Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Walnut and Maple Jewelry Box

To the subject at hand: A walnut and maple box! This box was for a friend's birthday; I am proud to say not a single power tool touched it, and it is the first box I have made that is satisfactory. Also proud to say that the back came from Silver maple branches I sawed myself, pretty darn proud of that. 

Woods used: Walnut (I do not know what kind), curly rock maple, plain rock maple, spalted soft maple
Finish used: Danish Oil, plain

So, started with this cracked piece of walnut. Gotta lotta 'rejected' pieces from the yard. 

Sadly the board had more cracks that I did not see, which later caused problems. 

Here's the first set of dovetails; I did not have a set plan with this material, and I just went with how the material spoke to me and responded throughout the process. 

Here, I first was thinking of having a large base and a smaller top, giving it a feel of openness...Later I realized I could probably do the same thing by neglecting a door, but making the top and base a uniform width. 

Working with the restraints of spalted wood, naturally split along it's grain, was a bit of a challenge. Parts were prone to cracking which I repaired with shims or designed the back to take into account of.

The first thing is I wanted this box to be special; to incorparate a piece of the garden into the box was a high priority. This was the largest piece of spalted maple I had on hand, but it was not large enough to fit in a rabbet; I had arranged the box mainly around the walnut and curly maple pieces. 

So, I decided to come up with a method, loosely inspired by some ancient Viking designs, and boy do I mean loose. 

I attached the back using dovetails.

                                        I don't give a finish planing until everything's said and done, so don't worry about the above's picture!

First doevetail came down, but that spalted knot in the bottom looks like trouble. 

I've been making a switch from lacquers to oils and other finishes that aren't toxic.

And totally not because lacquer doesn't cure in the cold.

Danish Oil is perfect as it forms a nice protective finish while still allowing the natural wood feel to be present in the home; it also does not conflict with the nose and lungs, meaning it can be applied inside. 

I actually got beeswax and coconut natural soap bars for Christmas, the beeswax has proved a nice finish when combing with mineral oil, and I have yet to try a soap finish yet.

I hope you can see how I chamfered and rounded the back, the top, bottom, and sides so to give it almost a coopered look and feel; I felt this blended the materials into a coherent whole. 

So, I don't have anything nice to use as a backdrop; I did have this nice ray of sunshine in the garage, however.

I feel like a garage is a perfect backdrop, in a way, for my work- I try not to elevate my work above the reality of life. 

Curly maple is always a beauty. It's tough to work with, however it feels like looking into a lake on some days- seeing ripples appear before you, but if you walk away and look back on it, the ripples are gone. 

Spalted maple is beautiful. It really is an exhibit of the more abstract paintings of nature, and also a look into how the environment breaks down wood. 

                                                   Those half-blind dovetails, planed flush, were cut by my azebik. These were my first half blind doevetails and I do not think they came out terrible.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

A Late Merry Christmas!

This is a weird post.

everything in it is from now to November. 

Starting with now, I just got this Chinese calligraphy set for Christmas! It's very nice, there's a blank soapstone seal. I tried carving it, but it turned out really bad and I'll give it a retry one day. 

This is a huge jumble. On the left there is my attempt at 'Empathy Heals' in Chinese, then daiku in Japanese, then love heals in Chinese, then two attempts at "I don't speak Chinese", then I speak English,  at the bottom is I speak English in Korean.

I couldn't find my nib holder, despite having all my nibs and ink, so I tried making a quill from a raven feather. It seemed to work well, you can see my attempts with it at the bottom right.

It actually works better than Speedball nibs. 

So, this winter I've been looking more into the family's Polish cookbook. Here's some homegrown broccoli and potato dumplings. I had to substitute yogurt with eggs, as we have a lot of food allergies in the family. Also Italian garlic breadcrumbs as we didn't have plain breadcrumbs. Still tasted pretty darn good. 

This weather is so weird. The summer was too hot for lettuce, carrots, onions and broccoli, but now this warm weather has caused the seeds to sprout and send up leaves. The brocoli is tougher than steel, it survived the high heat this summer and is now loving the weather. I've harvested it twice in as many months, and it needs harvesting again. 

That isn't too weird for Broccoli, it took negative tempts to kill last year's plants. 

                                                I found this lovely poem in the cookbook.

I've been working on de-branching a tree that was felled by my uncle and grandfather a long time ago. 

It's really dry, but the wood seems to not have rotted as not a bit of it has touched the ground. I think it is Eastern white pine, but there are no needles to tell by. 

I tend to work when I can, and also around dusk-In my mind, Heaven is a place where it is always Dusk. It is the one time I can work without eye pain and being able to see perfect. Such a beautiful time of day. 

Bit nervewracking though, swinging an axe on a springy pine six-seven feet off the ground in the dark. 


