Posts Tagged With: wood

Reclaimed Chestnut Box

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Chestnut Box, approx 7″ x 7″ x 5″

I have had a small piece of reclaimed wormy chestnut set aside for awhile, waiting for the right project to come along. My idea was to use it to make something for some friends of ours. They have been making things out of found and reclaimed stuff, and this old barn board seemed to fit right in with that.

chestnut-box03I was able to keep quite a bit of the character of the old surface while still getting the board straight and flat enough to use. The oil finish brought out that texture and the deep, weathered colors of the wood.

The box actually has two compartments – the lid lifts off to reveal the main one, and the bottom “secret” compartment is held together with magnets. The box therefore has 2 bottom panels, each made of reclaimed spruce salvaged from a discarded piano. The knob on top is walnut, and is the only part not made of reclaimed wood.chestnut-box02

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Tiger Maple Box

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While taking a box making class in Maine at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship this Fall, I saw a box one of the instructors had made. It was a long, narrow box with a curved lid, constructed out of teak, and the shape kept grabbing my attention. The overall size was about 12″ long x 4″ wide x 3.5″ tall. I tried to make something similar from oak during class, but it the open grain of the oak just didn’t have the look I wanted.

I ran across a really pretty flitch of tiger maple a month or so ago, and purchased it with mandolin necks in mind. But after getting the wood home, it started to look like a box instead of a musical instrument neck. Figured woods look so fantastic, but all that figure means the grain of the wood is reversing itself. If not done carefully, there can be a lot of  grain tear-out.

round-top-box-02Most of the work was done by hand. I did re-saw the stock on the bandsaw to get close to the final thickness of about 1/2″. The box jointed corners were done with a router. The rest was done using hand planes and chisels. The box itself was constructed first, and the lid was made to fit. With blades being sharpened often, I was able to tame the wood’s grain.

In order to really emphasize the tiger maple grain, I used two colors of wood dye. The first coat was lemon yellow, which was applied and wiped off quickly. Next, I used a beechwood dye that really brought out the contrast in the grain. A few coats of shellac, and a bit of wax are the finish coat.

This just might be one of the prettiest pieces of wood I have ever run across. There isn’t much of it left, so I will have to come up with a way to make the best use of what I do have remaining.

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Kitchen Cabinets and Renovation

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New Wall Cabinets Above the Fridge.

One of the reasons for the dearth of recent posts here is the amount of time I have spent renovating the kitchen. The project started with a new fridge —  that was slightly too tall to fit under the old wall cabinets. Those cabinets came out, the refrigerator went in, and I built a couple of new cabinets to go above it. The new cabinets looked significantly better than the old ones, and more wall cabinets followed until all the upper cabinetry had been changed out. Rather than staples, chipboard, cardboard, etc., the new cabinets are all quarter-sawn white oak faces with plywood carcasses and shelves. The casework is dadoed into the oak fronts then fastened with glue and screws. Hardware includes European hinges and solid cast brass knobs and handles in an Arts and Crafts style.

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Base Cabinets with new Counter and Sink

The bottom cabinets had to be done all at once, since there would need to be a new counter and sink installed at the same time. Additionally, there was a corner cabinet which was very difficult to access — does everybody have one of these? You practically had to open the door and crawl back in there to find anything. More on that below.

Working out of a garage workshop, there is not all that much room to build large items– especially multiple large items like base cabinets. So, the project took more time as pieces got stacked in corners, moved around to make room, re-stacked, etc. And, coming up with a solution which allowed easier access to the corner cabinet took quite a bit of design time and numerous prototypes.

 

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Before

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After

 

 

 

 

And, after getting the basic base cabinets built and installed, I decided to remove a small closet and replace it with even more cabinets and a bit of added counter space. This has a slide-out trash can that is very convenient, and space to store dog food, etc.

Next, there was the idea for an Arts and Crafts inspired oak and stained glass light fixture. Which would look great mounted to a tin ceiling, which had to be painted multiple coats of multiple colors of paint to get just the right look . . . .

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Light Fixture and Tin Ceiling

There is still painting to be done. And a couple of pantry doors to be replaced with Shoji-style sliding screens. And the bay windows to be replaced. And a new floor.

 

All in good time.

