark, almost.jpg
Bowl - bottom Wed evening - no bark, almost.jpg (81.11 KiB) Viewed 7452 times

Bowl - plan view Wed evening.jpg
Bowl - plan view Wed evening.jpg (77.29 KiB) Viewed 7452 times

Bowl - side profile Wed evening.jpg
Bowl - side profile Wed evening.jpg (111.89 KiB) Viewed 7452 times

Tips & suggestions welcome - I really don't want to blow it now!
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Oak bowl colour/color

Postby ToneWood » Sat Jun 02, 2012 12:40 pm

I spent 2 long sessions on the bowl yesterday (will it every end!), including some more hollowing work inside the bowl and draw knife work on one thick side, outside. I was surprised halfway through when my bowl turned pale blue! I had been resting it on the surround to my son's trampoline and the colour transferred. Presumably the tannins reacted with the blue plastic surround.

Oak is pretty interesting wood to work with. The wood varies in colour, texture and character as you cut into it. I have come across red-brown streaks, which maybe where the blue-black tannins are coming from, clear sometimes yellowy solid streaks (which give sawn oak its characteristic appearance) and, yesterday, I came across "sap green" streaks in the wood, almost like grass stains. It is more complex that the other woods I have dealt with so far.

Bowl from top.jpg
Bowl from top.jpg (69.96 KiB) Viewed 7407 times


The bark has now all been removed. I can now easily hold the bowl with one hand, although it still has some weight to it. I used the 106 sloyd knife to tidy up the handles - the ends are yet to be sawn off. I spent some time leveling the base so that the top is reasonably flat/level. I asked my son to critique it. He suggests putting indents under the handle to make it easier to hold. The same thought had occurred to me but it might spoil the lines underneath, which came out better than I expected. I think the cross-gouge technique suggested by Sean (and used by Jogge in his DVD) might be the solution, I've used it some already to form the handles. Or perhaps I could put hidden indent hollows for the finger tips? The handles are quite narrow now though, narrower than I wanted. Perhaps removing the ends will help with that though.

Bowl & burner.jpg
Bowl & burner.jpg (81.45 KiB) Viewed 7407 times
Last edited by ToneWood on Sun Jun 03, 2012 7:02 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: This weekend: Ian S, Oak bowl, carved reptiles & pallets

Postby ToneWood » Sat Jun 02, 2012 12:55 pm

I have Bulldawg's dilemma too: when do I stop? I was looking at David Fisher's beautiful huge, round (walnut?) bowl on the video on his website, wondering how he got those fabulous "adze"/tool marks. Upon review, he actually shows you - he uses a gouge radially (and a draw knife outside to cut many facets). This wasn't obvious to me, because I went over the inside of mine with the broad 150mm radius HK dog leg gouge -- "feels smooth" as my son pointed out -- it removed most of the tool marks leaving a much less obvious tooled surface.

I hollowed out my bowl out a little more yesterday, particularly toward the handles/end-grain, where there is much greater thickness of wood, using the 55mm radius HK curved gouge. The texture looks more like David's - but not as deep, even or as attractive, if I'm honest. I don't want to copy David's original work (man that base cross would present some challenges!), so I think I will go over it all again with the broad 150mm radius* dog-leg gouge and maybe leave it at that - no scraping, of the inside anyway, and no sanding. So that it has smooth feeling but subtly tooled finish. I've spent many hours hand carving this and see no point making it look like it was turned on a machine in a matter of minutes (the women folk will disagree of course).

http://davidffisher.com/video_tools_in_action
(I aspire to owning one of David's bowls one day - just fabulous - and they sell so quickly. Perhaps for a significant birthday.)

Not sure what to do about the outside texture. So far I have been spoke shaving the surfaces - which are still quite hairy. The bowl is less conical now and becoming more, well, bowl shaped. Shaving it when it is dryer might be all that is needed. I may scrape the outside, perhaps even sand it. Or maybe I should cut facets with a knife. I need to look around for ideas. (Suggestions?)

I'm thinking the sides * base should be about 1cm/0.5" thick and the end grain maybe 2ccm/1" thick - I think those are the guide lines suggest by Jogge on his DVD (will re-check shortly!).

*I wonder if the HK 150mm radius gouges are similar in effect to the Chris Pye 2.5 sweep "finishing" gouges
Last edited by ToneWood on Sun Jun 03, 2012 7:48 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Oak bowl - end is in sight

Postby ToneWood » Sun Jun 03, 2012 6:43 pm

The bowl handles worried me, so I got my design consultants (wife & son :)) to advise me on the bowl handles - v. useful:
I cut shallow grip indents under the handles - to make them more usable - and then used the curve of the new grips to create separate planes for the bowl ends and handles. That allowed the handles to be flattened and the bowl ends to be thinned, reducing weight & thickness. It took 2 of 3 attempts to satisfy my consultants but the result is I think subtle but effective.

