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

Author Robin Wood

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