Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Walnut Bowl

There comes a time in the making of every bowl when it is fish or cut bait. You start off with a piece of rough wood and generally cut away the bad part and see what is left over. That idea is usually expressed rather pompously as "I let the wood tell me what to do". It boils down to you work with what you have left over because that is what you have. (Sounds like life to me, don't you think?) Then comes decision time. You have to pick a shape and go with it. I suppose there are some basic rules, but when you have already spent a fair amount of time or money on a chunk of wood up to this point, you want to make the best of it. So you pick a shape and start cutting. The other half of the process is the wood only comes off -- you can't put it back on. Once it's gone, you are stuck with it (life again?), and the difference between good and pretty darn nice is less than an eighth of an inch. So you put a shape on it, hang your ego on it, go to work and hope for the best. That ego part is the hard part.

The walnut bowl shown here had a hitch. One way of attaching the wood to the lathe chuck is by cutting a recess in the bottom of the blank and then expanding the jaws of the chuck into it. When I cut the recess, I made it too big and my chuck would not expand enough to hold the bowl while I hollowed it out. Several different solutions would work, none easy. I finally decided to buy new jaws for the chuck and swap them out. After a trip to Highland Woodworking, burning up a Christmas gift card on a set of new jaws, and the rest of it went like clockwork. I sanded it up good and put one coat of Mahoney's walnut oil on it so far and I think it is beautiful. I still debate the shape and guess I will wonder a long time if it could have been better. But it is done now and I will add a few more coats of finish and then put it up for sale on the site.

1 comment:

Nelanie said...

It's beautiful! You are so talented.