Tuesday, March 19, 2013

making the best of things...

Rough wood lids provide contrasting texture.
As I was working on boxes to illustrate proportion, I made the sidewalls of trays too thick, so I made thinner ones and turned the first trays into boxes. These you can see in the photo above. The lids are made with rough sawn wood, still marked by the large blade that ripped it into lumber years ago. I used a wire brush to remove loose material and fuzz. Then I sanded it lightly with 320 grit sand paper, just to make it comfortable to the touch. As usual, these small boxes will be pretty (or at least interesting and useful) when they are sanded and the Danish oil is applied.

I've been making many more boxes than normal. Last September, Crystal Bridges Museum asked me if I would make 300 boxes to serve as thank you gifts for their first year staff. Those had to be completed for distribution at the first anniversary party in November. When the museum founder heard about the boxes, she asked that I make another 500 boxes to give to their first year volunteers. Those I delivered in mid December. Now that the museum has had plenty of time to put 800 boxes into the hands of first year staff and volunteers, I no longer have to keep this box making extravaganza a secret.

The boxes were made with woods harvested on the museum site during the first phase of construction, so each box has a special connection with the museum grounds. I served as a volunteer consultant when the woods were first first processed from logs to lumber, so it was a particularly meaningful thing for me to have the opportunity to make boxes from those woods.

Two bracelet boxes glued at the same time.
 In any case, I am now having some difficulty not making boxes in larger than normal numbers and my wife is wondering what we'll do with all of them.

I also started the 4th project for my new book, this one illustrating contrast through making a small series of bracelet boxes. Each will be different. The primary box in the chapter is walnut and the corners are secured by hidden splines that will be visible only when the hinged lid is opened. These new boxes are made to be glued up two at a time.

I learned that my Master Class making wooden hinges for Fine Woodworking is scheduled for issue number 234, which should come out in July.

This is spring break for the Clear Spring School, so I am getting just a bit of extra time in my own wood shop.

Make, fix and create...


  1. Those boxes look really good.
    I like the contrast between the sides and the insert splines. A very nice touch.
    Since I mill my wood myself I always look at wood to see if it was milled with a circular saw,a bandsaw or a mulesaw. Each saw makes its own specific pattern.
    The marks on these lids definetely make them visually interesting in another way that a normally nice piece of wood would not do.
    Brgds Jonas

  2. Jonas, there is a saying in English that every tool leaves its mark. The circular sawmill is almost a thing of the past now in the US, with most lumber being milled with band mills.

    If we think of woodworking being a form of story telling, that is done in partnership with the wood, then we see that the rings, knots, grain, tell the story of the wood, and then the tool markings tell of the wood's engagement with man.

    I like that the viewer has a choice. The outside is rough and the inside is finished to normal expectations.

    I'm glad you like the boxes.

  3. Doug,

    Great use of rough-sawn wood to add interest.