Archive for the ‘Woodworking’ Category

Mission Endtable

Wednesday, December 5th, 2018

An old friend of mine got married a while ago, to a woman of discerning taste and an enthusiasm for Arts and Crafts style. There was nothing for it but for Jeff  (another friend of mine), and I to make the two of them an endtable as a wedding gift. I did the construction, and Jeff did the finishing. This worked out to advantage, since he’s better at finishing and detail work than I. Because he, and not I, applied the final polish, you can see the wall reflected from the tabletop in the wall below.

(Sorry about the poor picture; we were kind of in a hurry to get to the wedding.)

Amusingly, the wedding was at the Roycroft Inn, set in the old hub of the Roycroft Arts and Crafts community, and the happy couple overnighted there, opening their gifts that night. Evidently there was some apprehension that they would have trouble carrying the table out the next day, given its resemblance to the rest of the Roycroft’s oeuvre. Incidentally, the Roycroft is quite nice and redolent of craftsmanship.

Anyhow, the table is plainsawn red oak, not quartersawn white, and it’s stained rather than ammonia fumed, but none of that matters. This is one of my favorite projects, since I knew that the couple would like it, and it turned out really nicely thanks to the finish applied by Jeff.

I’d like to try ammonia fuming, but evidently it’s not easy to find high-test ammonia these days, and the weaksauce household stuff is not at all potent enough.

Small Toybox

Wednesday, November 28th, 2018

One of my coworkers and his wife recently had their first child. I like the guy, and am quite happy for them; however, since I’m an emotionally inarticulate engineer (sort of), I communicated my happiness by making their daughter a toybox.

As is usual with a largely unplanned project, the result was more complicated than I had intended, to hide mistakes made in the process. That nice band of walnut hides some issues with the dado holding the bottom of the box in. The vertical reinforcements at the corner hide unaesthetic box joints. I should really bite the bullet and buy a metal box joint jig. Every time I cut them I butcher a lot of wood, and spend about three times longer than I expect.

The biggest issue I had was that I originally cut the lid with pronounced bevel cuts along the top edge. Unfortunately, this, combined with the other dimensions of the toybox, made the thing look exactly like a child’s coffin, which did not exactly reflect what I was trying to do here, to say the least. Fortunately, the scraps from a previous project let me replace the unusable lid without a run to the store.

(For sale, child’s coffin lid. Never used, per Hemingway).

Small pine toybox

It’s occasionally fun to work with clear pine. It works so quickly; it would be “easy mode” if it weren’t that it also dents so easily. This gives character to kids’ furniture, but I wouldn’t want to make a formal endtable out of the stuff. Any sort of stain for it is a potential blotching disaster, too.

Pizza Wheel

Monday, January 14th, 2013

I made the handle for this pizza wheel, the metal of which is a Rockler kit. This was a Christmas gift for some friends of mine, a married couple, whose devotion to cooking in general and pizza in particular demanded something better than a cheap stamped pizza wheel.


This kit is very high quality; I nearly cut myself several times on the blade, which sharp-eyed viewers will note that my camera cannot resolve the edge of, and the thing has an almost menacing heft in the hand.

Yes, more paduak.

Yes, more paduak.

The handle is a maple and paduak sandwich, chosen for their colors’ echo of the cheese and sauce of the presumptive target, and is made with a right-hand bias, since my friends are both righties. I left the bottom edge of the handle pointy so that the knuckles of the hand point at the target of the cut.


Pam’s box

Monday, January 14th, 2013

Yes, another box.


Paduak and wenge, neither of which I’m certain how to pronounce. Wenge is very hard indeed and needs to be wiped with solvent before it will take glue.

The brass isn't really worthy of the wood.

The brass isn’t really worthy of the wood.

Made for a family friend.

Nadia’s box

Monday, June 11th, 2012

Among the various projects I’ve been working on over the last year or so, one of the two that turned out really well was a little box that I made as a gift for the daughter of some friends. I had the general idea for it when visiting them, and figured that they therefore provided a good excuse to make it.

As noted previously, I find boxes and containers fascinating. While I do not yet have the ability to make really intricate puzzle boxes or the like, I do have access to a Rockler, and hence showy wood. If everyone looks at the grain pattern, my reasoning goes, they won’t be looking at the mistakes. Also, exotic wood is interesting to work with; the incomparable moment when you seal it and it “pops” is satisfying.

Anyhow, this is made from paduak:

Unlike some other woods that I have worked with, notably some rough-cut lacewood veneer, paduak is a joy to work with; it behaves like oak, while looking like sunlight in a redhead’s tresses (or something like that). It isn’t much of a puzzle how to open the box, but it isn’t immediately obvious, either:

The brass rod is threaded into one of the blocks of maple on the side. When it is pulled out, the top can be pulled forward with the finger tab on top. There’s enough friction in the works to keep the rod seated in normal circumstances.

I’m glad it turned out well, and glad that it was well-received by the recipient. Making it was useful therapy of an evening after work and classes.