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ing cuts until the sides are about in. from the interior pencil lines and the bottom is about Vi in. thick. When chopping near the ends of the blank, you should stop about in. in from the pencil marks. Otherwise, a misplaced swing of the adze could force you to lengthen the interior of the bowl.

The remainder of the hollowing work is done at a workbench, using gouges. (For more on carving gouges, sec aw «5, November/December 1988.) 1 secure the block with dogs or opposing wedges. An alternative hold-down that works well is to put a small block of wood in the bottom of the bowl and then use a deep-throat bar clamp. (Sec photo, previous page.)

1 like to start carving with a sturdy, double-hooped bench gouge that has a medium sweep and a 1 '/a-in.-widc. blade (available from Country Workshops, 704-656-2280). 1 cut radially (working toward the center from around the perimeter of the bowl) and carve from the rim toward the bottom. I generally slope the ends of the bowl at a gentle angle, about 40° to 50° from horizontal. At this low angle, cutting across the end grain is easier, and the bowl takes a graceful shape.

You can strike the gouge with a mallet to remove most of the wood, but it's best to make the final cuts by hand, using arm pressure and body weight to carefully control the gouge. You will gain some additional control and force if you place the fingers of your left hand just behind the cutting edge of the gouge. (See photo, previous page.)

Before the hollowing is finished, I return to the flat rim and carve the gentle curvcs shown in Fig. 2. I find it helpful to pencil the curving shapes I want on the ends and sides of the bowls, and then shape to the lines with a drawknife and spokcshavc.

With both of these tools, you can optimize control and quality of cut by skewing the blade to the direction of the ait. This lowers the effective cutting angle and lets the tool shear rather than chop the wood fibers.

After shaping the rim, I do more work to refine the interior. At this point, I sometimes switch direction on the interior and gouge lengthwise with the long grain. This will leave a smoother surface compared to the radial gouge work, which severs across the grain. However, with parallel cuts there is greater danger of cutting uphill into the wood fibers. Take long, shallow cuts to leave a nice surface.

Shaping the Sides

The interior is now done, so I can stan shaping the sides with a hewing hatchet. I hold the blank at an angle on the chopping stump, grasping the upper end. (See photo, opposite page.) First I hew off the corners, and then I shape the ends, taking a slicing cut that leaves a smooth surface. 1 gen-erallv leave the ends about in. to 1 in. thick at the rim.

To get clean cuts Ilea*, you need to use a hatchet that is as sliarp as a plane iron. Also, the side of the blade that registers against the bowl should have a very flat bevel or no bevel at all. A

hatchet with a rounded bevel will tend to glance off the wood.

When the ends are close to shape I begin hewing the sides, working from the middle of the bowl toward the ends. (See photo, opposite page.) I find it helpful to draw the exterior corners, so that I have an idea of the shape I'll make. I hew the sides until the walls are about x/i in. to % in. thick.

1 refine the sides with a drawknife or spokcshavc, securing the bowl upside down on the workbench with bench dogs.

As with hewing, you shave from the middle of the sides toward the ends. From time to time, chcck the thickness of the rim and sides. At diis stage, die sides can be shaved to % in. or even less. For strength, leave the rim a little thicker than the sides.

The exterior ends can be shaped with a drawknife, spokeshave or gouges. I prefer to use gouges, because I like seeing the gouge cuts across the end grain on my finished bowls. I work with die long grain, cutting from the bottom of the bowl toward the handle end.

Carrying the fair curvc along the butt of the handles (see Fig. 2) requires cutting directly across the end grain. I've found that a very sharp chisel pares across the end grain better than other tools. It also helps to use the chisel in a sideways, slicing direction.

Checking Proportions

The handles, sides, rim and interior of the bowl are now done, so it's time to take a closc look at the proportions of the work. I examine the bowl for shape, uniformity of thickness, and surface quality. I view the shape from all angles: above, sideways, endways and even from the bottom. The goal here is to make sure the sides are symmetrical, die handles aren't warped or tipped to one side and the opposite sides of the rim are in the same plane. (Sec Fig. 2.) I also pay attention to the line formed by the junction of the sides and ends.

When I'm satisfied with die shape, I usually decide to refine the interior, sides and ends with spokeshaves and a l-in.-wide shallow-sweep gouge.

The most frequent question I'm asked about carving bowls is, "how do you prevent them from cracking?" Indeed, most of the bowls that I carved IS years ago cracked as they- dried out. Hut cracking can almost always be prevented if you follow three rules:

1. Do not includc the pith of the log in the rim or bottom of the bowl. A bowl that includes the pith will chcck radially from the center as it dries out.

2. Dry the bowl very slowly and evenly. Old-time bowl carvers and turners used to bury green bowls in a pile of green shavings, so that cvapo-

To rough-shape tin* exterior of the bowl, first iw u liuteliet to hew the end* (above), then round the sides (below).

To rough-shape tin* exterior of the bowl, first iw u liuteliet to hew the end* (above), then round the sides (below).

ration from the surface would be slowed down. I find that I have even better drying control if the green bowl is placed in a plastic bag. then taken out once a day to air outdoors in a shady place for an hour or so. The wet bag is turned inside out to drv while the bowl is outside.

5. A thin, light bowl is less likely to crack than a thick, heavy one. As the bowl dries, the wood shrinks twice as much tangcntially (tangent to the annual rings) as it does radially (from the pith outward). During drying, a thin bowl will warp into a new and usually pleasing shape: a thick bowl warps anil cracks.—/XL

Final Details

At this point, I set aside the bowl so the wcxxl can dry and move. (Sec sidebar.) My bowls are quite thin, so they'll usually dry in a week or two. Once the bowl is dry, I can touch up and refine die surfaces with rcsharp-encd tools.

I prefer to let the final tool marks show on the surface of my bowls, but carvers generally sand bowls smooth. If you sand, it's important to raise the wood grain by wetting it before final sanding the bowl; otherwise, when the bowl is washed the fibers will lift, resulting in a fuzzy surface.

Finishing the Bowl

Bowl carvers have used a wide variety of surface finishes. Penetrating oils result in a warm, soft look, but some of them arc toxic. That's a problem if the bowl will be in contact with food.

My Swedish friends traditionally used raw linseed oil. This results in a very attractive and food-safe surface, but it takes about six months to dry. Some bowl makers arc now using a natur.il oil made from walnuts. Walnut oil is available in health food stores and has several unique qualities. It's perfectly safe (we think), and it doesn't turn rancid like other vegetable oils. Also, it's virtually clear. As with linseed oil, walnut oil cures slowly, but the curing process can be sped up to around one month if the oil is warmed before application. To avoid combustion, warm it in a double boiler, and have a lid ready to snuff out fires.

Bowls treated with walnut oil can be washed, though it's a good idea to re-oil them from time to time to maintain die protective coating. ▲ ►

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