Bowl and Keys


Bowl and Keys:
Duane Cartwright carves a functional, everyday bowl and keys

Duane Cartwright carves a functional, everyday bowl and keys

This time round I thought I would carve a project with items we all own and use; this way everyone has easy access to the items for reference, which will help in the carving.
Before you begin this project, I suggest trying to use the tools you own and only carve as deep as your tools will allow to carve cleanly. With the depth of the bowl you will be carving, gaining access can be difficult so spoon/bent tools will be required. If you don’t own any spoon gouges then carving a shallower bowl will allow you to gain access with straight shaft tools.
There are lots of options to carving thisbowl with its keys and sweets. I’ve carved the bowl and its contents from a single block of wood, but if you have access to a lathe you could turn the outside of the bowl. But at the same time the bowl doesn’t have to be round, it could be any shape. Carving a hollow area into any nice piece of wood will create a bowl. You could even carve the items in the bowl separately using different species of wood, and then glue or place them into a bowl. You can use the pattern provided or you can design your own, adding as many items as you want. Just consider the more items you add the more challenging the carving process, though adding to much can make the bowl/carving look chaotic. Keeping your design simple can sometimes have more effect than over complicating it, I suggest adding a single sweet or key into the bottom of a nice wooden bowl.

To make your own pattern, start with a bowl of a similar size and depth to what you want to carve then add the items you wish to add such as some keys, sweets, coins, etc. Keep arranging the contents until you’re happy with the layout and think about possible grain direction and weak points. If you carve items you don’t use, you can keep the bowl and its contents as reference. Next, take some photos at every angle, especially the bird’s eye view as you will need it to make the pattern.
Now print the best bird’s eye view photo, tape/clip a piece of paper over the print, then use a light box or a window to trace over the features and you now have your pattern. Whether you use the pattern provided or design your own, print the pattern at the required size for your chosen piece of timber and either glue, or trace, the design onto the blank.
Use a bandsaw to cut out the outside of the bowl, then use glue and paper and attach a scrap piece of wood to the underside of the bowl so you’ve got something to clamp to, which will secure the bowl for carving. I carved the bowl with a flat bottom, but if you don’t own any spoon or grounding tools then sloping the sides into the bottom can make life easier.

Things you will need
• Bandsaw
• 2mm, 10mm V-tool
• No.2, 20mm
• No.3, 8mm
• No.7, 6mm
• No.9, 14mm
• No.11, 3mm
• No.1, 2mm & 6mm spoon gouge
• No.3, 5mm spoon gouge
• No.11, 3mm
• No.9, 5mm long bent gouge
• No.3, 6mm fishtail
• Hooked skew/knife
Material requirements
• Basswood (Tilia americana), 200 x 200 x 50mm

1. Measure 10 and 18mm down from the top, this will be the new top of the bowl and measure an 8mm lip/rim of the bowl. Then measure 8mm from the bottom, which will be a rough guide to the depth of the bowl

2. Use a V-tool or a deep gouge to carve around the bowl’s contents, especially around the key that protrudes from the bowl

3. Carve the top of the bowl down by 10mm to its new top/level (the line you marked out earlier). Depending on how confident you are, you either can take down the bowl’s contents to the new top, leaving the protruding key, or follow the process lowering the top around the contents

4.Using your finger as a guide, draw around the inside of the bowl’s rim at about 12mm, then from inside the line start to slope the sides into the bowl’s contents

5. Using a red pen, draw some guiding marks from the important features on to the sloping side of the bowl, then carve down the contents so they’re below the top of the bowl while sloping the protruding key

6. Using the red marks and the pattern, redraw the contents back in place and then carve around the car key, lowering the sweets, etc.

7. As you cut in around the bowl’s contents, use a medium to shallow sweep gouge to slope the sides of the bowl down further. Only carve as deep as your gouges will allow and where the content meets the bowl try to cut the waste away cleanly, without leaving stab marks from the creation of stop-cuts

8. Slope the protruding key downwards and cut in around the split-ring, then using a shallow gouge carve the car key down giving it a slope so the end of the key fob goes under the protruding key and the tip of the key rests on the side of the bowl

9. If you want to carve a flat bottom, use a compass or a finger as a guide around the bowl’s edge and draw in the edge of the bottom, then with a bent gouge carve around it. If not, then stick with a curved sloping

10. Use a depth gauge to keep check of the bowl’s depth in each area and carve the bottom flat with a spoon chisel/gouge. Carve the bowls wall/side so it’s even all around the circumference of the bowl; you want a nice clean join where the wall meets the bottom of the bowl

11. Redraw the contents details and draw a centreline along the shaft of the protruding key. This will help when rounding over the shaft, especially as the wood grain goes across at an angle. When the top is carved, start to undercut the key. Use a hooked skew or similar with slicing cuts and don’t force it, perseverance is the key

12. Use the top of a spoon bent chisel and a hooked skew to undercut the car key, again using slicing cuts. With the keys undercut you can gain access to finish shaping the sweets and the sides of the bowl

13. Carve in the rest of the car key details; on the side where the key bit goes use the corner of a chisel. With a slice create the stop cuts, then change the angle to remove a slither

14. Carve the coins and sweets by finishing the car key. Undercut around its edge because the car key sits on the coins. Be careful not to leave stab marks

15. Carving the twist on the end of the sweets can be challenging as the twists are random and delicate, which can make them fragile in places. Try to simplify them with flat planes at different angles and a couple of V-cuts near the sweets. Once you’re happy with how they look, undercut the sweets from above, which will add to the effect

16. The last thing to carve is the split ring. After carving the split ring round, round over the outside edges then with a V-tool carve a groove in the middle of the circumference. Use a small medium sweep gouge and carefully carve out the centre of the split ring, from both sides a little at a time

17. With the bowl’s contents carved, use a V-tool and carve a groove about 10mm down from the top of the bowl, creating the cowls rim. Using a shallow sweep gouge carve from the rim down sloping the bowl side, in towards its base

18. Use a scraper/spatula to break the glue and paper holding the carving to scrap wood. Turn the bowl over and finish carving the underside of the bowl. Use your finger and thumb to feel the thickness of the walls as you go

If you place the bowl onto two pieces of scrap flat wood and draw around the bowl’s edge, cut out along the drawn lines on the scrap wood; you will now have two curved pieces of wood, which when screwed down will hold the bowl securely while carving the underside. Beware to keep the protruding key clear, otherwise you could dent the carving or even break it.
Sand starting at 120 grit through to 400 grit. Sanding is a personal choice and you could leave the carving with a tooled finish. Once you’ve finished the carving apply a coat of sanding sealer, cut back the raised grain and apply your chosen finish. Then see how many people try to pick up the items in the bowl.


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