How Long Does it Take to Turn a Bowl

There are many facets to answering that question.  One could talk about the physicality of collecting and handling the heavy wet logs.  Because we cannot see beneath the bark, we must use “x-ray” vision (past experiences, successes, and failures) to anticipate what we will find and use that vision to chainsaw a bowl blank that will best exploit the wood’s unique grain, patterns, defects and shapes.  Then there is the rough turning of the “green” (wet) wood.  Sometimes, we get fooled by the tree.  Once on the lathe we may find that the wood reveals other than what we expected, and we must re-evaluate the plan.  Sometimes the tree wins, hence our philosophy, as quoted by John Jordan, “Life’s too short . . . to turn crappy wood!”


Did you know, it takes, according to the wood industry, one year per 1″ of thickness for wood to air dry?  For us, that means at least a year before the 1-1/4″ or 1-1/2″ thick rough turned green wood bowl can be finish turned (thicker/longer for larger bowls).  Another factor is the unpredictability of the tree. One can only exert so much influence on wood.  Wood has a mind of its own; some (sometimes many depending on the wood species) rough turned bowls crack during the drying period.  A cracked bowl for us is a failure.


Okay, now a year has gone by, it’s time to design the final shape, execute the fine tool work that will reduce a 1-1/4″ thick rough bowl to 1/4″ -5/16″ even thickness, and sand (and sand and sand).  Then we could talk about 3 to 4 coats of finish with painstaking hand rubbing between each coat.  The end result is a bowl that is pleasing to hold with a “smooth as a baby’s bottom” finish that you can display with pride for years to come.


Ultimately, the real answer to “how long does it take”, we would suggest, is that It has taken us nearly 10 years to develop the expertise and “x-ray vision” to be able to read the wood and execute the fine turned vessel we envisioned in our minds eye and that we are proud for you to display on your table.  The amount of time is incalculable and perhaps even irrelevant.  It is a function of experience, expertise, and the expression of our creative vision.


Pick up one of our bowls and imagine how it got from the tree to your hands.  We love what we do.  We hope you do too.


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