Man, I really love winter sometimes. I hate when I can't work, but it's quiet; the darkness causes less pain; the house feels so much more cozy, the food is tastier- 

Winter is a time for perogie, for Gołąbki, for winter stews and chuck roast, of cozy winter nights and sleepy dogs.
Friends and family, songs, classic movies; watching movies in class before break and watching the clocks in the harder classes. 

Making gifts, giving them and receiving them, sleeping in and repairing yourself after long sleepless nights of studying and work.


But no snow, this year...so no moon lit cross country skiing in the woods. 

This weather makes broccoli and lettuce available, and the green grass shows; there's no snow to constantly shovel in the dark cold; but it's constant fluctuations and wetness is causing my knee quite a bit of pain. Makes it hard to move and get out of bed some mornings. 

Lord, if I'm complaining this much when I'm a teenager, I'm going to be the most insufferable old dude ever! 

I am not good at cookie-decorating. This is supposed to be Santa...

Here is a beautiful table at the Rochester Farmer's Market. Gabe, you'd probably love this place-Rochester is a very 'indie' city, at least the nice areas. Ya, we have the second highest crime rate in the state (higher than NYC, lower than Buffalo), but we got nice areas...The farmers market is one area I don't get extremely paranoid and panicky in. It was voted the best in the country; it still has that lovely brick from when there were only carriages and horses. Lots of crafts, Finger lake wine, NY syrup, fruits, vegetables, and tons of flowers in spring. There are also a couple of distilleries right outside the Market, offering tours. 

Hmm, Gabe, did you get any Finger Lake wine while in the state? What about ice wine? 

I am loving the surface produced by the pruning saw. 

The hickory branch has been drying since June; a couple months outside and a couple months in my shed. It was too dry to split, so I sawed it into planks with the resawing saw, Oromis. I am getting better, later I realized the planks I had sawn had fit together perfectly off the saw. 

I saw a lantern, a Scandinavian one, made by Lumberjock's Mafe: http://lumberjocks.com/mafe/blog/series/12674

My mom walked by and said "Your making that for me? I love it!" 

I think the hickory would be a good wood for that lantern. Dense hardwood seems to be a good choice for lanterns. 

The hatchet is...interesting. This is my first handle, and looking at the pictures, I'm seeing a lot of my mistakes. It has this hardened back, and it has slots in the edge. 

one of my mother's friends remarked that it is a custom in Japan to send gifts, even if it's in a business transaction, with the expectation to recieve a gift in return. So, I started working on this spalted maple bowl for Murakami. I read on Google the gifts usually represent your area, so I think a bowl from my own tree, and a NY Conservationist magazine, will be perfect. 

We're now back in November; my uncles had found this bench at my Grandmas, probably used in the construction of it. Interesting to see how timeless benches can be. 

Here is a huuuuuge cricket I found on my shed doors one morning in the Fall. It was really lethargic, and wouldn't move much-it moved really slowly. I picked it up and set it on a flower. 

So, here's a Walnut, Curly, Plain, and Spalted Maple jewelry box I made for a friend for her Sixteenth birthday. I was thinking of cramming the box into this post, but I think it'd fit better in a separate post, that way I can earmark it in the top of the blog.

How do I do that, anyways?

Merry Christmas! 

And Happy New Years! 

Saturday, November 14, 2015

The finished Azebiki

This is really embarrassing, showing this saw.

 the teeth are terrible, the stuff that only a depraved, twisted mind could produce,

or a teenager. 

I have to find a way to file better, my vise keeps moving around even when my toolbox is filled with hammers and my file-box. 

I also wish I had made it taller, I will get more material next time...I REALLY want to get a stockpile of this pine, it's so nice to work with. 

                                                                 “If only, if only," the woodpecker sighs,
                                                            "The bark on the tree was as soft as the skies."
                                                             While the wolf waits below, hungry and lonely,
                                                                                Crying to the moo-oo-oon,
                                                                                            "If only, If only.”


well, here was a cut I made at midnight. Spent maybe a minute on it including the 'layout' (Grabbing a piece of maple). It works pretty well on this pine mortising board (Doesn't everyone have a mortising board? Just a scrap on the floor that you put wood on to chop and mortise?)

Seems to work well here. If only half blind mortises in sugar maple was this easy. 

Next to my four inch combination square. 

And next to my bow saw. 

I oddly enough still use my bow saw very frequently, often because Japanese saws are fragile. And when you have some nasty-grained sugar/rock maple or hickory that is quite capable of bending your saw in half (That...totally...hasn't happened. And I totally didn't have to flatten it out and count my lucky stars it bent at the tang.), there is really nothing better suited than a 9tpi, stubby, rip tooth blade. 

Underneath is the maple beam I am attempting to plane flat after my disastrous attempt at hewing. I am glad this maple wasn't sugar, it is a red maple if I identified the tree correctly. Red maple is known as soft maple at the lumberyard, but that's a vague term; Rock maple applies to sugar maples and soft applies to everything else, if I recall correctly. 

