Maple Burl Square Bowl

My customer for this bowl was directed to my website by her interior designer. He had previously seen the square bowl there ( and she liked it but wanted it bigger. She contacted me to make one twice as big and of course I said yes!

My bandsaw could not handle the uncut burl’s dimensions for this project so I handed off the selected piece of burl to a friend to have it cut down to something that I could manage. This side eventually became the top of the bowl.

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This is the bottom of the blank that I used.

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┬áThe blank still needed to be cut to the correct dimensions but my bandsaw was a good match for this task with a 3/4″ blade. I used it to make the sides nearly perfectly flat and square to each other.

The turning process well under way, the inclusion is revealing itself and the warning bells start to ring loudly. Where I needed a fast speed to get the corners smooth and cleanly cut, for this portion and further turning, the speed had to be reduced and I needed to use extreme caution.

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Stopping to measure frequently is the secret to getting the edge of the rim to an even thickness from corner to corner on a square bowl. The diagonal measurement for this piece is 17″ so it required a much larger lathe. Thankfully, I have some very good friends.

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The turning is now finished on both the outside and the inside. The chuck tenon on the bottom has also been removed. I’ve also done some initial sanding while it was still on the lathe.

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The bowl is now at the stage between hand sanding and applying an oil coat to enhance the grain. Notice the hole in the far left corner. Some have suggested this might be a natural opening for hanging it.

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This shows some of the other inclusions hidden by the previous view.

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The previous one on my website was 6″ from side to side and 1.75″ high. This same shape, just a different size. Of course when the size is doubled, the mass of wood needs to be enormous.

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The figure in the original would not be easy to replicate in such a large proportion so I opted for a piece that I knew had rich burl grain and bark inclusions.

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The original has color added to the grain to enhance it and I convinced this client that coloring this bowl would be a really big gamble. Would it improve things or would it get in the way of all that grain?

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The light can be seen shining through the openings in the bark inclusions.

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Rotated to show the other side.

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Which way would this piece be displayed? Would you hang this up on a wall or set it on a table to see the inside? Or maybe place it high to show the outside grain and let the observer guess at what’s inside?

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This square bowl was entered in the annual Richmond Carvers Society Show & competition. I entered the Advanced Skill Level and placed this in the turning category.

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Second Place!

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