Posts Tagged With: wooden box

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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Unlocking the Box

Unlocking the Box – A Course at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship

Earlier this Fall I traveled to Maine where I took a 2 week course titled Unlocking the Box, at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship. This was a course in constructing Japanese puzzle boxes, which typically require several moves to open. We also looked into methods of creating secret storage spaces, locking mechanisms, and the Japanese art of decorating the boxes with elaborate veneer patterns called (I think) yosegi-zaiku.

First of all, the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship is an excellent school. The staff members are knowledgeable and helpful, the buildings are spacious and well-lighted, the equipment and tools are all top-of-the-line, and the instructors are excellent. Each of the workshop buildings has a Bench Room and a Power Tool Room. The Bench Room has most anything you might need – including a whole wall full of mostly Lie Nielsen planes. Each student gets a workbench to use during the course, and is also encouraged to bring some of their own hand tools. The Power Tool Rooms each have a couple of SawStop table saws, Powermatic Planer, a nice old cast iron Delta Planer, 20″ and 14″ band saws, 12″ and 8″ jointer, Festool sanders, etc. In other words, the place is equipped like a dream!

The course was taught by Kagen Sound and Clark Kellogg, woodworkers from Denver and Houston respectively. I was very impressed with their knowledge, teaching skills, and woodworking ability. They each have some beautiful work on their websites. Here are links: Kagen Sound and Clark Kellogg.

We spent the first 3 days or so learning the fundamentals of constructing a puzzle box. The process involves working on a smaller scale than I was used to, and it can get tricky trying to hold and cut some of the smaller pieces. Once we had an understanding of the basic concept, we were encouraged to explore whatever aspect of box-making we desired. Some moved on to elaborate mechanisms which required a dozen or so moves to open. Some created pieces with secret drawers and compartments. Some looked at the yosegi process and how the boxes are decorated.

If anyone is considering taking woodworking classes, I would encourage you to check out the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship. In addition to the 1 and 2 week workshops, they have longer intensive courses, up to 9 months.

Oh, and Lie Nielsen headquarters and showroom is close enough to the school to visit during your lunch break.

Here are some photos:

The Workshop Building:
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Some of the work from the class:
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My always cluttered bench:
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The basic puzzle box design:
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Different phases of the process:
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A couple of my inlay patterns:
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Gluing up sticks which will be sliced for veneer:
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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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