Saturday, August 31, 2013

Bed frame out of construction brackets and lumber

Hi Everyone,

I am sooooooo tired. I spent a long, hot day cutting and assembling a full-sized bed frame out of construction lumber and construction brackets.

I must say the concept is good but needs a lot of refinement. Here are the two photos I have the strength to upload:

Here's all the stuff:

...and here is the bed:

For the most part the bed went together quite well. The construction brackets make this thing very strong and very sturdy. I think you could park a car on top of it.

I'm going to make another one and next time I'll use better quality lumber and take more time to make it. Then I'll post the procedure and photos.

Its been super hot here today and I'm a little dehydrated so I'm going to go get something to drink and relax.

The gift boxes came out well. They need one more coat of varnish and then they'll be ready.

I'll do a Labor Day posting tomorrow.

Take care,


Friday, August 30, 2013

Small Gift boxes continued-Varnishing

Hi Everyone,

Well, it's been a long hot week here and we're on the close of this project. I've taken the boxes inside and I'm applying a quick drying polyurethane to them.

Here's a photograph:

I gave all the boxes a light stain and I'm glad I did. I think the colors are more vibrant than they were. Also the much scorned cedar of Lebanon and the hackberry boxes look much better and rather than hiding the grain patterns, it enhanced them.

I'm going to let these dry and then apply a second coat and then let them dry for 24 hours or until the surface is hardened and cured. Then I'll buff them on the lathe and they'll be done at that point.

So one more posting for this.


Thursday, August 29, 2013

Small Gift Boxes, continued-Stained Boxes

Hi Everyone,

Well, I took all the remaining boxes down to the wood shop and lightly stained them all. And they came out looking a little more colorful than they were before. Here's a photo:

The hackberry box really benefited from this as the spalted areas show up very strongly now. All in all, a good idea. I'm going to let these all dry completely and later tonight I'll give them a coat of polyurethane. I plan on apply two coats and then polishing them and sending them on. I'll post finish photographs probably on Saturday.


It's been blazing hot here this week and I'm really tired. I'm going to defer working on the bed frame until this weekend.

See you all Saturday,


Small Gift Boxes continued-Finishing-The Cedar of Lebanon & Pine wood box

Good Morning Everyone,

I've given all the boxes one last look and I'm happy with the shapes so the turning part of this project is concluded. Time to work on finishing them up. Since the cedar of Lebanon box is going to be stained, we'll do this one first.

All of the boxes require finish sanding and since these woods (with the exception of the ash wood lid from yesterday) are soft woods, sanding them won't take a great deal of time. I began sanding the cedar box with 120 grit sandpaper and ended with 600 grit. This extra fine sanding paper is really something I find that is really needed with softer woods as they tend to develop a very fine fuzz on the surface that can obscure the grain patterns in the wood. 600 grit paper will shave that away. If you have some 0000 steel wool, that will work as well and works very well with harder woods. Just be sure you don't press too hard while the wood is spinning or you will begin to cut into the wood.

Here is the cedar box after sanding:

Now yesterday I mentioned that I had decided to stain the box and I'm going to do this now. The first step for this is to seal the wood. Soft woods really need this step and I've done it for harder woods as well. Just using a stain on unsealed wood can result in a very blotchy or overly dark result as the density of wood fibers can vary quite a bit, especially in pine. Taking this step reduces that. I'm using Minwax products today as I've used them before and their results are quite predictable (this isn't an endorsement).

 So I placed the box back on the lathe and turned the speed down. I used gloves, a small foam brush to get inside of the box with, and laid a paper towel over the lathe bed. No point in mucking up my lathe!

