The First Rule of Bowls

Many of you are familiar with the First Rule of Holes: “When you find yourself in one, stop digging.”

You might now know, however, that there is a First Rule of Bowls: “Never make a bowl bigger on the inside than it is on the outside.”

I broke that rule this morning.

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This is a bit different from the silver maple bowl from a couple of days ago. In that case, I broke the tenon broke off because the wood was not sound. In this case, I just cut too much out of the bottom of the bowl.

So now it’s a lovely natural edge American elm funnel. Or lampshade. I’m not sure yet.

And so it goes…

I had a silver maple bowl roughed out, cut from the same chunk of wood as one I wrote about a few weeks ago. I was a little concerned, though, because this one had a large bark inclusion in the bottom.

Well, I put it back on the lathe this evening, and started smoothing up the outside. It hadn’t warped that badly as it dried, and the wood was cutting nicely. Part of the bark came through to the outside, leaving a void that, although a bit tricky to work around, was a nice element in the look of the bowl.

On to the inside. That was a bit rougher. The bark inclusion was causing a lot of clatter as the gouge cut easily through that and then hit the much harder wood. But I was making good progress, and nearly had it ready to sand, when BANG!

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The tenon on the bottom (which is how I grip the bowl in the chuck) snapped off. There was enough of the bark going down into the tenon, which weakened it too much.

I guess this one is bound for the firepit.