Walnut Burn Pile

By , 28 February, 2014, No Comment
Wood I brought back

Wood I brought back

Earlier this month I was in Phoenix visiting my brother and his family.  Before I left Omaha, I searched the area for woodworking stores in the area.  This is a normal routine for me, and I typically have to sort out the flooring and cabinetmaker shops from the search list.  I found one listed that looked very promising, Woodworker’s Source  only 15-20 minutes from my brother’s house.

Wow, what a great source of wood!  I saw bundle after bundle of exotics and domestic lumber.  Of course when you are traveling, there is only so much you can put into a suitcase.  They were eager to ship anything I wanted, but I was not prepared to pay on this trip.  They do offer to select wood per your specifications and send them to you, but I kind of like picking my own.

I am making boxes currently, and I went looking for figured woods that I could afford and get back home.  I discovered out in the shop two pallets of odds and ends black walnut pieces that varied in size from 15 inches to 6 inches in length and from 9 inches to 2 inches in width.  Most of them were figured wood from crotch or branch locations.  And to top it off, they were $4.00 for each piece!!!  Had I been in my own truck, I would have taken an entire pallet (if my wife had not been along), but I knew I needed to be selective.

The crazy part of the story is that they got these pieces from a furniture maker in Chicago that cut these ends off their wood and BURNT them to dispose of them.  I don’t know how they found out about them, but they said they had a market for those cast-offs.  Burnt them??!!

After discussing this with my brother and my wife, I decided to buy pieces large enough for my projects, but a small enough quantity that I could get them into a USPS flat rate box.  Later we found a flat rate box that was 24 inches by 12 by 3 inches.  I got everything into that one box with a tiny bit of room left.  So, back to the store I went the next morning to pick up a little bit more, and picked out a small piece of ebony that would fit into the end of the box.  I included 3 pieces that would not fit in the box, but I knew I could add them to my suitcase.  My brother mailed the box to my house and I carried the other 3 pieces in my luggage.  We are all happily home now in my shop!

And, the sweet gal who worked the counter gave this Omaha boy a club member discount, so each piece was $3.33 apiece.  Not a bad price for highly figured walnut firewood!

Look for some of these rejects to show up in some nice boxes in the near future.  If you plan to travel to Phoenix, stop by and check them out — but save the firewood for me.

 

 

Fishtail Oak And Birdseye Maple Box

By , 4 February, 2014, 3 Comments
Fishtail Oak and Birdseye

Fishtail Oak and Birdseye

Just finished a box made of a wood known locally as Fishtail Oak (eucalyptus) with a Birdseye Maple lid and an ebony handle.  The Fishtail has a wonderful pattern to it that ranges from small ovals to long stretched out ovals.  I decided to pair it with another wood that has its own type of ovals, birdseye maple.

Inside Fishtail Oak Box

Inside Fishtail Oak Box

Looking into the inside of the box you can see some of the variations in the ovals.  This makes for a great deal of interest in this wood, and keeps the eye moving.  The oak is a very splintery wood and feels very dry as it is being worked.  But like a lot of woods, it really pops when the finish is applied.

Fishtail Oak Left Corner

Fishtail Oak Left Corner

Every angle with this box gives the eye something to look at.  Even the finger joints have nice grain that is worth dwelling upon.  I bought an old radio at an auction about 30 years ago in Eustis, Nebraska (see below).  The blacksmith was selling out and my Dad wanted to attend.  I bought an old tube type radio that had leather and and wood.  This wood reminds me of that leather.

Birdseye Maple Top

Birdseye Maple Top

I used some of the birdseye that I picked up locally at Midwest Woodworkers.  Some of the pieces were really busy, and some not so much. This piece has a lot going on and it seemed to fit the pattern in the oak.  I am finding that I really enjoy working with birdseye.  It requires a nice sharp plane to work it, and it sands down really well if you use a very hard sanding block.  Otherwise, the little eyes are harder than the surrounding area and they stay noticeably higher.

Back Side of Fishtail with Birdseye Lid Open

Back Side of Fishtail with Birdseye Lid Open

I may decide to make another one of these boxes in the future.  I guess I will see how popular it turns out.  On this box I chose to use another ebony handle.  I considered making one from the Fishtail Oak, but stuck with something that I knew would look good.  But I think the oak might look great if done well.

Fishtail Oak and Birdseye With Ebony

Fishtail Oak and Birdseye With Ebony

Once again, I used Deft Danish Oil, and rubbed it down.

The box dimensions are 9 3/8 x 5 3/8 by 2 3/8 inches.

This box went home with my son Jess.

Old Radio

Old Radio

Oak Box

By , 1 February, 2014, No Comment
Inside Oak Box

Inside Oak Box

The quartersawn white oak body of this box was made from a very nice piece that I had left from another project.  I kept it in a special pile because it had some nice rays radiating across the width of the entire board.   I was never quite certain what I was going to do with it since it was less than 3 inches wide and about 3 feet long, but it seemed like the perfect candidate for a box.

