Posts Tagged With: woodwork

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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Sliding “Shoji-Style” Doors, a Work in Progress

Kitchens never seem to have enough space. A pantry with double doors swinging outward require room to open, and must be accounted for when arranging other items. In our case, the kitchen table and chairs must be placed to give sufficient room for the doors to swing open.

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A work in progress.

As an improvement, I am building a pair of sliding by-pass doors. Most everything in the pantry is small enough to access with only one door open anyway. So, there is limited down-side to this modification. Eliminating the need for the doors to swing open is a significant up-side.

I wanted a door that was strong, and light-weight, and would not look too out of place in our kitchen. After building the cabinetry from quarter-sawn white oak, the natural choice for the doors would be to continue with the same material. But to keep the weight down and to add a lighter tone, I have gone with a door that has acrylic panels which I have covered with a rice paper style film.

The doors are about 25 1/2″ wide and 78″ tall. The outer frame and center cross piece are 7/8″ quarter-sawn white oak. The interior muntins are 1 1/2″ x 3/4″and are placed 1/8″ back from the styles and rails. The corners are joined with some major mortise and tenon joints, and the muntins are also mortised into the outer frame.

 

Where the muntins meet is a modified bridle joint. I am sure it is something that has been done before, but I haven’t found a photo of a joint done quite like this. I began by cutting  an “X” on the front of the vertical muntin about 1/4″ deep (with a Japanese Dotsuki Takebiki saw.)

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Mock up of modified Bridle Joint

On the back side, I also cut 1/4″ deep and the full 1 1/2″ width of the muntin. I then made mitered cuts on the front and grooved the center to fit the vertical piece. I hope the photo of my initial mock-up offers a better explanation.

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The finished modified Bridle Joint.

The doors will hang from a vertical track made by Grant. I set up the arrangement in my shop, hanging the track and attaching the rolling trucks to the doors, and they slide with the slightest touch.

The rice paper window film uses no adhesive — I guess it is just the static charge that holds it in place. In the photo, the acrylic sheets are held in with only tape. I will finish the door first, then permanently install the panels with small quarter-round pieces tacked in on the back side of the doors.

So, its a work in progress. I will finish the doors then modify the opening to remove traces of the existing hinges, etc. With a week off at the holidays, perhaps I can make some quick progress on this project.

 

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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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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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Coffee and Tea Storage

A Place to Store Keurig Coffee K Cups

A Place to Store Keurig Coffee K Cups

I got the wife a Keurig Coffee maker for her birthday, and thought that she would need a place to put the little K-Cups that the machine requires. I had a bit of Katata lumber that I picked up from Steve Wall Lumber on a recent trip, so I put together this little storage box to go under the coffee maker. The drawer fronts are Padouk and the rest of the piece is of Katata. I was told at the lumber yard that Katata is also called Mexican Ebony, and it had a very nice dark, dark color. When I resawed the lumber, the new faces were not nearly as dark. It took several days for the newly exposed wood to darken. For some applications, Katata might do as an Ebony substitute, but certainly not for a fretboard on a mandolin.

The drawers are constructed with 1/4 inch box joints, and have a little cleat on the bottom that slides in a groove cut in the bottom.

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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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Scroll Saws and Whales

Orca, or Killer Whale, Inuit Style

 

Anyone who knows me knows that I have an appreciation for cetacians, or marine mammals. I have kayaked with dolphins at the NC coast, with manatees at the Florida Gulf coast, with humpback whales in Alaska, with Orcas, or Killer Whales in British Columbia; I have traveled to Baja, Mexico to see the Gray Whales in Magdelena Bay, and to snorkel with sea lions in the Sea of Cortez, and I traveled to the South Pacific Island Kingdom of Tonga in September 2011 to snorkel and swim with Humpback whales there. So, upon getting a great deal on a scroll saw, some of the first projects I attempted were whales.

The Orca was based on drawings and carvings I saw in British Columbia, especially in Alert Bay, the home to many First Nation families. Their totem poles, ceremonies, artwork and overall way of life was fascinating to me on my trip to North Vancouver Island. This cutout of an Orca in plywood became a gift to a good friend I met in Tonga while whale watching. Simone Rigoni was also visiting Tonga from Australia, where he had been living for about a year. He is from Italy, and just before leaving Australia for Italy, he blew his knee out playing basketball. It was a torn ACL, and he has since had surgery. He is also passionate about whales and dolphins, so I sent this to him as a “Get Well” token.

The Humpback Whale scroll saw project is also cut from plywood, and represents a depiction of a whale based on the Maori tradition and artwork, which is a major part of New Zealand heritage.

 

Humpback Whale, based on Maori artwork

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