Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Acorn snuff box

Hi all,
At the moment, there seems to be a glut of of antiques programmes on the telly. The antiques road show, the antiques road trip, flog it and bargain hunt just to mention a few. I'm not moaning, in fact, I have to admit that I quite like these programmes because they are gentle and at times they can be very informative.

Anyway, at least once a week a snuff box will turn up on one of these shows because they are quite popular with the collectors. I like them too, so I thought I'd put my scroll saw and pyrorgaphy iron to work to see if I could make one.

Here is the finished result.

It is an acorn made from three pieces of wood. The top is cut from a piece of pine. I chose pine for the top because I knew it would need a lot of shaping. Pine is a soft wood and easy to shape.

The box part is cut from a piece of maple, which is a very hard wood and one that I won't be using again in a hurry. The shape of the box has sloping sides, so I had to cut them at a twenty degree angle which made the sawing task more difficult than normal.
The fact that I have an excalibur scroll saw however did make it slightly easier because of one of the unique features of the saw is that sawing at an angle is facilitated by angling the blade and not the table as is the case on other scroll saws.

The base was cut from a piece of 3mm ply. If you are wondering what the black circle is, I can tell you that it is a magnet and it is used to attach the lid so that it opens with a circular motion.  Another magnet is positioned in the underside of the lid and it holds the lid in place.

I tried using magnets on this project because I dislike using miniature hinges, but to be honest, magnets turned out to be just as big a pain in the butt. The magnets are 12mm in diameter, so I purchased a 12mm forstner bit in the expectation that I would get a snug fit after drilling the holes. How wrong can you be, either the magnets are well over 12mm or the forstner bit is well under. Getting them to line up was also another headache. I finally overcame that particular hurdle with a tube of water colour paint, but I won't go into that now.

Here is the finished box.
The pyrography was a pleasure to do. I used a spoon tip as usual and a high temperature setting to do some arcing lines for the acorn cup. I then finished it off with three coats of varnish.

I hope you like my little pyrography acorn box, now all I need is some snuff.  By the way, I will be continuing the oak theme in my next post as I am doing something else in oak. It will require some nice pyrography work and I am looking forward to sharing it with you.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Pyrography flower pot

Hi All, I was busy with the scroll saw and pyrography iron last week and here is what I came up with. I designed it myself and being a prototype it came out very nice.

Now you may be saying to yourself what the hell is that? The answer is a vase.
At this point you may have started laughing to yourself because a wooden vase is about as much use as a chocolate tea pot; they are both apt to go a bit soggy. By now you are probably thinking that I've lost the plot and spent a lot of time doing scroll and pyrography work on a doomed project.

Well I haven't really, and here's why. A couple of posts ago, I mentioned that my wife had taken to making flowers out of clay, so I thought I'd make her something to put them in. Yes I know it is hard to believe that they are not real, and even the insects have been fooled. We've had all sorts of bees banging on the window to get at them. Here's a closer photo.
The crazy thing is, she makes it all look so easy, so it isn't any wonder that her pyrography work is so good. Anyway, I'll have to leave it there because my computer is playing up and I don't want to lose everything I've written. Please excuse my spelling if it is worse that normal because the spell checker isn't working either. My next post will contain more original pyrography.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013


Hi all,
It was my wife's birthday last week and I bought her some presents in line with her requests. We both hate receiving useless gifts of which we have both been the recipients. Somebody once decided it would be nice to knit me a bag to keep my electric tooth brush in. I appreciated the effort, but after a decent amount of time had gone by I'm afraid I succumbed and banged it in the wheelie.

Anyway, I got her a load of stuff that she wanted for her new hobby, making flowers from clay, but I wanted to do her a surprise. It was hard work making it in secret, especially as my workshop is next to the kitchen, but here it is.
I cut it out with my scroll saw from a piece of American cherry and used box joints on the corners. I think the red of the wood gives it a rich look and surprisingly it worked very well with the pyrography.

Here is the top.
Those of you who have been following my pyrography blog for a while will probably recognise the design because I have used it before on a previous box. That one was done with pyrography only but I thought the design would lend itself well to being cut out with a scroll saw. One of the good things about doing your own design work is that you can adapt it for several projects. All I had to do in this case was find the file on the computer and tweak the size and shape to fit the panels on the box.

Here is the front
After I'd done the pyrography work, I painted the damselflies with some of my wife's special paints. They work extremely well especially on the wings. I then sprayed the whole thing several times to give it a good protective coat of varnish. All that was left then was the worst bit. I love scroll sawing and I love doing pyrography but I hate sticking felt inside boxes. My wife usually performs this hideous task for me, but seeing as the box was for her, I had no option but to do it myself.

When her birthday arrived I don't know who was the most excited as she unwrapped her present. I hoped she would like her surprise and I wasn't disappointed, she loved it.

My only problem now is finding time to do some scroll work and some pyrography that I can sell, perhaps this week I will be lucky.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Berries And Flowers

Hi all, In my last post I said I'd show you what my wife has been up to with her pyrography iron. She completed this 10 inch plaque during the heatwave. It was too hot to be inside the house, so I ran an extension down the garden and she plugged her pyrography iron in under the shade of our willow tree.
I think it is very nice and so different from the stuff I do. I'd love to hear what you think.
 The bad news is that it might be a while before my wife's fine  pyrography graces these pages again because she has taken up a new craft. She has always had a passion for flowers and is now making them out of clay. I've been stunned by how good her first attempts have been and will show you one of them in my next post

I also said in my last post that I'd run through the method I used to create the box I showed you last week. To save you going back,  here is a picture of the box again.
 I decided on the size of the box and then cut out the 4 pieces for the front back and sides and once the size was decided I could then do my design to suit.

I chose leaves because I could use the tendrils between each leaf for bridges when doing the fret work with the scroll saw. The bridges are the bits that connect the wood together and without these it would all just drop into the box.

I also chose leaves because I wanted to do something different. If you look at most fret work, you will find that it is symmetrical and I wanted to get away from that.

Once the drawing was done, I transferred it to the wood. This was done by sticking the drawing onto the wood with some temporary adhesive. I then drilled pilot holes between the leaves and tendrils. The pilot holes are there to allow me to thread the saw blade through the wood. By the way, if you are thinking of getting a scroll saw, make sure you get one that takes plain blades. Pin end blades do not allow you to do fine fretwork.

Once the drilling was done, I carefully cut the design out of wood and then burnt in the pyrography pattern.

Then came the really tricky bit; I had to make joints for the corners. At this stage of my woodworking career I decided that dovetails were well out of my league, so I thought I'd have a go at mitre joints, which I would make on my disc sander. I'll cut a long story short, they came out crap. In fact, they looked like I'd done them with an axe. The joints needed to be hidden so now you know why there is a column on each corner.

The next thing I did was cut out the base. I put a curvy design into it to match the columns on the corners. Once all this was glued up I did another design for the lid, which I then cut out and did the pyrography work on it.

The lid was then attached to the box with hinges. these were glued on with epoxy resin and pins. I hate fixing hinges to anything because they seem to have a mind of there own.

I then gave the box 3 coats of varnish and stuck some felt on the bottom and the base inside.

The whole thing was time consuming and took a lot of concentration, but the end result was worth it. Being able to create something pleasing out of a few bits of wood is good for the soul.

Having done one box I thought I'd do another and I'll share that with you in my next post.