Box 12

It’s been a long time since a simple box post.  This box has so much wrong with it – I just had to be done with it.  That said though, I like many of the new ideas (new for me) that it holds.

Box 12 B


The bottom is a fatter than two inch slab of pine carved out to about a half an inch of thickness on its base.  Then there’s a strip of cherry, and then walnut, and then redwood rounding out the lower box/bowl thing.  It is very compellingly irregular on close examination.  One thing is if you pretend you are much smaller than it and sailing by in a dinghy then it could look like a big ship that was trying to disguise itself as a fancy picnic basket.  Read that again..




Box 12 A


There it is in a symbolic context – you readers of signs note what warrants noting.

Box 12 0

It began from a lid for another box that, because it was too wide and the handle came to the edge, could not be made narrow enough for that box, so the lid went in search of another box.  The lid too actually angled out a little from the handle, something vaguely like a square-ish butterfly.  The lid was not finding natural mates in boxes to be lid of.  That’s a piece of tineo in the center though, for people who pay attention to things like that, and there’s orange osage and chechen and walnut and mahogany and oak and red birch in the lid, not a lid one would readily abandon.

A little bit of science got involved, about how could an ellipse be constructed such that the mid-points of each side were all that were left of each side?  Loci were located using a string and two pins.  An ellipse was drawn and then cut out.  This ellipse served as the shape of the cutout of the redwood, walnut, cherry, and pine.  And inner ellipse, 3/8 of an inch within, was drawn on the first three and cut out.  Three wooden zeroes.  I was feeling very masterly at this point.  I routed out the pine oval, creating a super-sized soap dish sort of thing and glued the perfectly sized zeroes atop it.

The rest just came together like nobody’s business.  I’ve got this thing now, and probably the market cornered too.  Marketing inquiries welcome.

But really it was fun.  A lot of the time the main missions are saving some work and learning something, and those things were accomplished.  And it could hold marbles, really any sort of otherwise loose dry little dry goods, and do it with style and uniqueness.

Box 12 C Box 12 E


Happy New year once again to all.  When a year begins as auspiciously as this there is no telling the possible upside.


In progress.

First, featuring sustainability (all wood sourced from town wood pile), no metal (no screws or nails, just dowels) and hopefully sturdiness (remains to be seen) begins to take shape.  An Adirondack chair, first chair I’ve ever built, design my own too – I’m really scared it will be a fail.  Most of wood is white oak (there were at least a dozen board feet of it lying graciously atop the pile on Tuesday), then there’s some oak from what looks like was an armoire, really lovely wood, might even be brown oak, and (we have a great scrap pile in this town) some mahogany to hold the back slats.  OK, ok, I confess there’s one piece of hickory that was not dump scrap but it had this cool fire pattern and I did not want to cut it in any way and I wanted a place for that pattern to be displayed so it becomes the back.  The stencil carve outs were in the brown oak already.  Weird spade hearts?

IMAG0224 IMAG0225

Second, featuring one of my favored woods (orange osage) the first and second rounds of cuts in what is wanting to become a goose neck ladle.

IMAG0226 IMAG0227


And third, what will become Box 12.  It’s grossly done but not glued or pinned or finished.  I really like the grain on the box (red birch).  The joints are as good as I’ve done yet, all tablesaw and careful measuring.  I am short some 1/4 inch walnut dowels to pin with, so it’s on pause.  The lid has assorted exotic but I am not much impressed, other than it looks fancy, that it’s good design or will endure.




Anyway, that’s July 5.  Reports will follow



What is that (Wallace) Stevens poem, where he slurs and mangles the syllables of the months to get to November as frozen in limbo?  I think the name was Metamorphosis – here’s a link to it though that may die in the fullness of time ( and even a bit of a clipping –


Yillow, yillow, yillow,
Old worm, my pretty quirk,
How the wind spells out
Sep – tem – ber….

Summer is in bones.
Cock-robin’s at Caracas.
Make o, make o, make o,
Oto – otu – bre.

And the rude leaves fall.
The rain falls. The sky
Falls and lies with worms.
The street lamps

Are those that have been hanged.
Dangling in an illogical
To and to and fro
Fro Niz – nil – imbo.


Now that’s more introduction than there is story here, even mis-introduction inasmuch as this is not about metamorphosis or being frozen in limbo, but the part that is a proper introduction is the mangling of the Octo- prefix, “Octobox”.

This ambitious box must be listed among the failures.  Each wall has two tenons.  I cut the tenons on a tablesaw and they are reasonably precise.  Likewise I cut the angles on the pillars with a tablesaw and they are reasonable precise too.  The mortises I used a hand router, there’s a little imprecision there (what is a ‘little’ imprecision?!) but the whole thing still comes out as a ring that fits together.



It may not be a pure fail but it certainly says a lot about how small imprecisions can have multiplicative consequences.  There is further saga and evidence on this one, I’ll have to return with more.  You can see though that the floor is not going to be easy, that a lid is certainly above my pay grade.  This was/is part of the conceptual polygon research theme too.


Box 11 – Maple and Black Walnut

Box 11 is a pretty fail.

I had some black walnut that I wanted to make a square box with that I had wanted to get the kinks out of my finger making before I cut into it.  After pondering for a while I came upon a method that I thought would let me make as many and as variably sized fingers as I liked with a high chance of near perfect accuracy.  The method was to have four pieces of identical wall stock, draw arbitrary parallel lines along their length, perhaps 10 or 12, clamp the pieces together and run them standing tall over the table say, incrementally advancing the stock crossward to remove every other finger space and do the opposite on the other side.  Foolproof, ya?

