The Evolution of an All-Wood Box Design – Part #3

This is part #3 of this series. Please make sure to read the previous part before you continue with this one. Thanks!

I use a variety of imported and domestic woods in my boxes. Species I use commonly are walnut, koa, padouk, bubinga and zebrawood. Recently I completed a small scale solar, lumber kiln with which I hope to make use of locally grown hardwoods. I often use combinations of two or three woods of contrasting colors in each box. I like the effects of mixed woods, since contrasting species bring out the best of each other’s grain and color. The use of mixed woods along with the exposed ends of the dowels adds to the character of my boxes.

Watching the reactions of people to my boxes at numerous craft fairs has been rewarding. It has also aided me in making design refinements. For the boxes without magnetic lid closures I had thought I should leave off the thumb hole as it seemed a discontinuity in the lines of the box. I made a batch without the thumb holes but soon realized my error. A person with large hands like mine who knows how the box works can easily raise the lid with one hand, but a person with small hands who isn’t quite sure how the lid opens may have to use two hands. Using two hands is an inconvenience, especially since many prospective buyers at craft shows have one hand fully carrying a purse of previous purchases. Also, fingernails can leave scratches in the wood while trying to get a grip on the lid. Needless to say, I now include a thumb hole in all of my boxes.

The Evolution of an All-Wood Box Design – Part #2

This is a continuation, please refer to part #1 before you continue reading.

The last feature I talked about in the previous article would only work if the lid stayed closed. To insure that the lid didn’t come open unintentionally, I installed a spring clasp. To provide a means of opening the box, I made a small recess in the center of the front, which allowed room for the thumb hold on the lid. With this, the design was complete.

For the first box I used walnut for the lid and bottom, mahogany for the front, oak for the back and ends, and aromatic cedar for the partitions. I glued the unfinished cedar partitions into the box after I had finished it inside and out with two coats of tung oil. Thus, upon opening the box, one is met with a waft of cedar aroma. As a final touch, I lined the inside bottom of the box with green felt.

The Evolution of an All-Wood Box Design – Part #1

At some point during almost every wood enthusiast’s woodworking career, he or she builds a wooden box. Some build only one or two, while others devote considerable time and effort to this subject. I belong to the latter group, and after spending some time making conventional boxes, I designed a box that not only satisfied me and pleased the person I gave it to, but also has become a major product of my small but expanding woodcrafts business.

The first several boxes I made were the conventional, six-sided rectangular type. For these I used brass hinges with glue and screw construction. The screwheads were countersunk below the surface of the wood and the recesses filled with wood filler. The glue and screw technique was a substitute for my lack of suitable clamps (and know-how) at the time. The screws held the joints in place and I could continue working on a piece while the glue dried.

The Quest For The Thinnest Blade

I live in an area which produces some of the most beautiful walnut in the whole world. Along with other woodcraftsmen, I have grown to love and respect this fine claro walnut, as I strive to reveal the full beauty of the wood and grain patterns in my work. But as this and other fine hardwoods become rarer and more expensive, I hate to see such a large proportion of my wood end up as useless chips and sawdust. Laser technology should soon enough provide paper-thin cuts, but that day is not yet here. So for more than two years I have been searching for a high-quality, thin saw blade. And I believe I have found it.

Miki, Japan

A trip to Japan has long been on my wish-list, to study Japanese architecture first hand and hopefully meet some of the renowned Japanese craftsmen. This Spring I finally fulfilled that dream. In my week in Tokyo, I asked where the best tools were made. Invariably, the answer was Miki, a small town near Osaka.

Some Shop Tips

There are times in woodworking when you want to shut off your table or miter saw quickly, without letting go of your work, or without taking your eyes off the blade. Here is an interesting thing you can do to help achieve this goal:

Add a kick board to the power box of your saw. Then you should suspend the board on the hinge from a block of wood clamped around the power conduit, but the innovative woodworker can adapt this system to any saw. A hole in the board allows access to the On button, and the board rests on the Off button.

To turn off the saw, the operator need only kick out with his knee, and the board punches the protruding Off button. A metal guide near the bottom keeps the board in place, and the Off button provides enough sprint action to hold the board in proper position for easy kicking.

Staining Wood – Part #3

Before you continue reading, please make sure to read part 2 of this guide.

Application Techniques

Techniques recommended on stain container labels vary from one product to another. There are, however, only two essential steps in staining all wood: applying the stain and wiping off the residue. Although there are many different ways with a verity of equipment to apply stain, most craftsmen stain their projects by hand. Brushes and rags are good tools for hand applications. It is also handy to have a rag ready for wiping off stain quickly. Since certain parts of the wood may be naturally darker than others, you can create a more uniform appearance by wiping the stain from these areas soon after it is applied.

For best results in controlling the depth and intensity of color, use a cloth to apply the stain. With a cloth you can wipe the stain on carefully, instead of flooding the wood surface with stain as you would when using a brush. Wiping down the surface then removes exces surface residue which has not been absorbed into the wood, so that the true beauty of the grain can show.

Staining Wood – Part #2

This is part 2 of the article; part 1 can be found here.

Sanding Wood

Sanding should always be done with the grain of the wood, using as heavy a grit paper as possible without leaving scratches. Staining usually accentuates any scrape marks or other imperfections in the wood surface. So keep in mind that scratches or imperfections you can just faintly see on bare wood may show up sharply after you stain. With softer woods, such as pine, always start with a 100 grit garnet paper and finish with a 180 grit. With the harder woods, start with a 180 grit and then go to a 220 grit for final sanding before staining.

When using a natural finish, complete sanding with a 280 grit. By using the proper grit of garnet paper, the stain will be able to freely penetrate the wood and prevent the “blotchy” look which sometimes happens when wood is polished by using too fine a grit. Hand sanding has preference over vibrating or belt sanders; however, if your project needs extensive sanding, then use one of these sanders. Never use a disk sander and always finish sanding by hand. When sanding flat surfaces, use a sanding block and always sand with the grain.

Staining Wood – Part #1

Staining can be either a very satisfying part of a finishing project, or it can be an annoying and frustrating problem. The difference lies in the kind of stain, type of wood, preparation of the wood, and the techniques used to apply the stain. This article should give you a better understanding of the different aspects of wood staining so that your next staining job will be both easier and more rewarding.

Why Stain Wood?

Staining often is chosen when finishing lighter woods such as pine, maple, birch, and oak because we want to make it match or resemble other types of wood, in order to color-coordinate with other furniture, or just to emphasize the grain and add additional beauty. These lighter woods need stain to give them color and character and to highlight the grain, while darker woods, such as mahogany, cherry and walnut, often look best without stain.

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