Bear paw (Chokecherry root)

Last summer, a severe wind storm hit the Pick City, ND region, where my brother-in-law’s family has a lake cabin, and a small chokecherry tree (prunus virginiana) on their property snapped off. My BIL and nephew yanked the root out with a pickup, and before they could throw it in the firepit, I said “I can make something from that.” And I did.
Almost everyone who’s seen it so far has said it looks like a bear paw.

I added some pyrography on the edge. 8″, Danish oil finish.

The worms crawl in…

…and now you’re likely singing that song in your head: “The worms crawl out…”

Seems fitting for this bowl.

There’s a lot going on with this one. It’s maple–I’m afraid I’m not sure what specific type, but likely either Sugar Maple or Silver Maple, as both are native to North Dakota. This tree was standing dead in the woodlot on my family’s farm, and I cut it down this fall for firewood. However, there was a likely looking crotch about 20 feet up, so I sliced it open to see what it had going on.

Bingo! Not just some nice crotch figuring, but also plenty of spalting, and some beetle larvae tunnels. There’s an old saying among woodturners: “If you can drink soup from it, it’s a bowl. If you can’t it’s art.”

9″ diameter, 2 1/2″ high. Danish oil finish.

Bowls #1 & 2

These are the first two bowls I completed–albeit¬†not the first I attempted. That one is what is called a “learning experience.”


I made these from a chunk of basswood I had been saving for “something” for a couple of decades. When I brought home the lathe, I said to myself “This is it.”¬†

I brought these to the MinnDak Woodturners Association meeting for Show and Tell, and Paul Hedman (the club president and a gifted turner) said “I don’t like working with basswood; it’s great for carving but I don’t like how it turns.” Of course, that would be what I’d pick for my first attempts.


Here’s a closer look at #2. I was pleased that I managed to get this one as thin as it is.