Wood Bowl

Wood Bowl

This is my first wood bowl! Let’s first cover the basics:

  • Start: March 30, 2008
  • End: January 5, 2019
  • Wood Species: Ontario Jack Pine

This is a short project in terms of labor but my longest project to date from start to finish! With family located in Northern Ontario, I vacation there frequently. While out hiking in the woods, I stumbled across an easily accessible burl on a tree.
I proceeded to extract it with a chain saw (poor tree) with the grand vision of converting the burl to a bowl one day.

Let’s dive into the chronology of the project with some images to help us understand the workflow along the way!

Over the many years that it sat on my shelf, I took passing attempts with either chisels or a hand drill to core out the burl with little success. Once I began seriously undertaking other woodworking projects (see other projects for more info!) and aquiring better tools, I decided it was time to take a serious stab at it.

My first step was to core out as much volume of the bowl as possible before having to move to smaller implements. I didn’t have a wood turning station or lathe so I resorted to using a hand drill with as large a bit as I could manage in the recesses of the burl.

Constantly check the bowl thickness. Calipers are very handy for checking thickness. It's better to work more slowly and cautiously when coring out the burl.

Next I needed to find a way to safely and accurately remove any remaining bulk wood from the bowl and to evenly hollow it out.
Precise control here was critical because penetrating through the bowl edge was a non-starter. I considered my dremel a prime tool for this task. After experimenting with various bits (smoother wheels tended to simply burn the wood), I settled on a carbide cutting/shaping wheel from Home Depot1. This task was tedious and required complete focus so as to avoid penetrating too deep through the wood.

Next, I moved on to sanding the cored out burl starting with 80 grit and progressively moving to finer and finer grit ending with 1200. This sanding was all done by hand and proved to be the largest time sink, ~4hrs.

Side View: After sanding

Top View: After sanding

My final step was to stain the bowl! For this I used Watco Natural Danish Oil2 following the instructions on the back of the can.

Thanks for reading!

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John Dallas Cast
Software Engineer

My research interests include computer vision and deep learning.