I launched my Etsy shop yesterday, and one of the things I’ve noticed right off the bat is that I don’t have enough items for sale. I’m hoping to get at least one of the other box designs that I posted earlier done in the next few weeks. Even so, I want to offer some lower priced items as well. So today I started sketching some ideas for picture frames.

I’m especially excited about the frame that I just did the close detail for, with the copper strapping!

Which is your favorite that you would like to seem me complete? Would you, or someone you know, be interested in picture frames like this?

Shaped box concept

January 21, 2010

Concept 1

Concept 2

This is another box concept I’m currently working on. It will require a lot of shaping with rasps, spokeshaves, and planes, which I’m VERY excited about. I had a tough time trying to draw other proportional sketches of this box, so the above sketches really don’t show whats fully in my head.

I had an idea for the corner joints, a splined miter that would show up when the wood is shaped into the gentle curves. Since I couldn’t get it drawn, I just decided to do a test piece:

I am thrilled with how it turned out! Can’t wait to get started on this one. The wood in the test joint is Maple and the spline is Bubinga, as those are what I had in the shop. Not sure what the final box will be made of, but it will have to be something where the grain will be an integral part of the design.

After being so thrilled with the way my first box turned out, I’ve decided to design and build a few more different styles. I’ve drawn this one a few different ways now, and I’m still not sold on it completely. It may just be my inability to draw, so I might mock one up. At the very least, I’m going to draw it up in Sketchup and see how it looks. I think one of the problems is that the bevel on the top is not wide enough.

I am wanting to use a light colored wood (maybe Holly) and then Ebony for the handles and keys. I really like the look of the keyed miter, the different sized keys somehow compliments the lip on the lid. The thick line towards the top is where the lid starts. A thin veneer of Ebony on the lid and the top of the sides will define the opening. The lid will be hinged.

I’m also very happy with the look of the handles, at least how I imagine them in my head. Not sure if the drawing shows them truly how I’m thinking.

I’m also not sure about the feet. I have them drawn as ebony rods that are the full depth of the box in length. My wife loves them, I like them one time when I look at it and the next time I feel like they don’t fit the style.

I’ve now applied two coats of linseed oil and beeswax. Need to wait a couple days before I can put a 3rd coat on, and then another week, when I may finish with Shellac.  Once that is done, I will get some final pictures of it before giving to my friend who is eager to give it to his mother.  I will be posting those final pictures on a couple different sites, like Etsy.com, in order to sell a few more of them.  I will do a limited number of them, each with its number carved into the bottom.

Until the final finish is applied and those pictures taken, I wanted to post some pictures of it as it looks now, with two coats of the linseed oil and beeswax mix. A couple of them are some nice detail shots.

These next couple of shots were taken right after I finished applying the second coat of the oil, so its still pretty shiny:

Its a simple little box, but I absolutely love it. Its my favorite item I’ve made yet. A lot of that has to do with the fact that so much of it was done by hand. The handplaning and hand cutting of the dovetails is an incredibly special process. It is fulfilling in a way that no power tool can be. There is a peacefulness to using handtools that is simply unexplainable until you’ve tried it. The sound of a handplane taking amazingly thin shavings, the feel of a chisel in your hand, the balance of a well built dovetail saw that cuts with precision, these are beautiful to me.

Even the act of choosing the wood for a project is an amazing experience. When I found the piece of Butternut that I would use for this box, I immediately knew it was the one. The part of the board that became the center panel in the top just jumped out at me for that purpose, and that purpose only. I find that process of figuring out how to use the grain in a piece of wood to be extremely worshipful. I can’t help but praise God for the beautiful creation and feel incredibly blessed that I get the privilege of creating something new with it.

This project has been an important step for me, as it has taught me quite a lot. At the beginning design phase, I sought out the input of fellow woodworkers whom I admire and trust. It was humbling and encouraging to open myself up to others opinions. I’m not always very good at getting critiques, so its a good thing for me, and something I will probably do for many projects. Actually, another fellow woodworker has embarked on a project along those lines of opening his design process up to open critique. Jamon Schlimgen is posting a new sketch of a design everyday over at his blog. You should be sure to check it out.

It has been very exciting to take another design from idea to finished project. With each new project, my confidence increases, and I remember again why I love what I do.

Lastly, I have learned (and am still learning) a new skill set: the handcut dovetail. I love it! I spent a lot of time practicing them, which has greatly payed off. I can’t wait to make some more. It has become a very relaxing exercise. My friend (and honestly, a mentor), Adam King, says that cutting dovetails is therapy. I absolutely agree.

I sincerely hope that I can sell a few more of these boxes, because it is such an enjoyable project. You can also expect to see some more designs for other boxes like this coming throughout this year. Until then, you can expect the final pictures of this box in a couple weeks.


Butternut/Walnut box update

January 10, 2010

The box is completely assembled! Only thing left to do is apply the linseed oil and bees wax finish. And so, without further ado: