Sylva Spoon

A Kinky Mandrel And Some Manly Odours

Thomas BartlettComment

Apprenticeship Day 20

At the Monday morning meeting the agenda was bowls, bowls bowls. And cups. So bowls, bowls, bowls and cups. We got into a pretty good rhythm last week, so Jarrod wants to keep that momentum going. Next week I'm home for the Holidays, so we're going to push on and see how many bowls we can crank out this week. 

I spent the morning outside by the woodpile, chainsawing out a bunch of bowl blanks. Just over an hour sawing led to twelve prepped blanks. I stacked those by the basement window and headed in. 

 It was surprisingly warm out. I put on about twenty layers, but I actually worked up a bit of a sweat. 

It was surprisingly warm out. I put on about twenty layers, but I actually worked up a bit of a sweat. 

Jarrod wants me to try and get 2-3 bowls turned to the template and with some hollowing. After turning my first bowl of the day, Jarrod wanted the next one roughed out but not shaped. He used that one to make a new bowl for another template. So I'll be working to two different templates this week.

I managed to hit my quota of three bowls for the day. Being the overachiever he is, in the same amount of time Jarrod finished two cups, two bowls and had almost finished the new bowl design. There's been an interesting side effect to all this hard work. With Jarrod and I, two burly manly men, sweating away at our respective lathes, we create quite the stink. The pungent wall of body odour waiting to greet you as you enter is almost enough to bring a tear to your eye. Hopefully the fresh bed of wood shavings will help mask the musk.   

Wooden bowls and cups

I did have an issue with a kinky mandrel on the third bowl. Seems that the tenon is a smidgen too thin. So I had to remove it and remount it with some birchbark in the hole. If we hadn't done that, Jarrod suggested that we would never have been able to finish the bowl. Hollowing puts a lot more stress on the mandrel connection than shaping the outside.  

All the bowls I'm turning to the template have enough material around the core for a second bowl to be nested out of it. So for every bowl I hand to Jarrod, two will (hopefully) end up on the drying shelf. It's fun to push ourselves like this. To see how productive we can be. I don't think three bowls a day from me is too onerous a target. I'm pretty slow at the moment. That said, I'm not rushing to crank out as many as I can as fast as I can. I'm trying to match the template as close as possible. I'm also trying to understand how the different hooks work best, and what it is about their shape that helps them function. I'm also doing my best to leave a really nice surface on the bowls. That last one is particularly interesting. On one of the bowls I left perhaps the smoothest tool surface I've ever managed before. And Jarrod went and carved right through it. It's actually a nice way to practice. I know how fine a surface I can get now. I just need to replicate it when it counts. For me, that's what this apprenticeship is about. Not walking away with a stack of finished bowls, but to skip lightly away with the skills needed to make fine woodenware.