My great grandmother often repeated the phrase “I raised 9 grandchildren grown”. This phrase, deceptively simple in its utterance is too often overlooked by modern people. The fact that all your children will live to adulthood is taken for granted now, but we live in a different time. Not so long ago most families felt the sharp stab of early childhood deaths regularly. In the case of my great grandmother, food was medicine as well as love for her children. She started nearly every day making a mess of biscuits in a huge wooden dough bowl, smothered and rubbed with hog lard to prevent sticking. Since hearing of that bowl, and that woman from my grandmother, I have wanted a dough bowl to make bread in myself, and with ample poplar laying around after recent builds, I felt no time was like the present.
I started by crosscutting the log to length, and splitting it down the middle with adze and root maul. I then hewed off the pith of the tree as this is the part most prone to cracks. I next chopped down the interior with my small hatchet to sufficient depth, following that with gouges to a smooth finish to the inside of the bowl. Once that was complete, I rough shaped the outside with the broad hatchet then smoothed everything up with a razor sharp draw knife. The more I work with poplar the less I want another wood! Its smooth easy cutting wood, perfect slitting, and gorgeous green heartwood are a pleasure to work with hand tools! Now for a few weeks of slow drying with a slathering of beeswax/oil mixture to prevent cracks and I can finally make bread like great granny!