The Editors Mailbox

The Editors Mailbox

This Built America: The Great Alaskan Bowl Company

comments (3) August 28th, 2014 in blogs

DillonRyan Dillon Ryan, assistant editor
thumbs up 8 users recommend

The man behind the Great Alaskan Bowl Company, Lewis Bratcher.
The Matching Family Tree bowl sets are all carved from a single log, giving each bowl the same coloring and grain patterns.
The man behind the Great Alaskan Bowl Company, Lewis Bratcher. - CLICK TO ENLARGE

The man behind the Great Alaskan Bowl Company, Lewis Bratcher.

This Built America is a new multimedia platform by AOL and sponsored by Ford Motor Company, that explores the individuals and businesses that are redefining and driving American manufacturing. The most recent episode in the series focused on The Great Alaskan Bowl Company and its founder, Lewis Bratcher.


Growing up, Bratcher dreamed of exploring the wild state of Alaska. After graduating from college, he bought a one-way ticket to Anchorage and never looked back. Bratcher spent more than 20 years bouncing from career to career, dealing with financial hardships, before founding The Great Alaskan Bowl Company, located in Fairbanks, Alaska.


To set up his bowl mill, Bratcher had to source custom made bowl turning machinery from machine maker Ed McCormick in Vermont and build a custom bowl drying kiln with the help of kiln expert Lee Fisk to keep checking and moisture controlled.


All of Bratcher's bowls are made of Alaskan birch that is taken from land slated to be used as farmland or for roadways. Any wood not suitable for use as a bowl is sold as firewood, the shavings and sawdust are used in shipping and as mulch, and the imperfect bowls become bird feeders. In the end, every part of the birch log are put to use.


Here's the video portion of the This Built America: Alaska episode. To view the full story on Lewis Bratcher and The Great Alaskan Bowl Company, visit




More Than Just a Bowl


posted in: blogs, turning, wood turning, rustic, birch, Alaska, made in usa

Comments (3)

laverm laverm writes: Thanks for sharing this article and video. I love working with Alaska Birch. I recently finished a natural edge Alaska Birch counter top with a three inch thick piece of burl to make the 90 degree corner. Once I oiled it I couldn't stop staring at the grain. Its mesmerizing.
Posted: 12:28 am on September 8th

DillonRyan DillonRyan writes: @swagmann: As the video was wholly produced by AOL's "This Built America" series and hosted via their website, Fine Woodworking can't edit out the sponsoring company's advertisements.
Posted: 2:05 pm on September 2nd

swagmann swagmann writes: Nice article but what is with the ads prior to all the vidoes Ryan. We are paying customers for FWW internet vidoes. As a paying customer I don't think we should have to put up with being forced to view ads. Is this really necessary?
Posted: 12:59 pm on September 2nd

You must be logged in to post comments. Log in.

Save up to 51% on Fine Woodworking


Become a Better Woodworker

ABOUT THE EDITORS MAILBOX editors report from the woodworking front lines. Check in every weekday for news, information, projects, and answers to questions from Fine Woodworking readers everywhere.

Learn about our new format!

Archive: Temporarily unavailable. Stay tuned and sorry for the inconvenience.