Thursday, September 13, 2012

thick and thin...

This morning I'm making small boxes from elm, maple and walnut. The walnut was delivered to me about 10 or 15 years ago. I heard a truck laboring up our road pulling a 14 foot trailer loaded with wood. The driver was missing a few teeth and was obviously down on his luck. He claimed to be selling the last remaining lumber from his father's "Thick and Thin Sawmill." The name of the mill came from the idea that they could cut wood thick or thin according to the buyer's preference, but the name became sort of a local joke because boards often came out thick at one end and thin at the other. After previously selling off all the good lumber, what came up my hill that day and sold cheap was what was left. Some was thick, some thin, and some both thick at one end and thin at the other and I still have some left. The texture left by being milled on a rotary mill, and the its weathered look makes it interesting to use when you realize that wood is the perfect story telling device. Where there there's a knot there was a limb, and every tool leaves its mark.

A friend asked me last night if I will ever grow tired of making boxes. I suppose if I were to ever stop learning from them and finding in them the opportunity to share with readers what I've learned I might. They are the perfect thing to make, as start to finish they take less time than other woodworking projects and they lend themselves to small batches, making several folks (besides the woodworker) happy at the same time.

In the photo above, you can see two versions of a box, one with the base routed, and with definition lines sanded where the lid meets the body of the box. The other still offers crisp edges. One of the goals of good 3-D design is to create a sense of unity within the object, and sense of unity with the object. It should pull your eyes and interest into the object, not lead the eye and mind away. A routed line at the bottom tells the viewer it is an object separate from the table upon which it rests. Fine lines sanded in the edges of top and body of the box tell the viewer, "it comes apart here," making its use clear. I think you can see the results here as simple lines give greater definition and sense of unity to the box. Unity is one of the basic principles of design.

Readers may also note that I am experimenting with boxes made with the grain going up and down rather than the conventional direction around the perimeter of the box. The advantage of this is that since all the grain is glued side grain to side grain, no more complicating joinery methods are required.

Make, fix and create...

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