Cherry Bowl

Treasured Wood

from local fallen trees...

Tom Pleatman

Gratis, GA 30656


The process of making a bowl


log pile


Collecting a log from a pile of wood at an arboretum. These logs and branches are from trees that fell or were cut away because of age, disease or insect damage. This particular arboretum stores the logs for a year or so, and then turns the whole pile of wood into mulch.

split catalpa log


Normally, I split or cut logs down the middle, and then make a bowl from each half of the log. This is a piece of Catalpa (Catalpa speciosa).

trimmed catalpa log


I shape each half of the Catalpa log into a very rough circle using a chain saw.

outside of the log is turned


I use a tool called a lathe to shape the outside of the Catalpa log into a perfectly round shape. With a lathe, the wood spins around and a fixed sharp tool cuts the wood. Moving the tool along a support allows me to make various cuts until I get the shape I think the wood wants to be.  

inside of the log is turned


I flip the piece of wood around and shape the inside of the bowl. The bowl at this "rough turning" stage has fairly thick because the wood will change shape as it dries, sometimes drastically. The bowl will become oval and also twist.

completed rough turned bowl


Completed "rough turned" Catalpa bowl. The thick edges allow room for the changes that occur during drying so that the bowl can be turned on the lathe once again to a permanent round shape.

bowl aging


I dry the "rough turned" bowls in plastic bags for about a month, then in paper bags for about 2 months.

bowl drying in open air


Then the bowls are dried in open air for another 3 to 9 months or longer depending upon the type of wood and size of the bowl.

finished bowl


A finished Catalpa bowl after several coats of tung oil with drying time between each coat. Tung oil is made from the seeds of the Tung tree (Aleurites fordii) and is food safe.



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Feb 27, 2020