Large Cherry Bowl

Large Cherry Bowl Blank

In the past, I have written in detail about Cherry as a wood, and as well I have written about making a smaller Cherry bowl, and I featured a guest turner making a Cherry burl hollow form as well.  In this post, I will show the largest bowl I have made to date, a large 10 inch by 4 inch Cherry bowl that featured some really great added value characteristics.

I wanted to test out the turning limits of my lathe at the time, a Laguna model, (since replaced with a Robust) but it is difficult to find pieces of material of large size, especially ones that are completely dry, at a price that doesn’t break the bank.  I was pleased to find this quite nice and large piece of kiln dried Cherry from one of my all time favorite vendors, Got Wood? of South Carolina.

Large Cherry Bowl Exterior

Large Cherry Bowl Exterior

Light Finish Cuts With A Bowl Gouge

As is often the case with Cherry, this blank showed some quite rough cuts on the cross grain sections.  My most commonly employed solution to this issue is to freshly sharpen a bowl gouge using a formed sharpening tool that matches the angles of the gouge perfectly, and then take extremely light repeated cuts to smooth it out.  A freshly sharpened bowl gouge should be capable of producing feather light shavings that you can easily see right through and it is these types of light and careful cuts that will greatly reduce the amount and severity of sanding required to achieve an extremely fine finish, even on a wood that is a prone to cross grain tearing as Cherry.  Only Black Walnut gives me more grief, but in both cases, Cherry and Walnut, the end results are worth the effort of following the learning curve, and the materials expense, of sharpening, sharpening, and sharpening to achieve the best light cuts.  Rougher tools tend to scrap and this lifts the end grain sections up, making them, well, rough.  The gouge cuts cleanly across the grain with a shearing motion instead of raising the grain resulting in a cleaner finish cut.  There is nothing wrong with using a rougher to make the rough rounding cuts, but always follow those with a sheer cutting gouge or similar tool.  In my experience, there is no substitute although it does take time, patience, and practice to learn to use a bowl gouge successfully.

After making these clean-up cuts, the amount of sanding required was greatly reduced, and on the areas that were not across the grain I don’t think any sanding at all would have been required, but drat those bowls for being round and always featuring two zones that don’t need sanding as well as two that always do need sanding.  In this case though, the sanding effort was minimal and quite easy.

Large Cherry Bowl Reverse

Large Cherry Bowl Reverse

Appeals to All the Senses

One of my favorite things about sanding Cherry is the wonderful aroma that is always present!  I don’t know if the scent would remind someone who doesn’t work with Cherry wood of cherries as in the fruit exactly, and how many of us really know what actual cherries smell like anymore in a world full of artificial colors, fragrances, and flavors, but I recognize the scent immediately and I very much enjoy it, even if the sanding dust in my nasal passages is arguably not really good for me.

I often say that every piece of wood is unique and it is a true statement.  This very large, at least in my experience, piece of cherry did not fail to delight in its own unique ways.  This large Cherry blank featured many very nice bark inclusions, areas within the actual heartwood where bark has grown in the interior instead of just on the outside, a feature that is not common in Cherry but which I greatly enjoy when it occurs.  This piece also had unique patterns within the growth rings that made for great visual appeal.