The fun part about devising foolproof methods is that you learn so much.  Unlike lines in geometry pencil lines have thickness.  Table saw blades too – right now I have a nicer one but I’m using the one that came with the saw and the kerf is almost 1/8th of an inch.  I kind of saw the problem right away but I figured that, having set the height of the blade to 1/2 inch, the thickness of the stock, at least there’d be no errors in that dimension and that hopefully by hand I’d be close to the mark.  I decided that the edge of the blade should meet the middle of pencil mark – the exact middle, mind you.

So you might imagine some small percentage of error crept in, what are a few sigmas here and there, and none of the boards went together right off the saw. Some of the fingers I’d made were too thin for a file to have room to adjust them.  I settled on a dremel tool with a cutter bit.  Felt like a dentist.  I got better at it but really all I ended up doing is highlighting the flaws in the method.

I had a different very nice piece of black walnut lying around.  A really nice one actually, like Biggs picture jasper almost, if you know your stones, so I figured I’d donate that for the time being to redeem this fail – can always re-purpose it.  Nonetheless it was fun – I’m curious if anyone has a hands only (no jig, no dado blade) method for finger/box joints that’s not just big Zen.

The diagonal strip across the base is eucalyptus.

Box 11 Maple and Black Walnut - B Box 11 Maple and Black Walnut - CBox 11 Maple and Black Walnut - A

Box 10 – Cherry Jade Mahogany Maple with Flying Buttresses

Here I was overblown with ambition.  Elsewhere there will be more upon stones and such, but suffice it to say for here that I’m a lifelong appreciator of stone and have collected it across the years at times almost convulsively.  One thing that occurred to me as I was starting all this woodworking was that to somehow marry wood to stone would be a cool thing.  I could not see a lid of such provenance being unconnected, so I’d have to do a hinge too.  Also as heavy a lid as that could easily topple the box, so something (I came up with a flying buttress, not having much osmium available) was needed to prevent that.  I used the pinned fingers that I’m comfortable with now.  Box is of curly maple.

An honorable mention must be made here to/for Art Brodie. I did not know the man, apparently he lived in the next town over.  After he died his children did a yard sale of his carpentry stuff.  There was tons of it and most amazingly they were giving away some very fine wood.  Both the curly maple and the mahogany on the inside of the box lid are from this fine fellow – thank you very much.

Box 10 Cherry Jade Mahogany Maple with Flying Butresses - ABox 10 Cherry Jade Mahogany Maple with Flying Butresses - BBox 10 Cherry Jade Mahogany Maple with Flying Butresses - CBox 10 Cherry Jade Mahogany Maple with Flying Butresses - D

Box 9

This is a new sort of fail.  I was pumped by box 8 into thinking I had gotten somewhere intrinsically past where I had been – had gotten better, but not really and far from it.  It’s not that it’s abysmal so much as verging on pathetic.  It looks nice and it’s OK but the cuts are just not accurate.  The attempted joint was interesting – two fingers + a miter on each corner but apparently I cannot identify or produce a 45 degree angle to save my life.  Soft maple.  Mulberry is the lid, that seems a nice wood.

Box 9 Maple and Mulberry ABox 9 Maple and Mulberry B

Box 8


Third time pays for all, some say.  Third time you should know something, at the very least, says I.

This third finger box is of red birch, which turns out to be a lovely wood. I had a 3/4 inch board of it leftover from the workbench and I took it down to a scrap over 1/2 inch thick.  On top I made a glue up of mahogany, red birch, and orange osage (the yellow).  I even went 3D with it, must have been a creative biorhythms abounding.  Used 1/4 inch black walnut dowels to pin the fingers.  This is the first one I am delighted with, not because it’s perfect by any means – many many mistakes are still present, but it’s neat.

Box 8 Red Birch Fancy Lid D

Box 8 Red Birch Fancy Lid A

Box 8 Red Birch Fancy Lid BBox 8 Red Birch Fancy Lid C

Box 7

The finger box redeemed, or at least set on that path.

April 2

Not so much vexed or perturbed but challenged by the considerable imperfection of the first finger box I set out to do it again but with greater concentration, attention to avoiding specific previous mistakes, revised methods including using a coping saw to remove the waste from (I think it’s called a tail) the space where the finger from the other side of the joint goes.  I think I got more than half the distance to the goal line, this one did not scream failure, it was OK enough that I even made a modest little lid for it.  The wood is poplar with the ever present 3/8 inch cedar floor.

Box 7 Poplar Box ABox 7 Poplar Box B





Box 6

March 27

A bit of a joke here, not a funny joke, but more like I had gotten some white oak that was unbelievably scraggly and bent, cracked, very difficult to bring to any fine place.  Very well then, I had to bring it where it wanted to go.  Tombstone planter.  Actually I broke my own rules on this one inasmuch as I had not used a nail or a screw in this boxes series.  Here there was no fineness to preserve – it was about affixing the pieces together.  One of the tombstone end pieces split as I was nearing completion – had to add glue and a clever array of clamps to rescue from pure failure.

Box 6 Tombstone Oak Planter ABox 6 Tombstone Oak Planter B

Box 5

March 21

A very rough finger box.  This was my first shot at finger / box joints for the corners.  The walls are now a reasonable thickness at 1/2 inch.  In this case they are recycled wood, I suspect pine.  The imprecision I was able to generate I could not begin to make detailed documentation of.  I pinned the fingers with dowels, sometimes protruding through the wall to which I was pinning the finger.  I fought through to make it sufficient to be a box and learned about the tolerances a bit and specific mistakes to avoid hand-cutting the fingers and spaces between them.  The thinner walls greatly improved the sense of usefulness but the execution failures doom this box to being a bent nail or old string holder.

Box 5 Rough Finger Box ABox 5 Rough Finger Box B