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Natural Edged Pear Bowl

natural edged pear wood bowl

I am somewhat of a neophyte at making natural edged bowls. I recently was given a whole Bradford pear tree and feeling flush with raw material, I was persuaded to take some risks I do not ordinarily take. As you hollow the bowl, part of the time your gouge is floating in the air. It takes a lot of tool control to keep from knocking off the fragile bark on the undulating rim.

This tree was cut in September when it was still full of sap. I found that Bradford pear sap is like glue and I would have to frequently change band saw blades to get the wood cut up in proper dimensions for turning. Well, that glue set up and made the bark unusually adherent so that it made for more allowances of imperfect technique than any other natural edged bowl I ever tried to turn.

The bowl was turned green to final dimensions, and sanding green wood does not work. Furthermore, trying to sand a fragile spinning undulating rim was just too scary for me. This meant that there was much more hand sanding in the finishing process after the bowl had completely dried. Wherever you have figured wood it dries with a very uneven surface. Here I used my cabinet scraper to good end to remove wood faster than hand sanding. I was surprised that the bowl dried without checking and with very little warping. It was most noticeable in the base which would not sit firmly on a flat surface without some attention from my carving chisel.

For finishing I applied and sanded out a couple of coats of de-waxed shellac and then finished with a coat of tung oil. I read recently that de-waxed shellac is compatible with any other kind of finish applied over it. This sealing of the grain prevented the tung oil from penetrating so deeply that it would take months to dry completely. I was satisfied with the finish which had not even been waxed yet.

See this bowl in my bowls gallery here.

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Tim April 19, 2011, 10:26 am

    These natural-edge bowls would make great additions to any home with rustic decor. This is the stuff that Bass Pro stores are made of! I don’t know a whole lot about turning, but I was looking online at some chisels for my lathe awhile back, and noticed an innovation of which you may or may not be aware. Some turners are using disposable carbide inserts, (meant for milling metal, I believe), mounted to steel rods, for turning tools which are said to hold an edge better and be less prone to overheating than conventional chisels. I considered ordering some inserts and making a roughing tool myself, but haven’t had the time for that kind of woodworking lately. Have you ever heard of or tried one of these?

  • Edwards Smith April 19, 2011, 12:55 pm

    Dear Tim:
    Thanks for visiting my site and taking the time to send me a comment. It is nice to know that you are being read.
    What I have found is you should learn to use whatever tool you have very well. It is not so much the tool as the person who uses the tool. I have no experience with the tool you mention. What I find is that tools that make one task easier give up versatility and will not do other tasks well. They have become specialists and are no longer generalists. I enjoy the fact that I can take deep aggressive cuts with my gouge with the Ellsworth grind and yet use the same gouge to make progressively more refined and finally the finest finishing cuts. If your tool will do all that then I might be interested in it. There is always a compromise in an tool. Remember that tool makers have to make a living. By continually bringing out new products they can sell more tools. It will be interesting to see if this new tool stands the test of time or whether it will disappear from the catalogues in a few years.

    Sincerely yours,
    Edwards Smith

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