Backside Open Oak Box

Backside Open Oak Box

The lid is from a board that I picked up some time back, and I liked it because it had some curl in the wood and certain portions of the board contained a lot of interest and color.  I believe it was being sold as curly cherry, but I have honestly forgotten.   You can see from these two pictures that the lid has some great character.

Oak Box Handle

Oak Box Handle Made of Curly Maple

I had no trouble deciding to match the lid wood to the body wood, but when I came to selecting a piece for the handle, I was at a loss.  I pulled my wife into the decision, and we laid out all of the options before us.  I had a small cut-off laying on another workbench nearby that I had tossed there after working on the previous curly maple box.  The piece was pretty small and it truly was just the end of a piece that I cut off to square up the end of the piece that I used for the front on the other box.

Oak BoxT op

Oak Box Top

Looking at it, we both saw great beauty in that little piece, and the color was perfect for the rest of the box.  So, I ended up using almost the entire piece, trimming off a little of the width and cutting the thickness down to about 5/16 inches.  I ended up with a handle that is a bit larger than I am comfortable with, but I managed to salvage all of the great figure.  In some ways the handle has become the focus of this box.

Once again, I used Deft Danish Oil, and rubbed it down, and the box dimensions are 9 3/8 x 5 3/8 by 2 3/8 inches.

This box went home with my son-in-law Tyler.

 

Curly Maple Box

By , 26 January, 2014, No Comment
Curly Maple Box With Sycamore Handle

Curly Maple Box With Sycamore Handle

Today I finished a box made from a piece of soft curly maple that I picked up in St. Joseph, MO a couple years ago.  This piece of wood contains some crazy figure on one end which I utilized for the body of the box and the bottom.  That portion of the plank must have been under a branch and the figure is going every which direction.

Curly Maple Box Insides

Curly Maple Box Insides

The lid is from the same piece, but further down the plank and it displays a more typical curl.  This lid is from the same piece that I used to make the lid for my wife’s box which was birdseye for the body.

As you can see looking into the box, the figure is different between the lid and the box body.

Curly Mapel Front and Handle

Curly Mapel Front and Handle

The handles for these boxes are the part that sometimes takes a bit of guessing.  For this handle I chose a piece of left over quartersawn sycamore that I also bought in St. Joseph.  I felt that the color blended nicely with the body and the lid, bringing the two together.

Sycamore Handle

Sycamore Handle

This closeup also shows some of the amazing figure there on the front, although the picture is kind of flat compared to real life.  Because the sycamore is quartersawn, the grain features from the front and from the top are very different.

Curly Maple Right Side

Curly Maple Right Side

My last photos show some of the amazing figure on this box.  The right side especially has some wonderful lines.  Had the front not been as spectacular as it was, I would have used this piece for the front.  I guess that the future owner of this box will have to decide which view they like best.

Curly Maple Front-Right Corner

Curly Maple Front-Right Corner

This last view shows off the two best sides of the box.  It is hard to believe that they came from the same piece of wood, just inches apart from one-another.

Honestly, I had the most trouble with this box of any that I have made.  This wood seemed to be very fragile, and I had to make a number of corrections during the process to salvage it.  Even during the glue-up, it bowed in a bit on the sides which caused me a few headaches in correcting.  But, it turned out about as well as I had hoped, and I am happy to have put the effort into it.

As always, this box was finished using Deft Danish Oil, and rubbed down.

The box dimensions are 9 3/8 x 5 3/8 by 2 3/8 inches.

This box went home with my friend Nick Bank as a graduation present for completing the program at Dallas Theological Seminary.

 

 

Red Zebrawood and Cherry Box #2

By , 15 January, 2014, No Comment
Front View

Front View

This is another box of the same Red Zebrawood or Ebiara, Curly Cherry and Ebony.  The top is Cherry and the rest is Ebiara except for the black Ebony highlights.

The differences between this box and the last that I made are that this one has less ebony and is a bit smaller.  The last had ebony shoulders on the front corners and this one does not.  It is also 1/2 inch smaller in width and length, and 1/4 inch shorter.

Front Left Corner

Front Left Corner

I like this combination, so I intend to make several boxes like this with small differences as I experiment with options.

The top for this one had less curl, but still had the green section running between the Cherry sapwood and heartwood.  It is just a nice transition of colors.

Showing the Transition of Colors

Showing the Transition of Colors

This piece was also right from the end of the board.  Sometimes the quality of the board does not seem great there, and I might cut off several inches.  But in this case I cut off only about 3/4 inch so that what was left was this great sunrise like grain patten.

Top Open

Top Open

Again, I had a good piece of Zebrawood for the bottom and it really gives the box a rich look to have the bottom the same color and to see the grain of the Zebrawood running all through the box.

Perhaps the most fascinating thing about this box is how much smaller it feels than the last, even though it is only that 1/2 inch smaller in width and length and 1/4 inch in height.  It feels like you could put a lot more stuff in the larger box.

This box went home with my brother Bob.