I had this block of cherry wood kicking around my workshop for years. It was a castoff from an old project because it had a split and a knot—but, it was too big and too nice to just throw away. I knew, in the back of my head, that it would make a nice something someday. A bunch of recent scrap wood projects we’ve done (like this step stool, coat rack, and bench) finally motivated me to figure out what that something might be.

scrap of cherry wood slab
I set out to use as much of this cherry wood as possible.
Bradley Ford
scrap of cherry wood slab
But this unfortunate split dictated just how much I had to work with.
Bradley Ford

After careful consideration—and a desire to test some carving discs for an angle grinder—I settled on an asymmetrical, shallow bowl. You would usually make a wooden bowl like this on a wood lathe. But making one with an irregular shape enables you to make the most of your block of wood and frees you from chasing circular perfection and the need for a lathe.

What You’ll Need

Making a free-form bowl like this doesn’t require a lot of special woodworking tools. If you have an angle grinder, the only other things you’ll need (besides sandpaper) are the carving discs for the grinder. I did use an oscillating tool with finger sander attachments to making sanding the inside of the bowl go quicker, but that isn’t necessary.

For the finish, I used tung oil because it’s easy to use and brings out the natural beauty in the wood. After that cured, I used steel wool and paste wax to buff it into a soft, lustrous shine.

Carve Out the Inside

clamping a scrap of wood on a workbench

Carve the Outside

marking the bowl outline


make a finishing stand using screws and a scrap of wood