Thursday, February 9, 2012

Raffan Box

Hi Everyone,

For a long time now I've wanted to make a Raffan box, a type of box that was originally designed by Richard Raffan, a wood turner who helped transform wood turning from an industrial activity into an artistic one.  Everyone who turns wood for art or craft owes Richard Raffan a huge thanks for all his work over the years.

Anyway I decided to try to make a Raffan-type box this evening out of a single block of white pine.  Here are my first several photos of the block being mounted on the lathe and then turned into a cylinder:

I love to turn pine. My shop smells wonderful and I've always loved the bold grain patterns in pine wood. It also reminds me of when I was little--there always seemed to be a lot of pine lumber around the house and I remember the wonderful scent.

Next, I turned a tenon on the bottom of the cylinder and re-mounted the cylinder in the wood chuck:

As the cylinder will both be shaped by me and act as an attachment point for the box sections as I'm turning it, the cylinder has to be mounted very securely and it has to run true, which it does.

The first part of the box to be shaped is the lid and we begin by hollowing it out. After that is finished the outside of the box is shaped and finished. So we have the lid and the knob on the top shaped and done by the 4th photo below and when it's done, I'll part this off from the bottom:

Now comes the hard part. We have to turn a small lip for the top to fit onto.  The lid has to fit very tightly so we can finish turning the knob on the top so we have to proceed very carefully and turn this bit and bit. Actually it took about 30 minutes to turn and when I was done it fit very tightly:

It's getting cold down here.  I'm beginning to feel like a popsicle.

Next I placed the lid back on the box and finished the knob and put a an oil and beeswax finish on it:

Now it's time to work on the bottom. Since the top is on I decided to leave it there while I shaped the bottom so the two pieces would match up:

Then I removed the top and hollowed out the bottom and finished sanding and I put the finish :

The photograph makes the box look longer than it is. 


While this isn't as elegant as a real Raffan box, it's not bad for a first time effort and the box has a friction fit-it pops when I take off the lid and that's rather cool. And the inside of it smells like a pine forest. The next time I think I'll drill out the bottom with a Forstner bit so I can make it wider and deeper.  But I'm rather happy with the finished product. 

Next project:

I have several bowls to make out of some hickory and red elm that I've been saving and then I'm going to turn a wooden bowl inside out. Since you've seen me turn a zillion bowls by now, I won't post any process photos for the bowls but I will post pictures of the finished product. I think our next project together will be interesting and I'm looking forward to doing this.

Thanks for dropping by and I'll see you in a week or so for our next adventure in the wood shop.

Have a great weekend and stay warm,


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