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Fruitwood Keepsake Boxes
Another pair of wood boxes, this time of fruitwood. I noticed that a large limb had fallen from a dead tree on commercial property and was left on the pavement near the property line. I carry a battery powered chain saw in the Expedition, so I stopped and cut three sections out of the thicker part of the limb. I cut half-inch thick boards from it and used some of it to make these boxes. The lids and feet feature the natural outside of the wood -what is called a "live edge." The bottoms are of 3/16 inch plywood.
Walnut Keepsake Boxes
Also in the works lately were these two solid walnut dresser-top keepsake boxes of similar style, but different dimensions, They employ different hinges and different lid-lift approaches. The larger box (top row) has interior dimensions of 9-7/8 x 5 x 2 inches. The smaller (bottom row) has interior dimensions of 7-3/8 x 5-3/8 x 1-1/2.inches. The bottoms are of 3/16" plywood. They were sanded to 220 grit and finished with English furniture wax.
Chopping Block and Lazy Susan
I haven't done any strictly-wood projects in some time. After repeated encouragement from my lovely wife, I ran some boards from assorted hardwoods and am again in process of creating boxes and kitchen items. Just completed (June, 2019) are the two items below.
Cedar-trunk-rounds used for occasional tables at our cabin
When we bought the cabin by Canyon Lake (pictured on my home page) we wanted a driveway to park next to the cabin. To put in the drive we had to take out a medium-sized cedar tree. So rather than let the condemned tree go to waste, I cut three rings out of it and had the remaining 5 foot trunk cut into 2" planks. I have finished the three rings with "live edges" and made legs from natural tree limbs.. [I am working on a sofa table made from two book-matched planks from the tree trunk.] Stay tuned - more to come.
Four Cutting Boards of laminated walnut & mesquite with oak frame
I made four cutting boards for Christmas 2017 presents. I followed the same design and used the same materials for all four. The hardwood surface is 3/8 inch strips of walnut and mesquite, glued to a 1/2" piece of oak veneer plywood. The frame is of 3/4" oak. I show pictures of only two of the four as examples. The first two pictures are of one board; the next two are of a second board. The third row shows two surfaces from a different angle. The cutting surface was coated with mineral oil while the frame and underside were finished with paste wax. (All photos were taken at the same time, with the same camera and same lighting. The different angle produced a different tone - the true tone is somewhere between the two)
Hill Country Cedar Stump Table Lamp Base
In early April, 2017 we visited our eldest son and his wife at their retirement home in the Texas Hill country. We stayed as their guest at a military RV campground. While wandering the hills I came across some cedar stumps that had been left behind by thinning activity. I cut one off at the ground because I thought that the shapes of the trunks were unique and interesting. Using the experience I had gained from making the oak stump lamps, I applied the same technique and came up with an interesting table lamp.
Burned Oak Stump Lamp Bases
In spring, 2016 I cut some mesquite and oak in Jacks County just west of Denton County. The mesquite was cut fresh from standing trees; the oak was cut from a grove of dead trees killed in a wild fire a few years earlier. I recovered several sections of log from felled trees, but my attention was caught by two stumps that had been broken well before the devastating fire and were burned out in the center. I cut a few feet down from the top and brought them home with only a vague idea what to do with them. After some months of thought I decided to make lamp bodies of them. I ground out the charred centers and fashioned bases from salvaged brake rotors from the local metal salvage yard. A length of 1" copper pipe from Lowe's, some copper fittings and lamp sockets and I was able to put together a floor lamp and a table lamp of similar style.
Mesquite Log Table Lamp
I don't generally make lighting fixtures, but this naturally weathered broken log end just cried out for use in some fashion. A lamp base seemed to be the most appropriate use for it. It was already hollow, so I only needed to sand and polish the outside (leaving some areas in their naturally weathered condition) and make a base to stand it on. The center post is a length of half-inch copper water pipe. I purchased a socket, lamp cord and LED bulb at Home Depot and cobbled it all together with a shade from Walmart.
This is a 6-3/8" diameter mesquite wood bowl I just turned. I considered some further decorative feature such as an inlay around the rim, but this piece has so much interest in the wood grain and colors I decided that anything further would detract from it.
Here is a 30" natural log coat rack for mounting on the wall. The back is flat so that it will fasten firmly to the wall. Suzanne & I were driving in Denton and this caught my attention because one trunk of a tripartite tree had broken off. One side looked interesting because the bark had been peeled off by horses a long time ago and the tree had continued to grow. So I stopped and cut off about four feet and threw it in the back of the Ford.
