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-  The Carving Process  -

'Black Cherry Burl' Carved Bowl
by Steve Schmeck

Off to work on a new bowl just as spring is threatening 
to tempt us to awaken from another cold Upper Peninsula
of Michigan winter. Of course with over a foot of snow still
on the ground a I begin this bowl, I'm not too worried about
becoming distracted by outside chores yet.

This Black Cherry Burl was the smaller on of two given to 
me by a neighbor - it nearly made it to the firewood pile!
It is quite green yet. Wet & heavy as I prefer the wood to
be for ease of carving and, in the case of cherry, that 
wonderful cherry aroma as I work.

This will be a smallish, handled bowl. There are some 
interesting possibilities here.


 The Carving


This piece of cherry is about 15" long 
and 8" in diameter. The burl sort of 
wraps around the central part of the tree.
I'm trying out a new heavy-duty tilting vise
sold for use by musical instrument makers.
March 1, 2007


I've chipped off the bark and have 
begun creating an isle down the center 
between the parts of the burl that wrap 
up and around. I planed off a spot on 
the bottom area and glued on a block
of wood to grip in the vise.

There was a rather big jump in time as the
hollowing out of the bowl area was slow 
work. Slow but rewarding, as the burl
grain revealed itself as layer after layer was
removed. I have cut out some of the 
upper rim to visually lighten the effect. That 
block on the bottom has held on well in 
spite of some pretty vigorous gouge and
mallet work. 


This goose-neck scraper is just the right
tool for this kind of hand work; smoothing
of the inside of the bowl area. It is a flat 
piece of shaped steel on which a very 
small cutting edge is burnished. You can 
see the paper-thin shavings in the bottom 
of  the bowl. Slow work but when you 
are done, you're done. No sanding needed.
It is also the only way I know to really 
get all those bumps and hollows out of
the bottom. March 13, 2007

Cherry Burl: Handled Bowl
( This bowl is now in a private collection )

Well, as you can see, this bowl turned out just fine. Over the next few weeks
it will receive several more coats of varnish-oil so it will have a bit glossier look 
than in the photo. The burl was full of small surprise voids, especially in the 
bottom area. Some of these natural voids go all the way trough the bowl - 
no grog in this one. The grain patterns are just amazing; like little worlds unto 
themselves. April 20, 2007

   Updated 03/24/2016
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