Sylva Spoon

More Lidded Boxes

Thomas BartlettComment

Apprenticeship Day 25

Today followed pretty much the same pattern as yesterday. I rough turned boxes that I bandsawed out yesterday. Yesterday Jarrod worked through several boxes I had prepared for him. That meant there were plenty of free mandrels. I rough turned five boxes for him today. 


I then went outside to saw more boards into boxes. The slabs we have left are too thick to fit in the bandsaw, so I prepped them outside with the chainsaw. It's the same process as with bowl blanks. 

After lunch I rough turned another box as Jarrod had freed up another mandrel. That one was a little tricky. The maple we're using has spalted. Some areas have been touch and go whether they're too far gone to hold up. This blank was a bigger one, off the chainsaw, which doesn't leave a very smooth surface. Spalting that's too far along the decomposition process tends to be rough, difficult to get a good finish. The wood was also slightly frozen, so it was difficult to tell if the rougher areas were soft, another indication of spalting gone too far. 

However, using sharp tools and moving them slowly along the spinning surface, I managed to get an okay finish. If I'm able to get an okay finish, then Jarrod will probably get a mirror surface out of it.

To that end, when I started turning a bowl for myself, Jarrod challenged me to get the smoothest surface I could on it. I feel as though I did a pretty good job with it. Looking at the finished piece, Jarrod felt that the cuts were kind of 'aggressive'. While the cuts were smooth and even, they were more defined than the surface he gets. It might be down to technique, but it could also be the tools. 

wooden bowl

We also had a good chat about the bowls I've been making. I've turned five this week. Three full sized, two from bowl cores. Looking at all the bowls I've turned to completion since I've been here Jarrod suggested that I pick a design and make multiples of it. After he and Jazmine spent some time comparing all the bowls we made for the last bowl sale, Jarrod was impressed by the variance that happens within the same design. Wider or taller bowls cut to the same template, with different feet, lends to bowls that look better or worse. So by sticking to the 'limits' of one design, I should better understand what will work for that particular shape. Once I feel that I have a good handle on that, I can move onto another design. From my experience spoon carving, producing multiples of the same design, I see the value of this approach. I could just turn a different shape bowl every time I step up to the lathe. That approach won't teach me as much as getting to know one design really well will. 

After looking at all the bowls I've turned, and chatting a bit about my aesthetic I'm going to start designing then turning a simple open form bowl. It'll either have no foot, or a very short foot. Then I'll turn another one, and another one, and another one. After about the 50th bowl I might understand what works, what doesn't and why.