The Learning Bowl

The Learning Bowl

Danielle Rose Byrd, Dave Fisher, Peter Follansbee , and Amy Umbel are all on my list of those that provide inspiration.  They are directly responsible for my initial attempts to make a wooden bowl.

My first attempt was to make a traditional Swedish bowl or bark up bowl.  I blame this on Danielle based on her wonderful instagram feed and Peter’s great video on bowl carving available from Lie Nielsen at  I highly recommend taking in person classes from makers, but life and college tuition payments has me finding alternate methods of learning.

A large Maple tree came down on my block and I was able to grab enough to make a carving bench and quite a few bowls, kuksas, and spoons.

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With the help of my son, we cut one of the pieces to about 18 inches and split the piece.  The result was what I thought was a nice piece of maple 18 inches long, 12 inches wide, and about 6 inches tall after removing the bark.

Learning bowl in progress
Basic layout and first bits of wood removed from a maple bowl blank

Along the way I found some punky material along the heartwood, not good.  But this isn’t about making a bowl to use, it is about learning.  So I continued.

Learning bowl - what is that?
A bit of punky wood near the heartwood. Not good!

You know how people ask how thin is too thin.  This is too thin.  But this isn’t about making a bowl to use, it is about learning.  So I continued.

Learning bowl oops
Keep checking for thickness. Frame your mistakes.

I worked the outside of the bowl, I worked the inside of the bowl.  I used gouges, a flea market spoke shave, and learned how to use my bench dogs for a new purpose.  All of this was done with a smile on my face, and a few choice words when things didn’t quite go as expected, and I learned.

Learning bowl WIP
Work in progress

Once it dried, I even attempted to do some finishing cuts inside the bowl and work the outside of the bowl with my spoke shave.  I found some very pleasing lines.  Then I decided it was time to learn some chip carving and kolrosing.

I’ve done some more bowls since then.  They’ve all gotten better with practice; less time taken to get further, and more functional.  This is important to me as my priorities are family and work, I think of green wood work as something I learn now so that someday in the future when the time needed for family and work change, I can do more.  What more is, is a good question.

Next post will lay the blame solidly on Dave Fisher.

Author’s note, I ”blame” many people for my actions.  Nice people might use the term inspire.  If I could find a sarcasm font I would use it regularly.

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