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Carving bowls from Black Locust

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  • Carving bowls from Black Locust

    I have a moderate amount of experience in woodworking, but none in carving.

    About six years ago I took down a black locust tree when part of it had fallen during a storm. This tree was at a home that has some sentimental value to my wife (her deceased grandfather's house), and so I kept three of the large "elbows" from the tree limbs, thinking that in the future I might be able to carve some nice bowls out of them.

    I sealed the ends, and I think they are probably ready to be carved. But as I've learned, there's no way I'm going to carve these things by hand. My plan is to rough the shapes out with a chainsaw, then work them with an angle grinder with a chain wheel.

    My questions:

    1) Is this an exercise in futility? I.e. - is this wood going to defeat the tools due to it's hardness?

    2) Is using elbow pieces going to result in the wood just splintering as I try to carve it?

    3) Assuming I can coax some decent bowls out of these very large pieces, can those bowls be used for food (like salad or fruit) if finished properly? Are there any toxins associated with black locust?

  • #2
    Re: Carving bowls from Black Locust

    I wouldn't use it for food... Wood Allergies and Toxicity | The Wood Database

    This reference says black locust will kill livestock that eat the bark: FDA Poisonous Plant Database

    It should be ok for decorative bowls - the wood has a nice grain:

    The hardness (about like apple...) shouldn't be a problem for the angle grinder or chainsaw, assuming they are sharp. You might consider one of the structured carbide wheels for your angle grinder...

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    • #3
      Re: Carving bowls from Black Locust

      I've tried carving woodspirits from old black locust fence posts. It's hard as iron. Had to go to the Foredom. I bet the elbows would make beautiful bowls though.


      • #4
        Re: Carving bowls from Black Locust

        you might want to put it on the lathe for a bowl, if you have one. I'll bet that "elbow grain" will come out fantastic! As Claude wrote, just use it for decoration only.