Monday, January 12, 2009

And Now I Can Talk About It...

In an earlier blog, I mentioned the present I'd made for someone on my wife's side of the family for Christmas. I couldn't talk about it at the time because the gift had not been presented yet.

It has since been presented. And now I can talk about it...

Unfortunately, as I was making this box along side the other box mentioned in a recent post, I don't have in-progress shots for this one, either. I guess my problem is that I don't think of writing several blogs for just one project. Ah, well. Maybe next time.

This project started out, as most of mine do, with one piece of wood. In this case, it was the curly mahogany lid - a board I picked up off eBay, along with some other similar-sized panels.

I enjoy buying from this seller. Since it is eBay, I can occasionally get a good price on some interesting wood, but mostly it is because he lives about seven blocks away from me, as the crow flies, and I can pick up my winnings on the way home from work, thus avoiding any shipping costs.

The maple compliments the lid quite well and I followed the curly mahogany thread with the keyed miters, lid lift, and internal dividers. I try to keep my boxes a little more on the simple side; it is purely opinion, but I've never found much attraction to the box made out of seven different species of wood.

I've recently decided to go "all Brusso" on my hinges. They are a little more expensive (ok, a lot more expensive), but they make up for it in ease of installation and in quality and I like the built-in 95 degree stop. I can usually save a bit more on them if I wait for WoodCraft's bag sale and get a 15% discount on whatever I can fit in a brown paper sack - that's when I clean out what butt hinges they have in stock.

(My wife always laughs when I say "butt hinge"... and she calls me the childish one!)

The inside of this box is the second I've lined with wool tartan and I'm highly pleased with how it turned out. This particular piece of Ancient Campbell tartan (with lots left over) came to me via my mother-in-law, who picked it up in Scotland when she was there in the 1960's. I quickly decided I wouldn't try centering the tartan pattern in the box. It doesn't have to be off by very much to look bad, so I just make sure the tartan stripes stay parallel to the edges of the box.

I applied several layers of shellac to the inside of the box prior to assembly and several layers of Waterlox to the rest of the box post assembly. I then finished the finish with four-ought steel wool and Renaissance wax.

The completed box went to my wife's uncle, Kevin. He seemed quite pleased with it. Although some of the construction was a bit tedious, given my workshop conditions and the time of year, the hardest part was bringing it from Saint Louis to Ohio, unscathed, on an airplane.

My only concern with this box is that I've set a precedence for future Christmases. On my wife's side of the family, we draw names for one gift to give under the guise of Secret Santa. Last year, I turned a cigar pen out of bog oak (and I thought turning osage orange was difficult!) for one of Dana's other uncles, George. I believe I one-upped myself with this box.

I suppose I'll have to maintain the status quo next year, won't I? On a bright note, unless we start driving up for Christmas, I'm at least limited by size in that it has to fit under the seat in front of me on the plane.


The Village Carpenter said...

Ethan, you did a great job on the box -- the wood choice and tartan fabric complement each other beautifully. I'm with you on simpler designs. I read somewhere (FWW?) that you can use up to 3 different design elements, which includes wood, for a project to look good without going overboard.

Ethan said...

Ah, much thanks on the compliment, VC!

I tend to be highly critical of my own work (mostly a result of the group- and self-critiques I was a part of in my studio classes in college), so I don't often compliment myself.

For example, in this piece I keep staring at the miters, thinking I could have made them tighter. I also had a little tearout in the inside that I didn't deal with well enough. The lid was a touch loose because I took too much off the length of the lid (I think you need more room for movement as the board expands along its width than along its length).

There was also a nice mention of design elements (and over-doing it) in the last issue of PWW. It was in the Greene&Greene article, where they talked about incorporating one or two elements of the G&G style into your piece, but not trying to incorporate EVERY element of that style into the work.

I have some (what I think are) really great ideas for boxes in the G&G style. I'd like to hash them out this year, at least in a test project or two...

I really will work harder on taking in-progress pictures in the future, as well. Probably breaking it up into logical groups (design, cutting wood to size and joinery, assembly, inlay, and then finishing) and thus writing several entries about the same piece will help on that.

Anonymous said...

23 January 2009

Grey Stone Green:

Can you describe your method for securing/affixing the tartan lining to the bottom of the box (assuming that it is)?


Phil Lang

P.S. Whatever happened to the pictures of the wall cap on the stairs?

Ethan said...

Sure thing, Phil!

After a bit of playing around, I determined this was the best method for me:

1. Cut a piece of thick (as thick as I could find) posterboard to just 1/32" under the inside dimensions of the box (both length and width).
2. Lay the tartan out, show side down, and position the board where I want it.
3. Mark the placement of the board at one corner with blue painters tape (so I know where to put it once I apply the glue).
4. Spray one side of the board with 3M spray adhesive (I use a "spray box" for this part, which is really just an open cardboard box with one side cut out).
5. Lay the posterboard, glue side down, on the tartan, using my marked corner as a layout guide.
6. Trim the tartan fabric to leave a 1.25 inch border on all sides (or whatever the width of my ruler is). At that point, you basically have a rectangle of tartan, with a posterboard rectangle centered on it.
7. Next I "clip" each of the corners, taking off a triangle of fabric, but leaving about 1/8 inch of fabric at each corner of the cardboard (this might be best shown with a picture). This leaves a "tab" of fabric on each side for folding over. If you don't leave enough fabric at the corners, then it won't cover it properly.
8. The final step came with some experimentation... I first tried keeping the tabs folded with spray adhesive. It worked, but was messy. Rubber cement didn't work that well, either. I finally decided to use my double-stick tape (heavy duty woodworking kind, not Scotch) to keep them in place. Works great.
9. Press the new bottom into box. For fit, I'm looking for a little effort to push it all the way to the bottom, without actually bending or distorting the posterboard.

Ahh... the wall cap. I've got to be honest with you, Phil, I still haven't followed through with that. But boy, if pressure from my wife wasn't bad enough... pressure from a reader might just force me to complete that project!