Here are both the box and the lid after the application of the sealer:

I let the sealer soak in for about 30 minutes and then came back to take a look and to do the next step. The color of the box is really quite nice at this point and so is the lid. So I'm going to give both pieces a thin coat of Minwax stain in natural to keep the color of both intact:

These are both pieces after staining and waiting about 5 minutes and then wiping the surface off. I like the colors. I think this is a much more interesting color combination that just leaving it natural:

I'm going to leave this until later this afternoon and we'll come back and see what it looks like then. When the stain is dry I'm going to use Minwax polyurethane on it to finish it.

A note about the stain color: golds in the form of varnishes, oils, and stains, can really enhance the color  and grain of wood. The change in the depth of the wood and the overall appearance of the piece can at times be breathtaking. The color of the stain I used today is a natural finish which is just about the color of honey. I probably will use this on the hackberry box and all of the other pieces later today.


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Small Gift Boxes-The Camphor Box

Whew, ok, I'm back.

I've completely re-done the camphor box, which should come as no surprise as I've re-done the other two boxes.

Let's take a look at the photographs:

Reshaping the Bottom

Here is the box to begin with. The sides are a little convex and there isn't any other detail other than the grain and color of the wood. I decided to straighten out the sides and make this box more square in shape:

So back on the lathe it goes:

Here is the box several minutes later. I've straightened out the sides and left wood on the bottom and the rim for beads:

And here is the box. There is a single bead on the bottom and a double bead area around the rim. I'm satisfied  with this design so the turning for this is complete:

The Lid

This lid is going to be shaped totally differently from the other lids. It has to be more square in shape to carry this design element through the entire piece. I created a turning blank from a piece of scrape white ash wood that I've had and used for several other projects. It has a wild grain pattern and being ash, it will finish really well.

Here is the blank on the Nova chuck:

Here is the blank spinning on the lathe. I'm creating a tenon on the surface so I can re-attach it to the lathe and work on the underside:

 Here is the top for the moment:

I've flipped the lid over and I'm going to create the underside:

Here is the tenon that fits into the inside of the box:

Here is the lid thus far. There is enough wood to accomplish the finish turning:

Turning the Lid to Shape

The first thing to do is to cut the lid blank down to the same diameter as the box rim and to do that I'm going to turn the lid and the box together as a single unit and you can see them both mounted on the lathe between centers:

The bottom edge of the lid is now approximately the same diameter. Next the upper rim of the lid was shaped. I created a small bead along the edge which you'll see in the next photograph:

 Now for the top of the lid. I wanted to create a sharp pyramid-shaped finial first and then create a secondary ring around it. You can see in the picture the beginnings of this part of the turn:

 Here are those two elements on the surface of the lid:

In looking at the lid I think the design would be helped by adding a third, outer ring but to do that I will have to cut away the surface of the lid and this in turn will remove the bead. Should I do this or not:

 I did:

And here is the lid without the bead and with three rings on the surface:

I'm rather happy with this. You can see how the rings distort the grain pattern a bit. I like that too:

 And here is the box with the lid on top:

Ok, here is where we stand at the moment:

All of these boxes have to be finely sanded in preparation for finishing. The box on the Cedar of Lebanon box has to be sanded, sealed and stained so there is still work to be done on the boxes.

Stay tuned and I'll walk us through the finishing process and you can see how they come out.

Tomorrow I'm going to make a bed frame out of wood using construction brackets so stay tuned, grab a cup of coffee, and drop by the wood shop. There's always something going on around here!

See you soon,


Small Gift Boxes, continued-The Cedar of Lebanon box-Is it a Box or a Wood Muffin? The Pitfalls of Turned Shapes

Hi Everyone,

Well, I spent the evening yesterday looking at the cedar of Lebanon box and I heard from several friends about it and the consensus of opinion and mine as well is that it really did look like a muffin. The top is too large for the bottom and it completely overpowers the whole thing.

