Carving a shallow bowl (part 1)

I’ve had some meranti sitting in a corner of my garage for about 3 years, since I pulled apart my original plane till. This particular wood has a lot of meaning for me, it was originally part of a set of bunk beds my Dad made for me when I was a kid so I’d been saving it for something special.

I decided I wanted to make a shallow bowl and it would be perfect for it so selected a length that had good grain. It had been badly stained when it was part of the plane till but that could be fixed.

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I worked out the size I wanted and used a small plate to mark rounded ends

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Using a coping saw, I cut one end to shape

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then the other. Not the neatest cut in the world so I went back and fixed it

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Then it was time to start hollowing out the bowl. I’d been given a carver’s spoon for my recent birthday, which is a concave plane, so used it to start removing the middle out of the bowl shape

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After I’d done that half, I turned it around and did the rest. The carver’s spoon makes very quick work of this process, and once you’ve used it for a while you learn how to take either deep or shallow cuts to get just the shape you want.

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The next step was to start shaping the outside, so I turned it over and have a look at it to get a feel for what I wanted to do

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Using the same tool, I started shaping the outside. You wouldn’t think a tool designed for the inside of a bowl would work so well on the outside but it does. I could have used a plane here but since I already had this tool in my hand I used it and was very pleased with the results. First one side was shaped

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Then the other side.

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Then I started shaping the ends

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Then it was time to start refining the shape now that I had it sort of where I wanted it, so I started taking less aggressive cuts with the carver’s spoon to to get the bowl to a smoother shape.

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Then I started smoothing it out with rasps, card scrapers and gave it a light sand, top

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and bottom

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To give you an idea of how long this was taking, I was at this point in around an hour from the time I picked up the original bit of timber to use. By this point it was late on a Sunday evening and the light was getting low, so I stopped for the day with plans to finish it the next weekend.

I did take the time to admire the pile of shavings on the workbench though, for some reason they always make me smile!

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