This is a walnut hand-grip that I carved for a World War II machete that my dad brought home. He told me that it had been made by a guy in his company. The original wood handle was very plain and smooth - so much so that my dad got a bad cut in the web between his thumb and forefinger using it. When I inherited it, I made a safer handle, then carved an Old English "B" monogram in the wood. The monogram is infilled with epoxy mixed with light-colored sanding-dust, then sanded flush.
I had two antique carving sets that I decided to pass down to the next generation this Christmas. So I made cases for them from a 1x8x10 solid Texas walnut board I had purchased earlier this year. I routered out the cavities in the bottoms and the lids so that the cases would be solid walnut with no glue joints. They are lined with adhesive felt with a closed-cell foam cushion in the lid to hold the pieces in place. You will notice that the grain pattern in the two lids matches: the left end of the top case matches the right end of the bottom case, since they were cut from the same board.
I got a lathe a year ago and have been working up from simple spindles to bowl turning. I managed to turn out several decent looking bowls that I gave to my kids for Christmas. Below is a representative sample of my initial efforts.
Round box & lid with reproduction radiator cap ornament
Native Texas Oak and Walnut Serving Tray/Stand
We recently visited the Texas Hill Country to see our eldest son, Karl, and daughter-in-law, Connie's new home near Canyon Lake. We stayed at a military campground where Karl is a part-time host. The campground is covered with live oak trees and firewood is abundant from felled trees. Two logs caught my eye as promising for interesting grain patterns and color. This tray/stand is made of two slices from a single log - book matched faces - that I edge glued on a diagonal, then trimmed with Texas walnut that I purchased through an ad on Craig's List. The feet are the same beveled piece as the handles. Cracks in the oak are filled with epoxy and ground agate. It is somewhat heavy for a serving tray. I have given it to Karl's older Sister, Kristin, since she has a big, burly husband who is a chef and can manage the weight of the tray.
Obelisk of Spalted Pecan
I made this from a scrap of pecan log that I had cut some blocks and boards from. The spalting pattern was just too intricate and interesting to throw out. There was not quite enough material to complete the base without including an area of weathered surface wood, but that just makes it more interesting. It is a bit more tapered than the traditional obelisk proportions, but that is what the wood I had required. The black outlining is particularly attractive. I used three wood dowels to keep the top in place, but have not glued it in down. After sanding down to 220 grit I coated it with mahogany-tinted English furniture wax to give it warmth (except where it is weathered).
This cut-off from a mesquite log seemed to demand use. I had a clock inset on hand that was of suitable size, so I inset it into one end with an angled cut. Note the ring colors - this is typical of local mesquite: reddish inner rings with yellow new growth. The red portion finishes much like mahogany. The bark on this piece is solidly attached, but some sort of borer is still at work inside, slowly piling saw-dust outside as it works.
Commemorative anniversary ring set
Below are photos of a pair of rings created according to my daughter, Kristin's, request. I was plowing new ground here - I have mixed metal with wood, but not wood with metal. The silver soldering was pretty straight forward, but insetting the purple heart veneer and sealing it was tricky. Some on-line research uncovered techniques that I was not familiar with, but that proved successful. Amazingly, they both were completed without having to throw anything away and start over. (Please read the captions)
Mesquite Block Planter Bases
My mom had some pottery vases in the Craftsman style, made in the 1920-30's, which I put on the sink-top in the hall bathroom. I found that they needed some help and company. I like working with mesquite wood, so I cut and shaped two block - one to raise the back-corner square vase higher and the other to echo the cube shape of the green planter and hold a cylindrical vase. I purposely retained a touch of the lighter, outer grain of the log as a highlight.
This is a project that (for once) turned out even better than I had envisioned. The concept began as a simple cutting board to use in our own kitchen. I planned to make it out of mesquite, a dense, hard and beautifully red native Texas wood. I cut one piece and found that it had a hollow center, thus giving the two halves hollow channels running the length of the boards. Suzanne suggested that I should fill the hollows with granules of rock -: agate or turquoise - mixed into clear ep[oxy. So I decided to use these as the sides to function as handles. By the time I had the main pieces cut, selected and assembled the overall appearance was much more interesting than would be appropriate for a mere cutting board..
