Birth of a Bowl

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Blog entry by Brian Havens posted 03-24-2012 03:41 AM 2626 reads 0 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Take a peek into my bowl making process!

Lately, I have been doing a lot of studying and reading about how to make good videos. One thing I noticed about the particular mistakes made in poor videos is that most of the mistakes violate one basic principle: that video is visual. It sounds obvious once stated, yet notice that when you watch a boring video, it is usually what you are seeing that bores you, more so than the dialog and other audio.

This video is a homework assignment that I assigned myself, to practice this visual principle. The goal was to demonstrate/teach my bowl making process without a single spoken word. I shall let the viewers decide my grade. ;-)

Special thanks to Todd Clippinger, with whom I have exchanged many ideas on the topic of making woodworking videos.

-- Brian Havens, Woodworker

15 comments so far

View Dave's profile


11435 posts in 4170 days

#1 posted 03-24-2012 04:01 AM

It is an attention getter, you never stay on one seen more than a few seconds so it keeps your interest up. I to like the way you are filming and editing. Great work keep them coming. And the bowl is very nice as well. Both are professional.

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are."

View kenn's profile


813 posts in 5050 days

#2 posted 03-24-2012 05:17 AM

I like both the video production and the bowl, great job.

-- Every cloud has a silver lining

View lizardhead's profile


675 posts in 4172 days

#3 posted 03-24-2012 05:30 AM

Nice job on the video, Lots of videos out there are just boring because the entire turning is filmed

-- Good, Better, Best--Never let it rest---Always make your Good be Better & your Better Best

View doordude's profile


1085 posts in 4313 days

#4 posted 03-24-2012 05:40 AM

Brian, nice work on the new format.i think it is better to just show the work going verses,listening to someone explain the process. and especially if they are not miked well.
great job,and background music.

View eddie's profile


8565 posts in 3944 days

#5 posted 03-24-2012 06:05 AM

great video, a picture is worth a thousand words they say. you make some good videos i just happen up on yours hear of late trying to get the magic out of my card scraper.i have a lathe i picked up at a auction months ago but haven’t gotten to learning it yet.but thanks for the videos from you they have helped me a lot.

-- Jesus Is Alright with me

View firehouse's profile


45 posts in 4121 days

#6 posted 03-24-2012 10:00 AM


-- duke 66 ocala fl.

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4664 days

#7 posted 03-24-2012 10:08 AM

A well done Video Brian. I think another point that is very important prior to making a video is to determine what it’s purpose is, i.e.; entertainment, instruction, etc. and to tailor it to what information you are trying to convey and who your intended viewers are. Sometimes the sound is just as important as the pictures depending on the situation. I have seen so many youtube videos that purport to be instructional while they only show a guy doing a repetitive task for 5 minutes and with no dialog to explain anything, and no angle or detail changes to make it entertaining.

I have watched a few of your previous instructional type videos, and I thought they were very good, just as this entertainment type video was, although as a woodworker I always appreciate a little good narration, sometimes just to capture the personality of the person who is doing the work and to make it a little less anonymous and even more interesting. For a non-woodworking audience a film without narration usually works fine.

These are just my private opinions and others might have entirely different views on the subject.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 5430 days

#8 posted 03-24-2012 02:23 PM

Dang! I just wish I had a lathe to capture the romance of chips flying off in slow motion if nothing else:)

I love having someone to learn and share about video production with. It inspires new ideas and keeps challenging me. Especially every time you put out a new video.

Another great production that now has the wheels turning in my head. Thanks!

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View Don Johnson's profile

Don Johnson

743 posts in 4111 days

#9 posted 03-24-2012 02:45 PM

A work of art!

and the bowl-making technique and final result is good as well!

-- Don, Somerset UK,

View gbear's profile


544 posts in 5430 days

#10 posted 03-24-2012 04:48 PM

And the award goes to…..
You’d better prepare your acceptance speech!
Very well done.

-- gbear, Carmichael, CA

View amagineer's profile


1415 posts in 3927 days

#11 posted 03-24-2012 06:10 PM

Brian; Nice video. I learned alot by watching it. I am curious as to why you put the bowl in the barrel, and is it filled with water. The purpose of wrapping the bowl on the outside. Thanks again.

-- Flaws are only in the eye of the artisan!

View Cliff De Witt 's profile

Cliff De Witt

130 posts in 4023 days

#12 posted 03-25-2012 01:49 PM

Nice but it did raise a few points for me:

1.) what was it that you soaked the roughed out bowl in the trash can?
2.) I wish you had held on the results of the gouges coming off the grinder a little longer to see the “single bevel”

all in all entertaining but really not instructional.

-- Trying to find an answer to my son’s question: “…and forming organic cellulose by spinning it on its axis is interesting, why?”

View Donna Menke's profile

Donna Menke

617 posts in 5596 days

#13 posted 03-25-2012 07:32 PM

Excellent video production. My favorite parts were the slo-mo strands flying through the air. I think there could have been some words printed here and there- like explaining what the stuf in the barrell was- Pentarcyl? This is not a how-to for beginners, but works well for someone with a bit of experience.

-- "So much wood. . .so little time!"

View DrSawdust's profile


323 posts in 5428 days

#14 posted 03-26-2012 04:26 AM

Way to go Brian. That was was truly inspirational. You and Todd are really becoming corner stone woodworkers. That was really fun to watch.

-- Making sawdust is what I do best

View Brian Havens's profile

Brian Havens

196 posts in 4436 days

#15 posted 03-27-2012 07:51 AM

Thanks, everyone, for the great comments and constructive critiques.

The stuff in the barrel is denatured alcohol. I have had such great success drying bowls with alcohol that it is now my standard practice. At first I started using alcohol drying because I was impatient, since the blanks dry in about 3 weeks as opposed to 6 months. After some time, however, I also found that I get less cracking when using this faster drying method, especially with difficult woods like pear and other fruit woods. Wrapping the back of the bowl in paper seems to be the key; what I read was that having the inside of the bowl dry faster causes the outside of the bowl to compress, thereby reducing cracking. I first discovered alcohol drying in a article located here

I do wish I had added a shot or two of removing the tenon/spigot. Completely missed that while editing. (Much easier to do on an entertainment video as opposed to an educational video.) My first choice, and the one I used on this bowl, is to use a vacuum chuck—that is if it works. Sometimes the wood is to thin and porous, and air passes though the wood too easily for sufficient vacuum. My second choice is a Longworth chuck, which is just an easier to use version of a cole-jaw chuck. If neither of those methods work, I sandwich the bowl between a jam chuck and the tail stock, clean up all but a nub, and then clean up the nub by hand.

I hope that I did not give the impression that I was replacing the format of educational videos I have been doing with videos without dialog. Not so. This video was a homework assignment I gave myself to exercise the importance of having good visual content. I wanted to share the results mostly for its entertainment value and some educational value.

I agree with all of stefang's points, especially stating the purpose of a video at the outset. It becomes much easier to determine the content at that point, and if I start to get a little confused about what shots I should be shooting, reminding myself of the purpose usually clarifies things.

There is one thing that occurred to me while making this video that has to do with the Woodturning community’s concern that, with the average age of woodturners being 50+, the art of turning will be lost to the next generation. There are many efforts to get younger folks interested in turning, but my concern is that there is a missing link in the effort. Once someone tries turning, they either become immediately addicted, or they are uninterested. The hard part is getting the younger generation interested in trying turning in the first place. (Bottom line: it is a marketing issue.) Perhaps this style of video aimed at showing the romance of woodturning is the key to getting next generation interested.

-- Brian Havens, Woodworker

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