Gathering the Timber
All the wood that I use is salvaged after storms or from arborists that have already taken down the tree or branch. No tree is ever taken down for the purpose of my craft. There always seems to be plenty of wood available looking to have a second life. After all, wood grows on trees!
Collecting the wood around town is where the life of the bowl starts and has provided me the opportunity to meet lots of interesting folks within the community.
Log to Stalk
This is where I get to see what figure and color lies within the logs. I use a chainsaw to cut the logs into manageable pieces, ideally with at least one flat side. From here, the wood can be mounted directly to the lathe to turn or brought into the shop to be processed further.
Bandsaw and Rough Turning
Most of the timber that I bring into the shop goes through the bandsaw to be made into either bowl or pepper mill blanks. The rough turned bowl gets turned to a general shape but is left at about 1-1 1/2" thick. This allows the bowl to dry while allowing enough wood for the bowl to warp and still be turned again on the lathe to its final shape. Typically a rough turned bowl takes 1 to 2 years to dry before its ready to be turned to completion.
Drying the Bowls
Once the bowls are rough turned and the rest of the wood cut into size, I cover end grain in a wax emulsion. This helps stop the wood from checking and cracking as it dries. It slows down the drying speed of the wood significantly, and patience certainly is needed when working with wood.
Final Turning, Sanding, and Finishing
This is where the bowl is turned to its final shape. Light passes and a gentle touch come into play with the final shaping. Sanding follows this shaping... critical, but the least exciting part of the process.
The most exciting part of the process for me is by far watching the wood grain "pop" while applying the first coat of walnut oil. This incredibly gratifying. Each bowl gets three coats of oil. Once completely dry, they are inventoried and ready for their new home.