At the winter of 2018 I decided to follow a private study of silent bowl cutters. I had built a 2 story log cabin in Canada and always nurtured a passion for wood and trees.
I purchased almost all of my spinning gear from the wood turners catalogue and have been amazed ever since on the way the equipment and tools lived up to my expectations and arrived lightning fast.
At precisely the exact same time which I built my lathe table (a Nova DVR specifications downloaded from the net), I set out to find sources for logs. I placed free ads on craigslist asking for big logs which resulted in my obtaining some very big Dutch Elm logs and a few medium size Cypress logs. Additionally, I called various firewood suppliers, many of whom didn’t have entire logs available or timber that was favorable to wood turning. But, 1 tree cutter did call me and he expressed a true love of wood and interest in helping me to locate decent wood. I drove to his storage yard where I discovered large diameter logs of cedar, oak, pecan and enormous slabs of black walnut which his dad had saved and protected.
On another occasion I stopped by a firewood yard in the foothills and looked out on an infinite supply of huge rounds of walnut, ash, and species unidentified. I soon had a good stockpile of logs that I piled in the colour of a grape tree in my backyard and thoroughly coated with a plastic sheeting. I retained the logs off the floor with pieces of firewood and timber I had lying about. On average, excluding the black walnut which was pricey, I could fulfill my Ford Explorer with big chunks of wood for about $ 40 to $60. In contrast, upon seeing stores that supply bowl blanks, I found that most resale blanks were both small and expensive. One blank could cost as much as a truckload of un-split firewood.
Not with a garage to house my own gear, I built a little shed using plywood along with a tarp to protect my job place. I use a small BBQ cover to protect my lathe inside the drop. My tools are readily available from a shelf below the lathe seat.
I purposely avoided purchasing costly equipment like a band saw or unnecessary instruments such as grinding guides, etc.. My intention was to create natural looking rustic bowls using the smallest amount of gear as possible.
There are many opinions on what tools and equipment are necessary, how to control your tools, the way to sharpen your tools, what’s the right wood to use, and what makes a suitable bowl…I chose to just plow through it, do my own thing, and find out as I go. The series saw, lathe, bowl gouge, sander and grinder are in the heart of what I do.
I began looking at other artist’s bowls in celebrity stores and online. I saw that the most beautifully finished hollow forms sitting behind glass on shelves. . .only $800.00! I also found web sites with really nice bowls for sale for such a low cost that I can not envision how the artist could pay for their turning supplies.
My lack of expertise and utilitarian interest in bowl turning caused me to think my job could be sneered at by seasoned professionals. That’s when I realized I do not have to please different musicians; there are people who discover imperfections most intriguing and I must admit that when fruit or a salad mix is placed in a bowl with different imperfections, the overall look is very attractive. I’ve had buddies remind me to not move too far away in the rustic allure of my very first bits and I have taken their suggestion to heart.