Something Different

While the glue dried on the carcase, I thought I’d try something a little different with this box. Having made a version of wood dye, from ground walnut hulls, I decided to slather a bit on the poplar lid and bottom, in the hopes of offering some semblance of age. As the pieces soaked-up the dye, I fashioned a pair of hinge cleats from a stick of pine.

The poplar most definitely darkened, making the walnut look rather anaemic! But, after affixing the hinge cleats with glue and wooden pegs, I slathered the whole box with boiled linseed oil and turpentine, and things evened out just fine! Once the aroma of turpentine withers, I’ll add this box to the wareroom.

I guess it’s now time to sweep up and figure out what’s next!

Really Scary!

Since my last post, the World Health Organization has confirmed an additional 205,000 cases of COVID-19. The death toll is nearing 25,000. With almost 70 cases and one death in my immediate area, things have become rather scary! All we can do is continue our social distancing and pray for things to get better. To keep my mind occupied, I continue to work on my walnut box.

Sawing through the carved board is quite unnerving, but what an exercise in improving ones saw skills!

With the individual parts freed, I cut rebates and formed the pintles. Then grooves and dados were cut for the till. Usually, the till is of pine, but in this case, I used some resawn mahogany. Why not?

Once the till parts are wedged nicely between the front and back, and a little glue applied at the corners, clamps help assure squareness until nails can secure things properly.

In the next day or so, I will nail on the bottom and attach the lid via hinge cleats. Stay tuned!

Gettin' Closer!

Social distancing, self-quarantine, curfews, the threat of martial law, and no toilet paper, things are getting scarier by the hour. At last count, my Covid-19 tracker showed 344,752 confirmed cases with 14,862 deaths worldwide. I pray that the powers-to-be know what they are doing. I am thankful for the members of the medical community fighting for answers. I guess all we can do at this point is to be pragmatic. Wash our hands often and try to stay out of harm’s way!

Being retired, I’m quite used to the home front. My bride is now able to work from home a couple of days a week. So, we are enjoying each other’s company, as we often do. Being homebodies, we have not experienced the ill-effects of social distancing. We do however miss being able to attend church. Hopefully, this will change sooner than later.

Continuing with my End-of-the-World project, I managed to complete the carving phase. The rain has moved in again, stealing my precious light. We should have sunshine soon, though, and I can start turning this carved board into a box.

So, despite the rain and these scary times, have Faith and know that God is watching over us all.

End of the World Project

The other day, Bill Lattanzio, The Slightly Confused Woodworker published, Seeking a Woodworking Project for the End of the World, lamenting the woes of shop reorganization and the trials and tribulations of the COVID-19 pandemic. Responding to Bill’s post, I told him that I was starting a carved box and asked him to join me. He agreed.

My “End of the World Project” will be a, 13″ deep by 25″ wide by 9″ high, carved box in walnut with perhaps a linden top and bottom. Grabbing a piece of chalk, I sketched out some inverted lunettes and S-scrolls on the front and sides and immediately started carving.

There’s nothing to it really, just place the gouge in the right spot and give it a whack with a mallet!

Perhaps you’d like to join us. Grab a gouge or two and get to work. Who knows how much time we have left!

Trash or Treasure?

Having completed the construction of my gummy cherry and mahogany sliding-top box, I slathered on some boiled linseed oil and turpentine and placed in the sun for a few hours. Allowing it to dry, I decided to clean up the shop a bit. I was amazed at the amount of waste produced while building such a little box.

It doesn’t matter how well I think I have tidied up; there will always be that errant stick of a board laying around. This cleaning session was no different. Wedged under the bench were a few sticks of linden. They were too big to throw away and yet not enough there with which to do anything substantial.

But au contraire, after practising with some grooves, a few mortise and tenon joints, and of course a couple of tried and true carving patterns, I found myself making a picture frame!

At first, I thought of simply cutting a piece of hardwood for a panel and carving it as well. Then it dawned on me! Why not insert a mirror? A large mirror will not only aid in dovetailing but will help with resawing.

Now, as soon as I can get to the hardware store for a piece of mirrored glass, the sooner I can return my bride’s hand mirror.