 

 

Back to the corner cabinet. I used several heavy duty drawer slides, a couple of casters, Baltic birch plywood, and some Elfa baskets from The Container Store to build a corner cabinet slide out solution. Here is a quick video of how it works.

In addition to picking up some usable space in the corner, I was also able to gain additional storage around some of the areas where the kitchen walls run at 45 degrees. The original design had large wedges of inaccessible space there, which we can now utilize.

Now its time to take a little break from the kitchen and build a few other little things.

 

 

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Jewelry Box

It has been a long time between posts here. There have been several woodworking projects undertaken during the past few months, including completing kitchen cabinets and designing and building an oak and stained glass light fixture for the kitchen.

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Oak Jewelry Box

One of the projects I completed back in February was a jewelry box – a late Christmas present for my wife. It is made of quarter sawn oak with brass hardware, including a really nice piece of “quilted” oak that is most visible on the inside of the box lid. The piece is 13″ x 9″ x 6″ high.

There is a tray inside that raises with the lid. I made the hardware for its operation from some brass stock. I had to make several models to get the geometry right, so that the tray stays level as it opens and closes.

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Jewelry Box, with quilted oak inside top.

 

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Showing my Work, Part II

Yesterday was the opening of my first woodworking show at Liquidambar Gallery in Pittsboro, NC. The gallery was busy all afternoon, with a constant stream of visitors. I am happy to say that my pieces were very popular! Sales actually began on Saturday, the day before the official opening. In just two days, they have already sold 9 items. The show continues for 2 months, so it would have been nice to have some additional inventory . . .  but who knew?

One of the pieces which sold quickly was a little box for storing tea bags. I just finished it recently and hadn’t yet posted a photo.

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Tea Box

This box is about 9″ x 9″ x 3″ tall. the sides are walnut, and the top is quilted quartersawn white oak. The handle has a cutout of the Chinese symbol for tea, and is made of padouk and maple. The inside of the box has maple dividers to organize tea bags. This piece was designed to feature the oak top, which is one of the prettiest pieces of wood I have encountered. I made a few earlier attempts to make use of this piece, but this tea box is probably the best fit.

Since this piece went so quickly, I may try to find another distinctive piece of wood to make something similar. But the new owner of this box got something which is truly one of a kind.

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Completed Roll Top Cabinet

The Completed Roll Top Cabinet

The Completed Roll Top Cabinet

 

The roll top cabinet is finally finished!

Antique Dentist's Desk

Antique Dentist’s Desk

As I described in an earlier post, this piece was inspired by a “Dentist’s Desk” I had seen at a friend’s house. I liked the unusual look of the roll top, with its quick vertical drop after a tight-radius curve. Most roll tops seem to drop at a much more gentle angle. I also liked the beveled fronts on the shallow drawers, and while not copied, I incorporated a similar style to this piece.

I built this cabinet from quarter-sawn white oak, which remains my favorite wood to use for furniture. It is very stable with little movement, provides a tough surface, takes a finish well, and looks great, too.

This was my first attempt at making a roll top. The concept always seemed pretty straight-forward, but I wasn’t sure how to go about making something that would actually slide up and down freely. So many roll top desks seem to be very difficult to operate. When it was nearing completion, I waxed the track the tambor rides in, and waxed the tambor itself. I was very pleased with the way it moves — it works better than I had hoped.

The piece is finished to match the kitchen table and chairs I made a few years back. (with two more chairs currently in the works.) Once sanded and assembled, I covered the cabinet with a large piece of plastic, and set a bowl of ammonia in the enclosure. The fumes from the ammonia darken the wood. The longer the exposure, the darker the piece will get. I fumed this piece for about 4 hours. When removed from the ammonia tent, (and when the smell goes away) the white oak takes on a bit of a gray tint. To bring a bit of warmer tones to the finish, I then apply a coat of garnet shellac. I used a 1.5 lb. cut of shellac, and applied it as a hand-rubbed finish. I then applied 5 coats of General Finishes Oil and Urethane, also hand-rubbed, with very light sanding between coats. The final coat was not sanded, but was followed by a coat of Renaissance Wax.

The piece appears to have doors at the bottom. This is actually a drawer front, designed to hold a recycling container. I am not sure what inspired this little design detail, but it works well.

Door Front Drawer for Recycling.

Door Front Drawer for Recycling.

