Templates Aid in Cutting Big Bowl Blanks
I used to eyeball chainsaw cuts to take the corners off a large half log, but the resulting bowl blanks were usually way out of balance. I use a bandsaw and circular cutting templates for smaller blanks, but as the diameter of the log approaches 15 inches, it’s not practical or safe to use a bandsaw. I decided to make a number of different sized hexagon shaped templates that help guide the chainsaw.
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Using a large compass, I draw the desired diameter circle on stiff cardboard or thin plywood. Keeping the radius of the compass unchanged, I place the point on the circumference and mark the other point, and work around the circumference to mark 6 points. Connect the points with a ruler to form a hexagon and cut to the lines.
I remove opposing “points” of the hexagon, and that helps me center the template to the log. I use one awl at the center point and another to fix the template on the flat sawn part of the log. I usually align the “flats” of the hexagon with the ends of the log. To prevent the log from rocking, I support it on a board with cleats that acts as a “V” block, but wedges would work as well.
Align the chainsaw to each portion of the hexagon and cut around the blank. After removing the template, I use the center point left by the awl to position a faceplate and use plenty of screws to secure it to the blank.