Shou Sugi Ban Bowl




Introduction: Shou Sugi Ban Bowl

About: Come spend some time in the shop. I'm a hobbyist woodworker and professional computer geek in Northern California. I guess my projects will vary widely, and I have no clue what I plan to make next...

Shou Sugi Ban is a traditional Japanese method of preserving cedar timber via a time test charring process. This Instructable is a rather ham-fisted adaptation of that method where I pretend to be artistic while playing with a lot of fire. I do get good results and end up giving a cool texture to a few small woodworking projects!

Step 1: Burning With a Pattern Template.

I've seen folks use Shou Sugi Ban technique to give a reverse stamp like appearance to a board via a template. All the demonstrations that I've seen use a rather expensive metal template cut from a CNC or plasma cutter.

I decided to try it with something inexpensive. A simple plywood template cut out on my scroll saw.

I adhered the fleur de lis with some double stick masking tape to an untreated redwood board then used my blowtorch to blacken and char the wood around the template. Make sure you're doing this a safe location. I've got this all sitting on a metal plate and I made sure to vacuum up all sawdust before starting the process.

It goes very fast, and you can choose how dark you want it. I varied it along the length of the board from very dark to a lighter char. Personally, I prefer the darker section.

The template appeared to hold up well.

Once removed I had a very clear pattern! I think you could get 1-2 uses out of the template before having to make a new one.

Step 2: Fus Ro Dah!

About a year ago I had cut out an Imperial logo from the Elder Scroll games. It was the first piece I'd cut on my new scroll saw. It was too rough for keeping so it seems a good candidate for another burn test. Besides, a dragon seems quite appropriate to burn with fire!

I again used double stick tape to adhere it to a plank of redwood. And then began a public show of faith to Talos

"We are but maggots, writhing in the filth of our own corruption!"

I think the neck and tail of the logo were too thin or I spent too much time near it with the torch.You can see the end product was not as crisply defined as the thicker template. Something to consider if you decide to try this yourself.

Even with a bit of detail lost, I was still a fan of the overall concept!

Now, on to my bowl!

Step 3: Lighting Up a Bowl

My wife will be in charge of the Tiger Torch, whereas I am relegated to only using the blow torch. Such is specified in our prenuptial agreement. So I handed over the implement to my bride and let her improve upon a rather ugly bowl I'd made.

This bowl was turned on my lathe out of some ash boards. I tried a new painting style with it but ultimately it just seems garish to me.


Step 4: A Trial by Fire

The paint was gone in a matter of a few minutes time. We had to stop frequently to check on the progress and make sure not to overcook it!

After the charring, we used a steel brush to deepen the burn marks and add more texture to the piece. Once completed I was left with this AMAZING looking effect.

One unexpected side effect was that the glue joint where the board was joined together cracked in the fire. I was tempted to try and repair it, but it wasn't structural damage and I felt as though any repair would just take away from the look I'd achieved. Honestly, a little cracking from 1500 degrees is probably normal!

I sealed it with a few coats of lacquer to prevent char marks on my fingers, but not enough to change the feel of the finish. I'm a huge fan of this dish now, and really like the contrast between the sanded and finished inside versus the fire licked outside.

Thank you for looking!

Be the First to Share


    • Puzzles Speed Challenge

      Puzzles Speed Challenge
    • CNC Contest 2020

      CNC Contest 2020
    • Secret Compartment Challenge

      Secret Compartment Challenge

    2 Discussions


    3 years ago

    Looks like it might be burnt :)


    3 years ago

    Nice upgrade to the bowl! ;)

    I've been looking for the right project use this technique on. But I think you've inspired me to just apply it to something I've already made, that I don't particularly love. I've got several options to choose from!

    Thanks Peter. Good stuff as usual!