10 Boxes - Part 2
Wednesday 07 October 2009
This box in boxwood (Buxus sempervirens) incorporates the natural-edge of the log. If you don't have boxwood, it is advisable to look at woods that have a small bark and pith area, so that during turning there is a likelihood of losing that section. Yew, fruitwood branches and so on, are great timbers to explore for this type of project, as are some burrs, especially the small Australian ones. It is, in effect, a pedestal box for a ring. The lid is simply a sit-in-a-groove type to locate it. This can then be lifted off with the minimum of fuss.
The hardest part of working with natural-edged work is cutting through the hit/miss section of the irregular branch shape. The simple trick is to glide the tool through the cut, maintaining pressure on the rest and gentle bevel contact with the wood as it rotates round. If you put too much pressure in to the work to maintain bevel contact, you will not have a smooth cut, and when the natural-edged section is a bit thinner it may well deflect it, which is likely to result in splitting or a juddering cut, which you do not want.
Tools used: 19mm (3/4in) spindle roughing gouge, 10mm (3/8in) spindle gouge, 10mm (3/8in) beading/parting tool, 25mm (1in) French-curve scraper, abrasive down to 600 grit, oil finish
This heart-shaped box with finial is made from a bur elm (Ulmus procera) and African blackwood (Dalbergia melanoxylon). The heart-shaped box or hollow form is the hardest shape you are likely to tackle within this article. This is mainly due to accessing the various areas and also the grain direction, so cutting with the grain. Most of the hollowing can be done with a gouge and the hollowing tool of your choice used to finish off under the shoulder. The lid is a sit-in type, as people will pick this up by the finial. This means that the finial must not be too delicate, or else it is likely to break.
When turning the finial between centres, create a round tenon of a size that will fit in the Jacobs chuck. This way the finial can be created while held in a chuck with the tailstock as support. Cut from the tailstock back towards the chuck to achieve the finished finial. The last cut should be made after releasing the tailstock, allowing you to clean up the tip of the finial. I did this by supporting the finial in my left hand and making two delicate cuts to remove the section which was left by the tailstock.
Tools used: 19mm (3/4in) spindle roughing gouge, 10mm (3/8in) spindle gouge, 10mm (3/8in) beading/parting tool, 25mm (1in) French-curve scraper, articulated or swan-necked hollowing tool, Jacobs chuck and 4mm (5/32in) drill bit, abrasive down to 600 grit, oil finish
This box is made from American red oak (Quercus robur). The base should cause no problems, but the trickiest part is working with the square edges for the top of the lid. I have turned them so the wings point upwards, but you could have them coming out square to the sides, or pointing downwards. The cutting action required for this is similar to that of the natural-edge piece before. You must cut in such a way as to protect the wing tips at all times.
To finish off the top design I used tissue paper placed over the spigot, on to which the lid will sit to ensure a snug fit while turning – it is in effect creating a jam chuck.
Sand the lid while stationary to make sure you don't catch your fingers in the spinning corners. I have done this and it hurts!
Tools used: 19mm (3/4in) spindle roughing gouge, 10mm (3/8in) spindle gouge, 10mm (3/8in) beading/parting tool, 25mm (1in) French-curve scraper, abrasive down to 400 grit, oil finish
This box is one that I find tactile and I keep coming back to this design time and time again in various guises. It is a variant of a rugby ball. Made from London plane (Platanus hybrida) you can see there are clearly defined rays within the wood, which add a new visual dimension. Quarter-sawn plane is referred to as lacewood. The problem with this shape is they don't stay in one place. There is no base for them to sit on, but they roll in an arc and will settle once they have the heaviest part of the box down toward the surface on which it sits. In a previous incarnation of this form, I placed the micro beads all the way around it and just left the ends clean.
Because there is a mating spigot and recess the internal form is best left a little thicker than you would normally turn it. Once the recess and joining spigot is created, reduce the wall thickness at that stage to your preference.
Firstly, I tried applying a high gloss lacquer to this box, but the gloss, I thought, diminished the appearance of the ray figuring, so instead, for this project, I opted for oil.
Tools used: 19mm (3/4in) spindle roughing gouge, 10mm (3/8in) spindle gouge, 10mm (3/8in) beading/parting tool, 25mm (1in) French-curves craper, micro-bead-forming tool, abrasive down to 600 grit, oil finish
Spheres have featured a lot in the magazine recently. This one from yew (Taxus baccata) is made from branchwood and has a loose ring to sit on so it is not able to roll away. There has been a lot of information in recent issues on how to make a sphere – the biggest problem you have is how to make the joining spigot. Again, the wall thickness should be left thick until the spigot and corresponding recess is cut, then the wall thickness can be reduced to the size you desire.
The loose ring is made in a contrasting timber using a bead-forming tool, or the dedicated captive ring-cutting tools. It adds a nice contrast to the piece and also allows the sphere to perform a practical function.
Another thing to watch out for on this project is the sanding. Yew heat checks quickly, so work through the grades with a light touch.
Tools used: 19mm (3/4in) spindle roughing gouge, 10mm (3/8in) spindle gouge, 10mm (3/8in) beading/parting tool, 25mm (1in) French-curve scraper, micro bead-forming tool, 10mm (3/8in)bead forming tool or captive ring-cutting tools, abrasive down to 600 grit, spray lacquer finish