wooden bowl carving course

Would you like to see some beautiful wooden bowls?

These are not my work but carved by students on a most enjoyable course this week. Having been offering spoon carving courses for some years now it was a natural progression to offer a bowl carving course but I was not quite happy with any of the techniques or particularly holding systems that I have seen other folk using in the UK, USA or Sweden. Having experimented quite a bit I settled on a carving horse design which was in part inspired by a video of a Finish clogmaker in the 1930s and they worked amazingly well.
Here are some pictures of the course, mostly the finishing off bits because at the earlier stages I was too busy teaching and watching to be taking photos. We run the courses in Edale village hall, it is not as pretty as some workshops such as Guy Mallinson’s gorgeous woodland workshop but it is warm, dry, and short of funds so we are putting something back into the community.

 Here is Tim having adzed out the hollow he is shaping the outside with the axe.

Richard working on a fine duck shaped bowl smoothing the inside with a gouge.

And after a gouge we use a specially designed curved bowlcarving knife, this new tool removes the grooves left by the gouge and leaves a smooth cut surface, I like it a lot but was unsure as to how other folk would take to it. Everyone seemed to get on well with them. Here you can see Raph using the knife and the way the bowl is held in place with a simple wooden wedge.

and a close up of the tool in use.


Refining the outside with the Frosts push knife. These tools are often sold in the UK as a draw knife and they make really very bad drawknives but they are great push knives.

The notch in the end of the bowl horse allows easy holding and support for use of the push knife, we came up with various potential minor improvements for this bit of the horse.

Another grip for finishing the inside and another shape of bowl. Vikki had done no green woodworking before but made two beautiful bowls.

One of the great things about these courses is the camaraderie and supportive atmosphere I think this is probably true of all green woodworking courses, it is as much about the fun of spending time with a nice bunch of interesting folk as learning new skills. Everyone is learning together.

Time spent sitting back and looking at what you have done is always time well spent.

Refining a hook handle with the straight sloyd knife.

Here are some of the finished bowls. In three days everyone carved two bowls each but more importantly learnt  all the skills to hopefully carve more at home.

And only last Thursday these trees were growing on the sides of the river Don in Sheffield. The Environment Agency decided to pollard them after the floods last year when trees falling in and blocking bridges added to the flooding problems.
The folk on this course booked up within a couple of days of us putting the dates up on the website last November and the October course booked up quickly too so we added one more bowl course in May which we currently have a few places left on. http://www.robin-wood.co.uk/carving-courses.htm

9 Responses to wooden bowl carving course

  1. R Francis February 25, 2010 at 6:53 pm #

    Nice.Can you do a quick sketch of the horse so we can make one too.Thanks

  2. The Village Carpenter February 25, 2010 at 11:37 pm #

    Fantastic, Robin. I'm sure that everyone had a great time–wish I were there to sign up for a class. Did you rough-hollow the bowls with adzes?

  3. Le Loup February 26, 2010 at 1:14 am #

    I like the horse they are using, I will have to make one.Good post, and good pics, thank you.Le Loup.

  4. Eric February 26, 2010 at 3:35 am #

    Great post Robin, most enjoyable.peaceeric

  5. parlei February 26, 2010 at 5:42 am #

    Also; better pitures of the bowlcarving knife. It looks a bit like a crooked knife blade, but in a non-traditional handle. True.

  6. Raph Taylor February 26, 2010 at 9:47 am #

    Great pics Robin, I can share them with friends who want to see what I was up to.

  7. Robin Wood February 28, 2010 at 6:40 pm #

    Richard, not much to sketch beyond what is in the pictures really, the horses are simply a 6-8" diameter log with 4 well splayed legs socketed in. They splay out in both directions so you can push against the horse from the side or the end and it is stable. The cut the slot out for the bowl to fit in a a notch at the end.Kari we do rough hollow with an adze and I use Hans Kalssons which you can get in the US from Drew Langsner. The horse works really well for adzing.The hook knife is not really quite like any traditional tool. It is a little like Native American crook knives crossed with Scandinavian hooks with a little of the old Welsh and Romanian spooncarving hooks thrown in. Add plenty of experience of carving and forging and you end up with a tool that just works very sweetly.

  8. Mark February 28, 2010 at 8:33 pm #

    Hi Robin,I really like the look of the curved bowlcarving knife, could you tell me where I could get one from as I haven't seen anything like it beforeCheersMark

  9. Kristin March 1, 2010 at 4:35 pm #

    That is some impressive work done by those folks, Robin. I love the simplicity and effectiveness of the horse. Very inspiring all around!Dave Fisher

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