After gluing up the main elements, I decided that the look would be enhanced by short legs. All the natural voids were filled with epoxy and the long channels in the "handles" filled with crushed turquois and agate pieces mixed into epoxy. It was then sanded smooth and finished with several coats of hand-rubbed clear furniture wax. It was too nice to use in our kitchen, so it became a Christmas present for our daughter-in-law.
Boxes, Little Boxes . . .
Below is a keepsake box made of solid oak with a solid mesquite lid and solid walnut handle. The round interior was drilled with a hole saw in my drill press and the bottom lined with leather. When closed, the top is held in alignment by rare earth magnets.
In the recent display of woodwork at the Denton Senior Center I saw some jewelry boxes that had been made from "live edge" limbs. "Live edge" is a term used for milled wood that still has the bark on the edges. In that case. the entire log was used with the bark still on, except for a flat cut for the bottom. The ones on display had been created by cutting four sides, top and bottom off the log, removing the center block and then gluing the sides and bottom back together and hinging a lid. Thus inspired, I decided to try my hand at such a project. Only I did not want to cut and re-glue the box.
I made mine out of mesquite limbs because mesquite is very hard and has a beautiful contrast between the red center grain and the yellow outer grain just beneath the bark. I made two horizontal cuts - the bottom and the lid. I discarded the bottom and put small brass legs under it to match the hinges. To create the hollow, I drilled out most of the center with a spade bit in my drill press, then used a 3 inch long straight router bit to smooth the sides and bottom.. The bottom is lined with leather. I had to custom bend brass hinges to fit the contour of the box, I made knobs out of acorns from the tree in our back yard and also purchased small brass knobs so that the future user would have a choice of handle. The finished surfaces are coated with hand-rubbed furniture wax. [Both boxes have now sold at craft fairs]
Turning trees into art (as if trees weren't already art)
Where do I get the wood for my projects, you may be asking yourself. Initially I purchased it from others: either at a local woodworking store (like Rockler) or on-line on Ebay. But now I have a band saw and a 10" table saw as well as access to even larger band saws and table saws at the Denton Senior Center woodshop. Below are three logs that I literally salvaged from the curb where they were destined to be picked up by the city for chipping and recycling into mulch. The Senior Center also has a drum sander that takes the saw marks out of the boards and processes multiple boards into consistent thickness.
Below is a section of an oak log, about 7" in diameter, that I turned into three separate objects. I started by using my portable planer to flatten four sides so the log could be run through a saw. Then I made cuts on opposing sides with my 10" table saw to cut it in half.
I took one half and cut curves with my band saw to roughly match the shape of a Chrysler hood ornament that I wished to mount. The curves were then refined with a belt sander to make the contour fit the ornament. The block is then sanded, drilled and finished with tinted wax. The ornament is bolted in place and the bottom covered with adhesive felt.
Mesquite wood weather pyramid upgrade
Hardwood Business Card Holders
Oak cutting board
Antique solid hard-wood chest from the South Pacific
Solid walnut box & lid with inset of sliced septarian nodule
Small box of solid bubinga (African Rosewood) with polished chalcedony lid
Solid mesquite pyramid base for weather instruments w/ oak trim
White oak base for ship ornament and weather instruments w/ fossil inlay
Jewelry box of white oak with walnut highlights and jasper inset in lid
Jewelry box of crotch-walnut veneer, solid walnut trim and oak inlay
Jewelry box of solid white ash and cherry wood w/ agate knob & feet
Shop stool & grinder stand of juniper trunk and brake discs, plus used barrel staves and a pitch-fork.
Lap work-tray of oak plywood and solid oak trim
Footstool of solid white oak, made to match antique Morris chair and Craftsman-style end tables of ammonia-fumed white oak with granite tops
Hi-Fi component cabinets of solid walnut for 1960's-era units
Wheeled laptop bed desk
Prior to my retirement I was assigned to review claim files from home. I quickly found that I could not sit at a desk 8-10 hours per day as required. Initially thinking that I would have to decline the assignment, I lay back on the bed in the guest bedroom and contemplated the situation. Within a half hour, building on the concept of a hospital bed-tray, I envisioned a wheeled bed-table that would hold my laptop and monitor. By noon I had a usable piece of furniture. With some refinements to hold the laptop at a suitable angle I had a very serviceable unit which I continue to use in retirement. My neck & back still do not tolerate an upright position for long, so it serves me very well. Without the pressing need to review files all day I might not have thought of it - necessity is the mother of invention.