Bowl handle - grip MK 0.5.jpg
The initial cuts ended up being a small round area above the one marked here.
Bowl handle - grip MK 0.5.jpg (42.35 KiB) Viewed 7407 times
Bowl handle - grip MK 0.5 side.jpg
The grip is subtle when seen from the side. But it allowed the angle of the bowl end and the handle to be changed.
Bowl handle - grip MK 0.5 side.jpg (59.28 KiB) Viewed 7407 times


I hollowed the bowl inside a little more; I decided to extended the hollow further towards the handle areas, so that it is slightly oval/egg-shaped rather than perfectly circular. It was starting to seem never ending. But then suddenly the end is in sight. I decided it was time to cut the ends off the handles off with my old wooden bow/turning saw, off ebay (nice tool, works well :)).

Bowl with grips before ends cut F&M hamper.jpg
Showing grips, before the handles ends were sawn off. The springy top of a Fortnum & Masons hamper (50p from a table sale) provided a useful work surface, when rain forced me into the garage today.
Bowl with grips before ends cut F&M hamper.jpg (98.07 KiB) Viewed 7407 times


I'll let it dry now for a week or two now before "finishing" it. Still not sure what to do about exterior surface texture/finish and decoration. I may forgo decorative carving/Kolrosing, I have practically no experience of decorative carving (the spoon carving proved useful when shaping the handles though) - with so much time invested in it, this is probably not the piece to practice on. Also, the shape doesn't seem to lend itself to elaborate decoration - the beautiful oak wood is the main thing, so perhaps the aim will be go make the most of that. It feels a bit of an anti-climax now. However, I already have my next project in mind, something new, more garden-oriented...
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Peter's brake / splitting big oak / bowl weight

Postby ToneWood » Tue Jun 05, 2012 5:00 pm

Was looking forum member Peter Follansbee's website, for information on froing and his brake. Came across this interesting piece on how he splits large oak rounds, scoring a median line across the top with a (presumably quite sharp) wedge first. Note the use of metal & wooden wedges: http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/tag/riving/

Video of Danes splitting big oak (from Peter Follansbee's website, see above, to make a viking ship, features viking axes ;) : http://www.vikingeskibsmuseet.dk/index. ... 0%255d=oak (Ray Mears would love the bow-driven drill).

More recent shots of the Diamond Jubilee bowl, showing cut down handles & in-cut grips. The bowl has been put away to dry slowly. I pretty happy with the shape. The weight has been reduced considerably but it is still quite heavy. I wonder if I should continue working the outside with the big plane and/or spoke shave, to reduce the weight further? Yes, I guess I should. Drying will lighten it some. I am experiencing "Bulldawg's dilemma", trying to determine when to stop without going too far.

Bowl - handled top2.jpg
Bowl - handled top2.jpg (62.54 KiB) Viewed 7397 times

Bowl - handled bottom.jpg
Bowl - handled bottom.jpg (52.87 KiB) Viewed 7397 times

Bowl - handled side.jpg
Bowl - handled side.jpg (91.66 KiB) Viewed 7397 times
Last edited by ToneWood on Wed Jun 06, 2012 1:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: This weekend: Ian S, Oak bowl, carved reptiles & pallets

Postby bulldawg_65 » Tue Jun 05, 2012 7:57 pm

Nice Job Tone! It really looks fantastic. Now for a bath in linseed oil! :D
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Re: This weekend: Ian S, Oak bowl, carved reptiles & pallets

Postby ToneWood » Sat Jun 09, 2012 2:48 pm

No bath yet - needs a little more work (famous last words!). I've spent several long shave sessions since the above pictures and the bowl is now noticeably lighter and the sides slimmer. Just about right - I could go thinner/lighter still but it doesn't seem necessary. I bought some clamps yesterday and found one them extremely helpful in allowing me to finish the inside of the bowl in my garage, out of the rains, without resorting to the bowlmate. I just posted a new thread on the clamps here (the second one is less than half the price and twice as good): viewtopic.php?f=2&t=2426&p=19241#p19241

Still not sure how to finish the outside. Perhaps just scrape it, and maybe sand the handles (a request from the wife). I don't plan to sand the inside, nor scrape it - I guess I could to a little carefully targeted scraping inside, if loose fibres are apparent.

Any suggestions for cleaning the bowl/wood before oiling?
I've been careful this time to keep the bowl very clean. As I approached the end, I stopped packing it in chippings and instead just put it in a thick plastic shopping bag, I keep my hands clean, washing them before starting work and dressing any cuts & grazes before blood can get onto the wood or my hands. It helps but the wood still ends up looking grubby from the tannins and perhaps wood dust/debris. I'm wondering if I should wash it somehow before oiling it - and, if so, how - just water/washing soda/soap/detergent/alcohol/bleach/...?
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Re: This weekend: Ian S, Oak bowl, carved reptiles & pallets

Postby ToneWood » Sun Jun 10, 2012 10:41 pm

I got some green ink on the bowl (the tannins seem to cause this) when it was resting on the plastic shopping bag I store it in :(. So I ended up washing that off with water and a little targeted hand soap. Seems ok.

I spent some time finishing the bowl today (more at: viewtopic.php?f=2&t=2422 ). Texturing the outside and rounding the sharp edges. Some light scraping. The end is now in sight.
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Re: This weekend: Ian S, Oak bowl, carved reptiles & pallets

Postby gavin » Mon Jun 11, 2012 7:03 am

Now we have Members Projects would ToneWood put his current projects there and not in this "Beginners Corner"?

I am not moderator but IMO "Beginner's Corner" is more for asking questions.
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