Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Final Pictures: Wine Ceremony Box

Well the wine ceremony box is paid for and delivered. The couple was incredibly happy with the results and I hope it works well for them as a reminder for many, many years to come. Here are some of the final pics I managed to get before it was off and gone into another life.

Often times when I build a piece for myself or my own reasons I find myself experimenting with something new. A different joinery, a different way to cut the joinery, a unfamiliar species of wood, something, anything to expand my experience and hopefully make me better. 

Since I am always trying to push my boundaries outward it was interesting to create a piece where I used techniques I already knew how to do well and see how fast it came together. After dedicating myself to this hand tool woodworking ideal for a couple of years now I have to say even I was impressed. If I worked in a shop full time I could have had this ready for finishing in a day and a half. Raw board to hardware fit. 

The next step in anything is evaluation, Simon Cowell style, rip it apart so the next one is better. What would I do differently if I were to do it all over again.

1. For the sake of speed I used 1/4 birch plywood for the bottom of the box. I would have preferred solid wood (no reason other than personal fetish)

2. I would have liked some strap hinges instead of simple brass ones, (not that it matters a lot on a box that will probably stay nailed shut for the next quarter century)

3. I didn't take the time to plan my dovetails around the grooves plowed that capture the bottom and so I had to glue in small patch pieces to hide the showing gaps. The patches are probably only visible to me (and now to you because I told you to look for them) but in my mind I would feel better if I made it right the first time and didn't plan to patch at all, I just haven't fixed this geometry in my head enough to make it second nature yet.

4. I'm not completely sold on the interior battens, They are glued on only half and nailed across the whole of the lid to help promote the lid staying flat as long as possible. I gave an instruction letter to the new owners explaining some of the quirks about living with and using solid wood furniture, something today's consumer doesn't get a whole lot of experience with. I woulds have preferred full length battens on the outside edges of the piece but in the end I didn't like the way it would look this time around. I wanted very, very clean lines. Only time will tell I guess, and chances are I will never hear one way or another.

At any rate, here's to the new owners, may the years be kind to their relationship and may their love grow strong like the oak that this box is carved from.

Ratione et Passionis

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Just Like A Real Artist.

All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once you grow up.

-Pablo Picasso

In a phone conversation with a recent client he told me how he really liked my carving work, he said, "It's like you're a real artist."

I have to admit I wasn't sure how to respond, The problem is I think I have always thought of myself as an artist, it just took me several years to find a medium I love.

Ratione et Passionis

Sunday, April 1, 2012

A Carved Box in Two Weeks . . . Is It Possible?

A Wine Ceremony is a beautiful idea. It's part of a wedding ceremony were the couple places a bottle of wine and a letter written by each of them about the other into a box and then they nail the box closed until some future occasion, like a silver anniversary, comes around and the box is pried open, the letters are read and the wine is sipped and a long marriage is celebrated.

Even my cynical self can admit its a pretty cool idea although I would cringe to think what crap my nineteen year old mind would have committed to paper seventeen years ago.

I had a good man I used to work with give me a call a week ago and told me about the custom made wine ceremony box he had ordered online. I was plywood and stapled together at the corners and sure it had the bride and groom's names burned onto it but to me it didn't sound like an object that would symbolize strength and long lasting commitment. He'd seen some of my work online and wanted to know if I could help by building something that was more special than what he had.

Oh . . . and he was going to be married in two weeks.

How could I say no. Needless to say it's been a busy week.

I started by picking some stock. I don't know a whole lot about wine but one of the bottles I borrowed to check size said "oak barrels" on the label. The best stock I could find was of the red oak variety, probably highly inaccurate, but one of my favorites anyway. After cutting my panels to size I ran a groove for the bottom using my new, old plow plane. (I know I was complaining about not having one a while back and I have managed to remedy that)

I was trying to get as much done as possible every time I got to work on the box, that being said I didn't take the time to set up as many photos as I usually do. This makes the story telling process behind this box a little abbreviated.

Next I measured and cut some dovetail joinery for the corners. With that finished I dry fit the box together and test fit a bottle of wine inside. The client asked for enough room for two bottles of wine so they could include some wine glasses inside.

The only request other than size was that he wanted something similar on the lid as I had recently carved on the Mahogany Bible Box. The two hearts design is what had caught his eye. The rest of the decisions he left completely in my hands, a perfect client if I've ever worked with one. Carving the sides of the box were to be gravy, something if I had time.

Of course I made time.

I sawed some 1/4" birch plywood for the bottom. I often dislike plywood but decided for the sake of speed and stability I would use it in this instance. The good birch plywood is very nice stuff anyway.

It was time to start on the lid, I laid out the pattern and did my initial mark out with V chisel and gouges.

Some more time with the carving tools and I had the lid finished.

A couple of hinges and we have a box. It needed some cleaning up of course but it was done, a box carved and ready for finish in a week. I even kind of impressed myself with the feat considering I've taken more time to accomplish them in the past.

Some clean up of the dovetails and some sanding and the first coat of Fruitwood Danish Oil went on this evening. A couple more coats over the next few days and I will be able to deliver this piece ahead of schedule. and that lets me breath a sigh of relief because I pressured myself at every step and cut that I couldn't afford the time to remake a part or repair a big mistake if I made one. I'm happy it worked out and I hope the client likes it as well.

Ratione et Passionis