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Thread: Trencher bowl

  1. #1

    Trencher bowl

    I have an interest in bowlcarving and have many completed bowls in my collection. My newinterest is trencher bowls, also known as trencher dough bowls oralso simply dough bowls.

    My new project idea iscreating a very large trencher bowl, 3 to 6 feet in length. My firstattempt would be something about 3 feet long and 16 to 18 inches wideand 8 to 9 inches thick.

    I have seen some verylarge trencher bowls on internet up to about 7?? feet in length andrecently while watching a movie, one of the props was a very largetrencher.

    My question is, how tokeep these very large bowls from checking?? The large historic bowlsseem to have no significant cracks or none at all. So, before jumpinginto this new project, have others here ever carved a large trencherbowl? What was your experience? Success or?


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    E TN, near Knoxville
    Kreig, I have not carved one. However woodturners who turn large bowls from green wood face the same problem of check control. There’s been a lot of discussion on this, other forums, and info on the net and books but if new to this it might be hard to find. Could prob get some good advice on the Turning sub forum here.

    Turners use various approaches but a few things are known to be good ideas:

    - pick a suitable wood (I read once a lot of dough bowls in Appalachia were y.poplar)
    - straight grain can minimize warping and some cracking, no knots, etc
    - in general it’s best to cut the tree in the winter, keep log out of sun, work soon as possible
    - allow 6+” extra length each end, seal the end grain well and/or keep the wood wet
    - choose a big enough log that you can cut a blank well away from the the pith to minimize pith cracks
    - keeping sapwood out of the bowl can reduce warping and cracks in some cases
    - work it as soon as possible, keeping the wood damp overnight, etc, to minimize end grain checks

    A quick web search showed a lot info, some may be good. This person’s plastic bag approach to minimize checks and cracks looks reasonable, similar to what some woodturners do

    In my experience some species (here in the south east, that is) are naturally more stable, for example eastern red cedar, soft maples/box elder, yellow poplar, sassafras, walnut.

    Last edited by John K Jordan; 01-30-2023 at 11:41 AM. Reason: typo

  3. #3
    Thankyou john for your prompt and excellent thoughts and guidelines.
    The 1991 article from OzarksWatch is an excellent reference and encourages me to step forward with my project.
    Thankyou again!!!!

  4. Greetings. I am here to offer some advice.
    When choosing a traditional trencher bowl, you can consider hardwood options like maple, cherry, walnut, or oak.
    Take note of the grain's orientation within the bowl. It is best if the grains run parallel to the bowl's length, as this reduces the likelihood of cracking. Cutting across the fiber or having it perpendicular to the length can increase the chances of damage.
    Larger bowls may experience more stress and movement due to their size, so it is crucial to incorporate elements that help alleviate this. For instance, slightly curving or tapering the sides of the bowl will assist in distributing the load evenly.
    Once the bowl has been cut, it is essential to dry it gradually and uniformly to minimize the risk of cracking. Additionally, you can apply wax or a commercial sealant to the end grain to slow down moisture loss.
    Be patient with the drying process as it takes time. Patience is crucial for achieving a successful outcome.

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