My Old Friend

Mother Nature smiled upon me with a yet another beautiful day. I felt compelled to build a drawer before I slept. Getting an early start, I ripped some 3/8″ thick pine and laid out tails for half-blind dovetails.

The pins in the mahogany drawer front are a bit more challenging, especially at this small size. But with a little patience, I achieved satisfactory results. I end my half-blind dovetails with a tail, as to allow for the rebate to receive the drawer bottom. If you recall, the bottom, in this case, is mahogany; leftover from resawing the lid.

After some gentle persuasion, things went together well, and my sliding-top box was sporting a half-blind dovetailed drawer.

To keep the drawer from arbitrarily sliding out, I devised a simple locking mechanism.

And with that, it’s over. The very next sunny day will see a slathering of boiled linseed oil and turpentine. The cherry will bake in the sun, taking on that unique patina. The mahogany should darken to a deep maroon. Then it’s off to the selling table. For me, satisfaction is in the construction. Each piece is dear to me, having spent so many hours with it. I find it somewhat sad when a project comes to a close. It may sound strange to some, but when a piece does finally leave my shop, it’s like saying goodbye to an old friend.

Top it Off

With what turned out to be a beautiful “spring” day, I managed to complete the carving on my sliding-top box.

After a bit of tweaking here and there, things went together quite well. At least there are no glaring gaps in the dovetails!

Having resawn a small piece of mahogany, I ended up with a stable 1/2″ thick top. The leftover piece, I do believe, will be used as a drawer bottom. Why not a mahogany drawer bottom? What’s the adage; waste not, want not, right? After cutting rebates on three sides of the top piece, I carved it and fit it to the carcase. All that is lacking at this point is a floor and a drawer!

Coming Round…

Despite the damp weather, I soldiered on to the long sides of the box. I stated earlier that I was appropriating a design from Peter Follansbee. After a few modifications, I managed to get it laid-out with gouge strikes only. I know now why I purchased that 35mm No. 7 straight gouge.

To get an idea what the finished product would look like I gave it a quick rub-down with turpentine. With the background removed and a few decorative gouge strikes and punch marks added, it looks pretty good. At least I’m pleased with the results.

I like how the pattern wraps around the back corner. How about you?

With Mother Nature’s help, I hope to be glueing-up this box in a day or so. Stay tuned!

Cart Before the Horse

This box needs to be glued-up before attempting to fit the sliding-top and drawer. Yet, I need to carve before the glue-up. With this newfound revelation, I trained my focus on the carving platform. Thanks to Peter Follansbee, I discovered a pattern (with a few modifications of course) that will circumnavigate this dovetailed box quite nicely.

The leaf motif will wrap around three sides. For the working end of the box, I chose a running-cable pattern.

Before continuing the carving on the long sides, I decided to stop and sweep the floor. All of those little thumbnails can be quite slippery! I sift the debris through a bonsai dirt sieve. I like to keep tiny scraps of wood for making wedges, small repairs, and such. This practice pays off, especially if you are in the market for a small drawer-pull.

Having taken the time to fashion and install the drawer-pull, I called it a day. I’ll pick-up where I left off tomorrow… if it doesn’t rain!

If you don’t …

I seem still to be at odds with Mother Nature, as rainy or overly cloudy days abound. Sporadic shop time plays havoc with one’s skills. My heart goes out to the weekend warriors, especially when it comes to hand-cut dovetails. When I was in the U.S. Army as a musician, we had a saying, “If you don’t practice for a day, you’ll know it. If you don’t practice for two days, other musicians will know it. If you don’t practice for a week, everyone will know it!”

Unfortunately, my supply of gummy cherry did not hold up to my lack of practice. Not once, but twice, did I mistakenly remove waste from the wrong side of the mark! Yet, after a slight design change, I managed to get the carcase of my sliding-top box dovetailed together using a piece of mahogany. Mahogany and gummy cherry complement one another, right? I think the contrast will be striking once the box is completed and oiled.

With the carcase together, the grooves cut and the drawer front separated from the end, it’s time to resaw a piece of mahogany for the sliding top and find some pine for the drawer parts.

Stay tuned. I promise to have this completed before Christmas. LOL!