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!