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Trimming the Ears

*Below is a step by step description of the wooden bowl making process- provided by Brandon Toler.*

"Making a wooden bowl is easy, you just take a piece of wood and remove what doesn't look like a bowl."

You want to try to find a tree with the right grain that's most likely to stay intact while hitting the wood. Look for a piece as straight as you can get it.

Your first cut should take place about an inch or so away from the heart of the tree. The heart tends to want to pop our or crack while making a bowl, so we don't want that giving you problems later on. This cut gives you the top of your bowl.

A good sized bowl should be about 16 inches long and about 8 inches wide, but there isn't really a set number. You can make it anything you want it to be. You just want it to be square with everything. Now you're ready to hit. Start roughing out the inside with an adze.

Use a straight gouge or a curved gouge to make your gouge marks straight and pretty. Typically use the gouge by running it along with the grain. I use a straight gouge then move to a curved gouge to get the bottom of the bowl.

For cutting off the ears, you'll need a chainsaw. Start by cutting off the excess wood at the angle of the inside of your bowl. That way you don't have as much wood to take off to get the shape you want. Shape up the outside of your bowl by hitting it with your adze.

Get your straight gouge back out. Begin cleaning up the outside- just like you did the inside of the bowl.

Now you'll need some sandpaper and a lot of time. Begin sanding away at the bowl till you get everything smooth and the bowl sitting flat.

"I took off swinging away at a block of wood with hopes of my own wooden bowl. It didn't last long. My arm was tired, swelled out like a balloon about to pop. I had to pry the adze away from my hand- it was beginning to cramp around the handle."

To finish your piece, you'll be rubbing it down with oil. Use any oil you'd like, but I always see if people will be putting food in the bowl, in which case i tend to use mineral oil.

If the bowl is just a decoration piece, I always use a boiled linseed oil.

You oil the wood so it dries out slowly and doesn't crack.

While letting the bowl dry out, you need to keep an eye out and keep putting oil to the bowl.

This is a slow process, but it's worth the wait.

"I started making bowls about 4 years ago. I joined my buddies Chigg, Boogs, and Sam up on the mountain for a class on it."

I joined a bunch of older fellas standing around whacking on a piece of wood with an adze. It was a wild sight. It struck an interest in my heart, and that's what I was really after.

"Let me tell you, I was proud chipping away at that first hunk of wood. It finally started looking like a bowl. A messed up, thick, ugly bowl: but a bowl.

Get some friends together, eat good, and make a couple wood chips fly. Just don't forget the final step; be joyful. You just made a hand carved bowl!


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