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Superbowl Saturday

What do you get when you bring in the team of Swede Bengtson and Katie Nielsen for a presentation on bowl making?  Well, none other than Super Bowl Saturday.
Katie may be a new member of our club, but she is no newcomer to woodworking.  This young, enthusiastic, Wisconsin woodworking teacher brought us her expertise in basket & bowl making.  As does any teacher, Katie supplemented her presentation with very informative handouts that described her favorite internet sites related to bowl and basket making, a bowl cutting Angle Calculation chart, as well as one on Making Bowl Patterns.


Katie brought in bowls and baskets that were made from one flat board.  The baskets are cut with the blade at a 90 degree angle to the wood, while the bowls are cut at an angle that is calculated based on the thickness of the wood and the desired ring width.  Katie told us that www.scrollmania.com is a great website that includes a tutorial and a free bowl pattern maker.


Swede, no newcomer to woodworking, has been making his beautiful baskets for quite a while – but just recently started making the bowls.  As he does so well, Swede told us what does work, and just as importantly, what doesn’t.  He said that although he hasn’t quite mastered this bowl making, he sure gets a kick out of taking a flat board and making something wonderfully 3-Dimensional out of it.

Some of Swede and Katie’s bowl making tips are:

·         You must SAND the board prior to cutting
·         You use Geometry (Katie’s handout) to figure out the angle to cut the board
·         Use the SMALLEST pilot hole possible! (one of the hardest parts of making these bowls is making sure that the pilot hole         does not show up on the bowl)
·         For glue, Katie likes TiteBond or Eileen’s Craft Glue. Swede prefers SOBO (from Micheals) because it leaves a clear ring
·         Swede sometimes stack cuts his boards.  He uses medium-duty, double-sided carpet tape between the boards
·         When stack-cutting, Swede suggest using different species of wood in the stack.  That way you can mix and match,                 thereby making your finished bowls much more decorative and interesting.
·         The MOST CRITICAL step in bowl making is     the angle set-up!!!  Take the time to do it as perfectly as you can.
·         Swede suggests using an ice pick to make a dimple at the site of the pilot hole.  This prevents the drill bit from drifting off         course.
·         After rings are cut, rub the bottom of each ring on a piece of sandpaper that is on an absolutely flat surface.  This flatness         is critical to rings laying flat upon each other.
·         Swede made a bowl press and suggests that after you glue the rings - but BEFORE you glue them onto the bowl bottom         piece - you put the rings in a press until dried.  This allows you the freedom to more easily finish-sand the inside of the             bowl.  After that sanding is done, then glue the bottom on.
·         Try to use a Food Grade Finish or leave unfinished.  Members suggested using Butcher Block or Walnut Oil
·         Swede says his baskets sell like crazy for $55 to $65 apiece.
·         If you cut your board from a log, be sure to seal the ends and let the log dry prior to using.  Once the log is dry, you can cut     your boards with a bandsaw and sand the board flat and smooth.  Do like Katie and leave the ring of bark on your board as it     becomes a beautiful top ring of your finished bowl.
·         The bowl expert is Carole Rothman.  She has several, very         detailed books on how to make gorgeous bowls.  She also         has a bowl making blogspot that can be seen at http://scrollsawbowls.blogspot.com/

·        Unlike turned bowls, a bowl made via a flat board can have         ANY shape.  It can be round, square, scalloped, triangle,             oval, rectangle.  And, if you intersperse different species of         wood within your bowl, it has the potential to be absolutely         stunning.

All in all, the combined woodworking wisdom of Swede and Katie was very helpful and informative.  Give basket or bowl making a try.  Like anything that turns out gorgeous, it is not the easiest thing to do, but well worth the effort when done right.  Speaking of done right, the North Star Scrollers have “done right” in having the experience, talent and wisdom of Swede, as well as the enthusiasm, skill and talent of our youngest member Katie in our organization.  They are what made it a “Super” Bowl meeting.