My turning ability is bound by my lathe – it has a maximum diameter capacity of 16”. That means all my accessory tools, such as my hollowing system and 50cc 20” chainsaw, were acquired because they are designed around those size limitations. The largest bowls I make with these constraints are in the 14-15” range.
For years I used fallen trees with a 20” diameter as raw material. By the time you remove the bark and cambium layers, you have a blank that shows off both sapwood and heartwood in the same finished piece. You have control of the balance of sapwood and grain but other than that you get whatever the material possesses. If there are bark inclusions, spalting or curl, the juxtaposition from other areas in the same bowl is dramatic.
Customer comments on bowls from this size material are always about the beautiful wood. Not the design.
I’m confident in myself nowadays to say, “Big Wood is Better.”