Any ideas what I should do with these maple branches? Part of me really wants to build a good workbench and store it somewhere until I have room. It'd definitely be a real anarchist's workbench, not a Home Depot love song; a workbenmch of hand-hewn hickory and maple, felled by lightning in Northeastern storms. 

It would tell one hell of a story. 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Staple Vise!

Got your interest with the title, but first, let me gloat over my two new hammer heads; Left I will use to set saw teeth, the right I am thinking of trying to make a saw tensioning hammer out of. 

                                                          Now to the staple vise.

I was worried about making one, being unable to forge...until I realized, oh ya, metal isn't hard to bend, especially Home Cheap-O mild steel in a vise with physics working for you. 

After bending, I filed rough points onto the ends, drilled two slightly-smaller holes, and banged on the thing until it was about halfway through the wood. I then cut some wedges, don't know what angle; and went to see if this thing worked. 


It works...

This is the first time something has worked on the first try. This staple vise is so much better than a holdfast. 

Here are my 'sen'...The right is an old laminated blade I tried making into a kanna blade, complete with mock-hollow. It hurts to use, I can't figure out a way to make a handle for it. The chisel works better. 

Jason said that sen should be rounded slightly, sharpened at a very coarse grit, and used at an angle to the surface. Like, your going straight, but the blade is angled, sort of like using a plane on challenging wood. 

The results

Pretty nice! This sen-surface is lovely. This is my attempt at an azebiki nokogiri, New York style, with my attempt at 'progressive' teeth and a dual-sided flush cut saw. I have the rip teeth done so far on the azebiki nokogiri. For reference, the chisel is a 1/2" chisel. 

Better shots of the teeth of the flush cut, one side crosscut one side fine rip. 

The cut surfaces are pretty smooth, I need to make a handle for it, though. Cuts pretty fast, for my first saw. 

It took quite a while to make, but it should be useful. I learned a tremendous amount making this saw; I experimented with many different ways of creating teeth, you can probably tell. 

I ended up making the crosscut teeth by holding the file slightly upwards, at around a 15 degree angle, file one way, flip the vise around, file at the same angles, and you get a nice crosscut tooth. Repeat this, and I got nice spacing, similarly-shaped teeth. Finish up with the third facet, and there you go! 

The teeth came out chubby, which is OK, after all I will use it a lot for plane-making. 

Gather around, children, for spooky tales of woodworking horrors...

These teeth are on a very large ryoba I have. It has a loud voice, likes to be heard, and isn't shy to sing you a ballad; it sounds real nice, so it's fortunate for me. Nice signature, it had quite a bit of rust on it though. 

Odd, though: The nicks in the teeth. I guess even masters have that problem. Or maybe it was intentional? 

I am a cynic, in that I often see things as mistakes instead of  'on purpose'; after all, woodworkers are often guilty of 'inspirational design changes' when a project goes wrong. A song played wrong is an 'interpretation'. 

I just can't see how this nick would help in the sawing. And when it happens on each tooth...Well. My prevailing theory is that the sharpener or forger, or possibly user, was tuning the teeth and the file needed also coincidentally filed slightly into the next tooth. Doesn't effect sawing, so it is left there. 

Friday, October 16, 2015

Kantele, Part One

Update on the toolbox. Thinking of repeating the dragons on the other side, with maybe a full vineyard image. 

My friend gave me a violin, she got bored with it and was giving it away. It was a $20 eBay violin, good for learning on. Plastic everything, except for the soundboard which is plywood.

I've seen violins made of acrylic that perform really well. I have seen a player play Beethoven on a hose. It's all about the player. 

I made a spalted maple and walnut paper/phone stand as a thank you, I think it came out nice. Didn't really measure anything, but this way my first angled tenon. 


So, here's the first pieces for the kantele, with a nice artsy shot. Maple for the soundboard. I first was going to use the pine for the sides, but decided that it will probably be better to save that bit for a violin.

I cut the angled bits; The kantele is wonderful because you can get really creative on it. The first kantele, if national poems can be believed, was made from the hair of a demon horse and the jawbone of a monstrous pike. The rest of them were usually pine or birchwood, carved from one piece; the kantele is said to hold a lot of magic and can protect a house from evil spirits, and the right songs can cure sickness.

I planed a slight angle on it; my first one had a 15 degree angle, but this time I want to go with an almost non-existent angle. 

I marked where I wanted to carve out

And got to work. Now that the top is finished, I'll make the back and the sides. I also need to get thin metal to hold the strings in; I also want to use this instrument to test some violin-making techniques out. Namely, using hot hide glue and varnish. Apparently violins need a special kind of varnish, that needs to be homemade from local trees? 

Well, I guess I can probably use my quenching bucket to heat up the hot hide glue; I've decided instead of carving it out, I will just drill a really deep hole in the center and burn it out. When I need to make glue, I'll fill it up with boiling water, let it heat up the jar, and heat up the glue and take it out when it's the right temperature. Might also help warm up the shed in the cold winter ahead. If it's like last year, though...I ain't stepping outside.