While turning a piece of wood on a lathe holds all kinds of possibilities for unusual shapes, you do have to be careful of the shapes that you wind up with. Pieces that may look great to you and took hours to turn may wind up looking like giant mushrooms, Coca Cola bottles, doorknobs, and yes muffins. Holding to a shape like that is never a good idea. A person looking at a piece like that will zero in on the shape and totally ignore the rest of the work or even hold it up for ridicule. So if you're not sure of the shape of a piece of wood, do it slowly, carefully, and don't be afraid to take your time with it. Sometimes you have to be brave- if setting it aside and making something else in it's place is the answer, then do it.

So I took the whole thing back down to the wood shop and very carefully turned it. It's narrower and I've removed wood from the top of the lid.

Here is the box from yesterday:

And here it is at present:

It's not quite as large as it was. It's not perfect but it's better.

Coloring the box

I don't think I've ever stained a turned piece of wood. Working in wood is rather like pot luck-you get what you get and it's up to you as the turner to work with that and make it into something great and staining it can shortcut that process. But this  piece is going to have a great deal of significance for the giver and the receiver so it has to be the best it can be.

I am thinking of staining the bottom box portion because:

1. The color is rather drab. If it were a more-orange color like Douglas fir, I would leave it alone.

2. I think staining is may tone down some of the grain pattern.

3. I will be staining the bottom and possibly the top as well. It would darken the pine but it would make the top and the bottom appear more integrated with one another.

I'm going to think about this a little more before I do it so I'm going back down to the wood shop and we'll look at the camphor wood box.


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Small Gift Boxes, continued-The Cedar of Lebanon box

Ok, I'm back.

Time to turn my attention to the cedar of Lebanon box and I must say I'm not please with this one at all. I don't like the color, I don't like the shape, it's not hollowed out enough, and the scent is a little too overpowering for me. This box is like a bad hair cut-the only thing you can do is re-cut it and hope for the best and that's what we're going to do.

Here we go:

Here's the box to begin with. Not very interesting visually:

I put it back on the lathe. I'm going to reduce the outside slope of the box and create a rim on it. To do this securely, I've placed it between centers:

I've marked off a section of the outside for the rim and begun turning away wood from that:

I'm going to cut from side to side to remove wood an reduce the slope :

And I worked in the manner for several minutes. I narrowed the rim and then split it into two beads and cut them down so they would not protrude from the surface too much:

In this photo I'm about to hollow out the inside more:

And here it is several minutes later. The box is now deeper and wider inside and so it will be a little more useable:

And here is the box several minutes later. I've roughly sanded it. It think it looks much better. I'm beginning to get an idea about the color:

Next, the lid portion

I was looking at Richard Raffan's website again and I decided to try to make an onion-dome shaped lid for the box. Looking around the shop, the only wood I had that was close to being thick enough is a piece of pine. It will turn very easily but is it thick enough for the shape I want?:

I made a turning blank. We'll see how this works out:

I did my usual procedure of creating the underside of the lid to fit into the box:

And I placed it on the box to see how it looks. Not bad:

I put it back on the lathe and I began to turn. It was readily obvious that I would not have enough wood for a full onion shape so I would have to modify the shape of the lid:

Here I'm beginning to shape the top of the lid:

I took the lid off the lathe and took a look at it. Without a definite shape to aim for, it's difficult to understand just what it should look like instead. This is going to be one of those "I'll know it when I see it shapes." In this photo, it's clear that the shape isn't exactly there yet. It looks like a giant mushroom sitting on the top of the box. I want to keep the plumpiness of the shape but refine it more. Back on the lathe it goes:



I kept turning and removed a small amount of wood from the center of the lid and created a finial and added a little shaping to the area around the finial. I've also given it somewhat ogee shape to the surface. It's beginning to look like something:

I'm going to stop turning this for the moment and spend a day looking at it:

My youngest son just walked in and said it looks like a muffin....sigh...

Ok, I'm going to leave it and possibly shape it more. I may also stain the top and the bottom of the box to match. I think that would improve matters quite a bit. More about that tomorrow.

The last box is the camphor box and that needs some major work as well. I'll try and do another posting later today.