Completed Cabinet with Roll Top Open

Completed Cabinet with Roll Top Open

Roll Top Cabinet with Top Closed

Roll Top Cabinet with Top Closed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am pleased with the way the cabinet turned out. One other little feature which I have not photographed yet is a “charging station” which goes inside the roll top to the left of the dividers. This  has USB and 110v plug-ins for charging phones, tablets, cameras etc. I will try to get a picture of that soon.

This was a fun project to take on, from design through completion. I got my first experience making tambor for the roll top, I got to use my 18″ band saw to resaw the wood for the side panels, I made a jig to cut the bevels on the drawer fronts, got a lot of use from my recently-acquired smoothing plane, and managed to match the finish on other pieces. With a little modification, this design could easily become a desk (like the piece that inspired it) or even a stand up desk. The basic dimensions for this piece are: 53″ tall (38″ to the inside top surface) x 34″ wide x 18″ deep.

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A New Box

Curved Side Box

Curved Side Box

I recently became the new owner of a used 18 inch Rikon bandsaw. This saw has much greater capacities in every category compared to the smaller, less powerful one I had. One of the things I can now do is make accurate vertical curved cuts without the blade drifting. So, I decided to put that new capability to work with a curved side box. The box is made of mahogany with ebony, maple and padouk  accents, and measures about 10″ x 6.5″ x 4.25.” This box will be a Christmas gift to a couple of our friends.

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A New Router Table for the Shop

My old router table badly needed replacing. It was way too low, since it started as a table-top and later a frame was added under it. There was no dust collection, unless you count all the dust that collected in the two drawers. The top was too small to adequately use my Join-Tech fence positioner system. And, it was difficult to roll around.

Correcting those issues was the main criteria for designing a new table. The table height went from 29″ to 34″. The top size grew from 24″ x 32″ to 27″ x 42″. Dust collection was added, both a downdraft under the router, and a branch to collect behind the fence. And, a partially concealed wheel system was used.

Router Table

The top is made from baltic birch plywood, with a 3/4″ sheet glued to a 1/2″ sheet, resulting in a 1 1/4″ thick top. The top is supported on maple “rails” which are attached to the top by wooden “buttons” riding in routed slots to allow for movement. The case is mostly red oak, with some white oak panels. The dust collection area where the router hangs has plexiglas panels, and a light that comes on when the router is switched on, so you can watch the dust get whisked away down the 4″ pipe.

The area under the dust collection box houses the dust collection pipe, and also some hidden casters which are deployed by use of the hand crank at the bottom of the case. These casters raise that end up enough to engage the wheels at the other end of the case.

 

Dust Collection port on back

The Join-Tech positioner mounts to 3/4″ stock which must be clamped to the table securely. I drilled a couple holes in the top and used very short pipe clamps to hold the positioner in place. The slots will allow for movement of the unit as needed.

 

Router Table Top

The top has yet to get its miter channel, and I plan to work on improving the fence which attaches to the positioner. My old table had a Formica laminate surface, and perhaps this one will get that treatment in the future. For now, the top is baltic birch plywood, finished with 5 coats of poly-acrylic, and a coat of wax. The rest of the piece got a Danish Oil finish.

The dust collection works even better than I had hoped. It is a night and day difference from my old set-up. The larger surface will come in handy, and working at a better height makes it much easier to use.

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Adding the Hardware

Trunk Progress

There is still a bit more finishing to be done, but I have to let the piece sit for 72 hours before re-coating. So, I took the opportunity to mount the hardware. It will all come back off to continue the finishing process, but everything is measured and the holes are drilled now. Here are a couple of photos of the nearly completed trunk. The piece measures 36″ x 20″ x 18″ tall.

Trunk with Brass Hardware Mounted

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Making the Curved Trunk Lid

Construction Progress

 

After cutting out most of the pieces, the next step in the process is to fit them together. Much of the joinery in the trunk consists of panels and tenons inserted into grooves. Here you can see some of the progress I have made in dry fitting the pieces together.

The key to constructing the top is the curved ribs which define the shape.  Each rib is mortised into the front and back rail, and the panels fit into grooves.  Since there are so many pieces to the top, the trick is how to assemble them in the gluing process quickly enough so the glue doesn’t begin to dry out too soon.

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