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Bowl Process

 Baker Library


Trees are often removed from campus because they are overgrown or have died.  Grounds crews take down the trees often chipping them into mulch or simply hauling them away to the landfill.  

 (A large Red elm  was removed from the right of the HBS Baker Library June 2014.) 

 Wood Pile Harvard Wood

After the wood is transported to our shop, it is processed into bowl and pen blanks.  Ideal blanks are cut down the grain eliminating the pith (very center) of the tree where the most amount of checking (cracking) takes place.   Pen blanks are left to dry for a couple of months while bowl blanks are turned quickly.

At this point we decide if the bowl will be natural edge (with the bark remaining) or a finished edge bowl.   

 Turning a bowl from Harvard Wood After rounding the blank on a bandsaw, the blank is then loaded onto a lathe and turned into the desired shape.  
Turning the tenon for a bowl from Harvard Wood
 A tenon is made at the bottom of the bowl to facilitate hollowing out the inside.

Hollowing out the inside of a Cambridge Bowl from Harvard wood
After defining the bowl shape and tenon, the bowl is remounted on a chuck and hollowed out.  This rough-turned bowl is left much thicker for ancitipated warping and checking.   The bowl is then left to dry for at least 4 months.  
 Truing the tenon After the bowl has dried, it is mounted back on the lathe for finishing.  The bowl will need to be turned again, this time to the correct the warping of the bowl.  
 sanding-the-bowl.jpg Once the bowl is to the correct dimensions, the bowl is sanded down.  This part of the process is often the most time consuming. 
 Sanding the bowl The lathe is turned on to a high speed in reverse direction of the sander.  A vacuum captures most of the saw dust from the sandpaper.

A series of finishes are applied to the bowl.  First a series of sanding sealers then polishes.  If the bowl is indicated for kitchen use it will be finished with mineral oil.



 finishing-the-bottom.jpg  After finishing the inside of thebowl, the bowl is then flipped around and held in place by a strong vacuum to turn the remaining parts.  The remaining tennon is then turned away and stylistic rings are added at the bottom.  Like the inside, the bottom is then sanded and finished.