Monday, March 5, 2012

Oak Bowls

      Salad Bowls, Fruit Bowls and Table Bowls from Oak are wonderful and beautiful items for any home or cabin. All the bowls made at Yosemite Goat's are great. But I have to say there will always be a special place for the Oak Bowls. The main oak we turn is the Black Oak or Quercus kelloggii. California Black Oak is a deciduous tree growing in mixed evergreen forests, oak woodlands, and Coniferous forests. California Black Oak is distributed along foothills and lower mountains of California and southern Oregon. Here in California Black Oak is a sturdy hardwood species that is the main source of firewood for many California residents. Trees can grow very large with a 5ft diameter and can grow 150+ft tall.  The tree size produce enough woods to provide fuel and warmth for many thousands of homes each year. Next to Yosemite National Park Black Oak has been a favored tree for centuries, due to the acorns as a food staple to the Native Americans. With such a great history of a beautiful tree, it is almost a shame when they fall over during winter storms. Then again, we would not have a such wonderful wood to work with or heat our homes!
13inch quarter-sawn oak bowl

oak bowl by Jim with a wavy rim
     To turn a bowl from oak we use either air dried wood that has cured for 5+ years, or more often we will turn a fresh piece of oak (less than 1 year old). Next we allow the bowl to stabilize before turning the bowl a final time which you receive in it's final form. During the curing process of green oak, the bowl will warp and change shape. My father loves to turn oak green and allow the natural changing to occur. They are very pretty and have a uniqueness all their own.  You can see shape changes best along the rim where wood is no longer confined by the original tree. If the bowl edge and rim are very thin (1/2"thick), then more movement and change the wood will make. Secondarily, if the bowl is large, let's say 12" wide or more, the movement can be very dramatic. These artistic bowls are one of the challenges we will be making after the Irish Days craft fair in Murphys, CA.  

quarter-sawn oak bowl
          Turning oak can be a challenge. Oak is definitely a 'hard'wood. Designing the initial bowl shape is the easiest part. Sanding to a nice finish is the real challenge, but fairly straight forward. Mainly just time consuming. As mentioned before the movement of wood is the real challenge of wonder! With oak, the movement coincides with the density. The density of the wood is the time consuming factor in sanding into a nice smooth finish. Hence the reason it is more often used as firewood. But the resulting colors and smoothness is always a real treat. We use a lot of oak burls for our bowls. The grain is always amazing and we come up with some very unique shapes and styles. Lastly, to finish a bowl, we use Food Safe Mineral Oils for a bowl that will be in contact with food. If the bowl is a decorative piece we will often use Tung Oil. A sap that is derived from the Tung Tree of Asia. A safe product as well, and usable with salads and fruits after a soapy wash and rinse. To learn more about California Black Oak visit wikipedia and Quercus_kelloggii.

very tall oak bowl
there are 7 pieces of fruit in this bowl!! check out the grain going left to right from the burl grain.

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