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Walnut. 2 and 3/4 inches in diameter. 3 and 3/8 inches tall. The grain matches from container to lid. This is the first container turned on the treadle lathe, and my first turned container in about 30 years. Coins in the photo are for size reference, a 2 Euro (Italian/Dante) and a US Quarter (Indiana/Indy 500 – we used to live 1/2 mile from there.) The pig is an Austrian good luck charm. Turning and carving details follow these photos.
Having watched half a gazillion YouTube videos about container turning techniques, I did this one a bit differently than what I saw in any of the videos. Being of Scottish heritage and a bit “thrifty,” I haven’t yet bought one of the 4-jaw chucks we so often see used for this type of work.
Instead, I sandwiched the walnut blank between two pine waste blocks (saves wasting 50 cents worth of walnut) and mounted the sandwich on a simple $10 faceplate. I trued the blank with a live center taking up the tail. After truing the blank into a cylinder, I trued a perpendicular face on the tail end of the blank, i.e on the end of the waste block there. That prepared a surface for mounting yet another simple $10 faceplate for working the lid.
The rest of the turning followed fairly standard procedure.
- Turn a rough profile for the entire container.
- Refine the lid profile to nearly final shape.
- Part off the lid piece.
- Mount a faceplate on the lid piece.
- Remove the body from the lathe and mount the lid piece.
- This leaves the inside of the lid accessible. Hollow the inside to desired depth. Refine, sand and finish the inside.
- Remove the lid from the lathe and mount the body.
- Turn a tenon on the body that accepts the lid as a very snug press fit.
- Remove the lid’s waste block and faceplate. (The waste block was glued in place with a paper separator layer, hence easily cut off.)
- Press the lid onto the body’s tenon.
- Complete the shaping and finishing of the lid. For this particular turning, I left a raised ring of wood on the lid that later becomes the “C-bars” in the carving.
- Refine the outside shape of the body.
- Hollow the body.
- Sand and finish the inside. (Did I say “sand?” Hate sanding anything!)
- Cut the body from the waste block.
- While still mounted, turn the waste block to form a plug / jam chuck for the body.
- Press fit the body onto the plug and turn a very slight concave bottom surface. Sand and finish the body.
- Remove all from the lathe.
- Remount the waste block used for the lid and turn it to form a plug / jam chuck that fits inside the lid. This is not used for any more turning, but as a mount for holding the lid while carving.
All that remains is a simple matter of carving. The design is a single letter monogram set between two classic “C-bars.” The carving is different from most in that it is carved in end grain. While that eliminates the usual grain sensitivity of carving, it presents another difficulty. Carving in end grain is like pressing a knife into the end of a bundle of soda straws. Extra sharp tools are the order of the day, along with a healthy helping of patience. Also helpful are a white wax marker and a fine spoon shaped chisel.
I’m not sure what the recipient will keep in such a container. It has enough room for about 211 calories worth of Gummy Bears, or maybe a few spare gold coins. We’ll see.
Browse through the sites selling handmade goods, and you’ll find a tremendous number of wooden boxes It looks like recent trends are for boxes made of contrasting woods, or combinations of various exotic woods. Decoration is mostly in the color contrasts, and sometimes with the addition of things like splines on joints, and occasionally some inlay. There are many well made and beautiful examples to be found. (Hint: Etsy > Keepsake Box)
The decorations rarely seen on these boxes are carvings. Here and there some might be found, but not many. Which is why … I’m using hand made wooden boxes as a platform for classic woodcarvings. You might have seen this coming in recent months.
Here are two new boxes. Both are made of Cherry. This Cherry is S2S material 15/16″ thick, which I resaw by hand. The sides and end walls are 3/8″ thick, the result of resawing the stock in even halves. The top and bottom material is finished at 1/2″ thick for the top and 1/8″ thick for the bottom, the result of resawing off center. This gives one the opportunity of using “book matched” pieces to display the grain wrapping around the box, and to have a top with a grain pattern that matches the bottom. Note, I said “opportunity”, and that depends on keeping careful track of such things.
First is a small box featuring a classic flower rosette on the lid, the lid shown as work in progress in the previous post. This style of flower is very common in architectural and furniture decoration and dates back many centuries. The box’s construction is a single-tail dovetail at each corner. The bottom is trapped in stopped grooves. The lid is a snap fit, nestled between the long sides, standing proud about 1/8 inch.
The second box is another centuries old design, a Tudor rose. This particular variant has 4 petals instead of the usual 5, as a better fit for an oval. As with the first box. the design is incised. The box is larger, having more tails in each join. It too has a trapped bottom piece. This box measures 5 1/2 inches wide by 9 1/4 inches long by 3 3/4 inches high. Interior dimensions are 4 5/8 inches by 8 1/8 inches (long enough for new pencils) by 3 1/4 inches. The lift-of lid covers all 4 walls of the box and overhangs slightly on the ends for easy removal.
Both are currently available in my Etsy store.