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Large Elm Crotch Bowl

I was given a large piece of crotch wood from a stately American elm tree that was recently cut down in Grand Marais, Minnesota, to make room for road improvements. The removal of several old elm trees was controversial since there are very few elm trees left on the north shore of Lake Superior due to the Dutch Elm disease. They were landmarks in downtown Grand Marais. The following image shows the 2 ft x 3 ft piece of wood I started with. The image was taken just after I removed a 6" thick center slab that was used for another bowl (the subject of a future post).

The wood used for the bowl, shown in the gallery below, was cut from the piece to the right in this image. This trimmed piece was attached to my Stubby lathe and is shown in the first three images below. Turning this piece was challenging. Elm wood is hard, especially when turned end-grain. This piece was also very unsymmetrical (the bowl is 22" long and 16" wide at the top, and 4" high). The top rim of the bowl has a live bark edge which also requires great care since bark is fragile and easily breaks loose during turning. I spent two days turning this bowl. The bowl was dried for several months, re-turned at the bottom, sanded, oiled and waxed. The top view of the bowl clearly shows the two main branches of the crotch, each with its characteristic circular growth rings. A count of these rings shows that the main branch was about 70 years old and the smaller side branch about 60 years old. The wood has very nice colors and patterns, and the region where the two branches intersect shows a herringbone motif. My plan is to sell this bowl (see my Store in this website) and to donate the second similar bowl to the North House Folk School for one of their on-line auctions in 2021.


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