Robert Narracci's blog

Its a bowl!...sort of.

So I finished my first bowl. In truth the past few months have been mostly waiting for the wood to dry and stabilize. One has to do that by slowly opening a bigger and bigger aperture in the plastic bag the bowl is stored in. At first it literally sweats and then slows down over time. Near the end of drying I had to mitigate some splitting with butterfly keys (a.k.a. bow ties or dutchmen) and then do some filling with cyanoacrylate glue (crazy glue or zap-a-gap) mixed with sawdust.

Day 3650, More Wood Carving

Really I've only been jumping on this project for about 20 minute spurts one or two nights a week. Today I did a good 3-4 hour burst and made some good headway. Neverheless, its oak and relatively uncomprimising. Spoke a little too soon about not annoying Gina with chopping noise from the basement but the upside is that she's retreated to the farthest upper corner of our house, stumbled upon and restarted a quilt project. We're both contemplating submitting these to the Durham Fair. Theres $6 to be made and a sweet-ass blue ribbon.

Cure For A Fever....More Wood Carving

Being snowed in is a perfect excuse to do more bowl carving. After  smoothing the exterior with a draw knife I decided to take a whack (pun intended) at the bowl interior. This is about 15 minutes of hewing with an adze.  Bowl carving is done  with super green (freshly cut) wood and the block is stored in a sealed plastic bag to avoid too much water loss prior to the finished shape. I try to work symmetrically so that between sessions the bowl will perspire evenly and hopefully avoid warpage. The work is usually done on a tree stump to avoid tool damage.

Wood Bowl Smoothing

I got a beautiful old French clamp at a yard sale for 10 bucks and Jerry rigged it to my workbench (it's supposed to be plumb but doesn't matter much for my purpose. Unlike the now ubiquitous parallel jaw bench vice, this has a pinned connection at bottom allowing one to clamp oblong objects as one would do with a Jorgenson clamp. Using a razor sharp draw knife to smooth (that's paint on my chair, not blood); along the grain is easy; across the end grains is not so easy.

More Wood Bowl Carving

Right now I only have a curved adze. Its hooked inward and elliptical in cross-section and typically it would be used for hollowing out an interior (a hooked adze with a flat crossection seems to be typically use for bowl exteriors but what do I know…I’m a beginner and I only have one tool.) I seem to be spending 1-2 hours to rough out each side and it seems like another hour to smooth.

Wood Bowl Carving

Beginning : As a sort of regression therapy I've decided to try my hand at stone age (updated to iron age) technology and do some wood bowl carving with an adze. Got a great deal from a fellow in Bulgaria that calls his company "Happy Tools" on Etsy. He sells really nice quality hand forged adzes and my experience so far (on oak which is a surly wood)  is that it holds it razor edge well. Sculptor Susan Clinard kind enough to donate a green stump to me and I roughed it out in my backyard with a chainsaw (so far my only 20th century indulgence).

Blade Left Circular Saws

So about 25 years ago I lived in a 5000sf loft space for $500/mo. The windows were falling out and the heat was splotchy but I was young and resilient and it was a great place to host parties with garage bands (NH post crack-war, pre-boom days, ahh nostalgia)… We had to build our own rooms which were more like little boxes inside of a big room so, fresh out of college I commenced to buying tools. One of my first buys was a Dewalt circular saw. I forget the model but it was simple, lightweight, trustworthy and I loved it.

Dreamjob. How Do I Apply to be an Elf in Santas Workshop?

So Gina and I were having coffee this morning and chatting with our friend Katy, when I noticed her 18 month old Paul grabbing hold of a parked bike's chain. Even though I thought this was funny (becuase for no good reason I would have done the same thing ....from his age up until about a couple of years ago) I didn't laugh but warned Katy who noted that he just had a bath (bonus dirt points) and that he really wants to ride a bike and that maybe she should get him a tricycle.