A while back I saw a really pretty bowl turned from box elder.  With streaks of red running through its creamy texture, it truly was a work of art--and it was priced accordingly.

My cousin was clearing up some trees around his pasture border next to my property.  He cut a big box elder with a red streak.  It also had a burl.  I lifted a chunk of wood from the trunk  and set out to carve a bowl from it.

First Step

Rough out the shape with a small electric chain saw.

Step Two

Carve out the center of the bowl with a Merlin mini-grinder with chain saw head.  (Lots of shavings--need eye protection and a tight collar.)

Step Three

Shape the outside of the bowl with the Merlin mini-grinder with chain saw head.

Step Four

Switch to a bur head and smooth the inside and outside of the bowl.

Step Five

Sand with coarse paper.  Sand with more coarse paper. Sand with medium paper.  Sand with more medium grit paper. Sand with fine grit paper.  Sand some more.  Smooth out high spots with more sanding.  Sand with extra fine sandpaper.  Sand some more.  Sand some more.

Step Six

Sign the back with a wood burner, burn the edges of the bowl to match the bark and apply wax coating inside and outside.  Polish.  Wax and polish some more.


About This Carving

Burled Box Elder
Natural Wax
Approximately 12" diameter and 4" deep.
Selling Price

Asymetrical Box Elder Bowl

While it's sort of round, it really is very asymetrical in a round sort of way.  The walls of the bowl are carved thin--perhaps 1/4 inch in most places, although the thickness varyies.  (In carving, the wood tends to dictate shape and form.  Unlike a turned bowl where the wood is spun around an axis while an edge cuts away the wood evenly, carving tools are not so precise.  The softness and hardness of the wood as well as the texture and direction of the grain create bumps and groves that just won't go away with more carving and more sanding.

Box elder bowl carved from burl

Box elder bowl with bark fringe

Bottom of box elder bowl with carver's initials and date