Sometimes it seems like you just don’t have the right tool for the job, starting with picking up these logs.
When I saw them on Craigslist they looked to be about 10 inches in diameter and a few feet long.
Turns out they were 22 inches in diameter and 5 feet long. Big.
The right tool would’ve been a truck with a winch, but I made do with a minivan and some ratchet straps. These things were super heavy.
I had helpers when it came to de-barking…
…and then we used wedges to split the logs.
A good friend came and helped with the splitting. Here we’re prying apart a log that has split, but just won’t separate.
We goth both logs halved and then decided to quarter them.
Afterwards we stacked them and my 9 year old painted their ends for me.
To mill the logs into boards I built a saw mill out of 2x4s, a 2×6 and two scaffolding jacks. The right tool for this job would’ve been a nice large bandsaw mill (then I wouldn’t have even split the logs, I would’ve just milled them whole).
I started by screwing the log to a piece of plywood so it wouldn’t rock or slip.
I then positioned the log close to the chainsaw mill’s I-beam.
I then used the jacks to lower the I-beam until the saw was at the desired height.
Here’s a shot showing the finished surface. Not too bad.
Here’s another view of the chainsaw mill.
And the mess that was left over.
If all goes well, I’ll get these logs cut into boards and stickered (stacked, with spacers between them) in the next week or so. Then I’ll let the boards dry, and in a year or so I hope to turn this cherry wood into some nice nightstands or something for our home.
The scraps will be used for wood turnings, tool handles and carving.
This was made from the other half of the maple crotch that my last bowl was made from. The crotch was split vertically, so that both halves had the fork in them. Looking at this picture now, I think there must’ve been two main forks, with a double fork on one side where the dark inclusion is on the picture below.
I started by cutting a flat-ish surface on one side and tracing two large overlapping circles on it. Then I used the chainsaw to rough out the the shape. I cut the corners to roughly round, then cut a taper on the bottom.
I really admire and aspire to be the guys who can do the whole thing from start to finish with only hand tools, but I don’t have the talent, time or patience to do it that way yet.
I felt like I was finally getting the hang of the adz with this project. I got the bowl to within 1/4 inch or so of its final dimensions with the adz before I felt like I was going to screw it up. The problem with an adz (or any tool) is that if you’re using it and go to far, you can’t undo it. The adz uses a chopping motion, like an axe, and I just need to practice to get more control over the depth and precision of the cuts.
After the adz, I switched to the bowl gouge for the inside and the spokeshave for the outside.
You can see that by this time I got to the gouge had long abandoned the tidy double circle shape I had sketched out on the blank originally. Somewhere between the angular crotch grain, and getting it down to size I went astray.
On the one hand, I hope to someday be able to sketch a design and stick with it for a bowl, and be able to make the wood (and my tools) follow my intention. On the other hand, I love the more organic look that follows from following what the wood and happy accidents lead to.
This bowl was pretty tricky to get finished well for several reasons. End grain is always hard to carve or cut smoothly and this bowl had it in spades. Wood grain is like a bunch of straws bundled together. When cutting end grain, all those little straw ends want to stick up and tend to tear out.
Then, where the crotch comes together you get this part of the wood with interwoven grain. This make really neat ripple and shimmering patterns in the wood, but makes the wood extra dense and even more difficult to cut.
I was really hoping that this would be the bowl that I was able to finish without sandpaper and have it come out smooth, but between the end and cross grain, and my inability to get the razor sharp edge I wanted on my gouge, I ended up doing a finally smoothing with the random orbital sander.
Finally, I finished it with mineral oil and beezwax. I applied 3 or 4 coats over the course of a week, and used a hair dryer on the first coat to really heat the wax so it would absorb deep into the wood. The rest of the coats I would apply, then let it sit for a few days to soak up the oil and wax. Finally I buffed it with a dry rag.
The bowl is about 18 inches wide by 10 inches across, and probably 5 inches deep. I should’ve measured to be sure.
I almost always like the stuff that I make, otherwise I’d just burn it and make something else, but this is one of the first bowls that was actually a little bit hard to give away! I’m really happy with how it turned out and I hope that future bowls will turn out as well as this one!
It’s made from a maple crotch, so there’s a big bark inclusion going right down the middle, and you can see the center rings from both forks, one on each side of the bowl.
It’s been a while since I did any turning, and I had to re-learn the right feel of how to present the tool on the work, especially with the bowl gouge when working the inside.
Here’s how it ended up after last Saturday. There were several rings and gouges that I wasn’t really happy with, but it was getting late and I wasn’t getting any better.
I left it on the faceplate though, so that I could put it back on the lathe later if I felt more motivated.
Well, the weekend passed and I decided that I wasn’t going to be satisfied with how thick the walls were, or the big gouge marks, so I put it back on the lathe and started thinning things down.
I did have several more catches which ruined the rim and I had to make the bowl shorter to clean them up. You can see that the bark inclusion is now all the way through the rim, where there had been solid wood on the rim before.
Unfortunately this meant that the bowl was much weaker. I actually tightly wrapped the bowl in masking tape while turning the insides so it wouldn’t fly apart. The base was screwed to the faceplate too, so there was enough support.
In fact, once I took the tape off, I could grab both sides of the bowl and make pull them apart a little bit. To compensate for the weakness I drilled two holes on each side of the crack on each side of the bowl, and made these walnut handles from a log I had sitting around. The handles have pegs that fit into the holes in the bowl. I put some watered-thinned wood glue in the crack, and then glued the handle pegs into the holes.
After that, I did one more pass with 1200 grit sandpaper and wiped it all down with a mix of mineral oil and beezwax.
The handles are slightly offset, but I still like it. It was great to get back to turning. I’m glad the weather is getting warmer!