Tuesday, December 26, 2017

elm and walnut...

On the days leading up to Christmas I made a small gift box to hold a necklace wrapped up for my wife Jean. The lid is figured walnut and the lower part is bent elm only about 1/16 in. thick.  It was incredibly easy for me to make, but making it required having the tools and materials on hand.

As my wife suggested upon opening her gift, "you could sell these." And I believe I could. But could this not also serve as inspiration for you to make your own? And would that not be an even better thing?

The making is simple. One sixteenth of an inch being the ideal thickness for a box this size, I start with thicker wood and saw it into thin slices on the table saw. For this box the wood needs to be about 1-1/2 inch wide and about 16-18 in. long to pass safely through the saw. Two boxes can come from one strip of wood.

Soak a piece of the resawn elm in boiling water for about 3 minutes to soften the lignin in the wood and thus making it flexible to bend. Wrap the wood into a coil and squeeze it in the vise or with clamps into an oval shape. When the wood has dried, it will retain most of its shape. Decorate the end that will be visible on the outside of the box, do some sanding where the ends overlap, and glue the loose ends together with one end over the other and glue between.

Use 3/16 in. thick wood to form the bottom. Trace the shape of the box sides onto the bottom material so it can be cut and sanded to shape. Do the same to form a lid keeper that will hold the lid in place at the top of the box. Install the bottom using shaker tacks to hold it in place. Glue the lid keeper to the underside of the material you've selected to be the out lid, and shape it as you want it to look. I chose a dome shape, but no box needs to be exactly the same.

There are, of course things that I cannot tell you: Things that you'd best learn on your own in order that your box reflect your own decisions, likes, character and relentless growth.

Today I'll be assembling boxes for the Chancellor's office at the University of Arkansas. Join me in working with our hands.

Make, fix, and create in service to family, community and humanity.

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