Friday, August 23, 2013

Life's Passages-Small gift boxes-Pt 1: box discussion and plans

Hi Everyone,

It's been a different kind of week from usual. Our family got some bad news and so here is the story behind that:


I have a family member who got a terminal diagnosis last week. She has been fighting a particularly aggressive type of skin cancer and is losing the battle and probably doesn't have very long to live. So I have been helping her with listening and helping with errands, decision making, and hospice interviews. In the course of our discussions she hauled out her considerable jewelry collection.

She lives in a senior residence here in Minnesota and the staff there are fabulous. They do an absolutely excellent job of running the residence, planning events, helping with services (one is a social worker-God bless social workers), and generally helping a fragile group of people live independently and happily and with purpose. Those guys have been great.

So in looking at all this stuff spread out I suggested that she pick out a small piece of jewelry for each person and I would make 3 small turned wooden boxes to present them in. So that's our project for this weekend.


I purchased 3 3"x4" diameter blocks of wood from my good friends at Turning Blanks 4U in Florida as I wanted these to be special and Steve and Diane sell terrific turning stock. I purchased a cedar of Lebanon block, a camphor block, and a hackberry block and here is the photo of those blocks:

I have never turned hackberry before so I decided to work on that block first. I had seen hackberry before at a lumber yard in Minneapolis and the wood I saw was a greyish-cream with a lot of lavender undertones to it. It is found world wide, and it's woodworking uses are for boxes, crates, and firewood. It's unusual looking and so I decided to make one of the boxes out of that. This particular block was probably cut a while ago as it's very light weight:

So I drilled a hole in one end:

... attached it to the Nova chuck:

And began to turn it. It's very soft wood, and it reminded me of the pine wood that we turned last week. It has some spalted areas in it and it's overall a beige color. It took a while to get it shaped as it's very friable:

Here is the block after about 10 minutes of turning:

And here is the block after a few minutes of sanding and hollowing out:

 We'll have to stop there.  It's admittedly not the most exciting piece of wood I've turned this year, but who knows, it might fool us later.

Next, I decided to turn the cedar of lebanon. Cedar of Lebanon is native to mountainous areas of the Middle East and Mediterranean. It's been used by people for many centuries and has been cultivated for it's resin and wood. This is also a wood that I've never turned before and it reminds me a lot of douglas fir in appearance and in scent. As it's dinner time, I decided just to even up the sides of the block and turn away the wax coating. And it does look like douglas fir.

As evening is here and it's almost dinner and mosquito time, I'm going to stop for the day. Tomorrow I'll turn the camphor block, I'll sand everything, and then we'll cogitate on lids for all these fellows.

See you tomorrow,

1 comment:

  1. Over the years, I’ve always tried to make sure that my gifts are unique. While i was searching the web for personalized gift boxes I came across Unique Custom Products in Colorado. They personalize just about anything! For my dad’s birthday, I got him a custom made wooden box so that he could store all his valuable baseball cards. I even engraved his name on it and a picture of us from when i was little! I was able to get it done on short notice before his birthday at a really good price. Check them out at