Saturday, 26 October 2013

Apple Blossom

Hi all,

I spent much of this week finishing off another box. This one was cut from a piece of mahogany and features scroll sawing on the ends.

And on the front and back.

Care was taken when cutting out each petal because the design I came up with needed only a thin piece of wood between each petal. The total number of petals to be cut out was 60 and I'm afraid that my concentration began to wain as I approached the end and I got a kick back. This incident broke the piece of wood that separated too petals. I swore a little when it happened, but it could have been worse, at least I didn't cut a finger off.

Kick backs are quite common when using a scroll saw and this is especially so when using reverse blades. Because the teeth at the bottom of the blade point upwards it means that the wood can be lifted by the blade and, if it isn't being held firmly enough, the wood bounces about on the table in an alarming manner. For this reason it is often referred to as table slap. To prevent table slap, all scroll saws are fitted with a piece of metal to hold the wood in place. The only trouble is it gets in the way so most scroll sawers, including me, end up ditching it.

Anyway, I was making the box for my own use so it didn't matter as much as it would if I was intending to selling it. This box was to be a prototype for my foray into inlay work using polymer clay.

The design for the lid of the box was cut out in much the same way as the sides and ends and the holes underneath were covered with a piece of 3mm ply wood. This was glued into place and clamped to make sure it was a tight seal. When it was dry I mixed up some polymer clay and pressed it into the holes in the wood with a craft knife.

For the branches I used white, translucent and a very small  amount of black clay. While for the flowers I used white, translucent, and pink. The make of clay used was sculpey premo. Once the holes had been filled with clay I baked the lid for 30 minutes following the instructions on the packet.
Here is the finished lid.

When it came out of the oven I was surprised to find that the clay had raised itself a little, but this was soon rendered flush by giving it a couple of seconds on my belt sander. I then finished the lid and the rest of the box with a wax polish.

All in all, I think my first attempt at a proper inlay was a a success. With hindsight I would have not made the flowers quite so pink and I would have mixed a little brown in the colour used for the branches instead of black.

In my next post I will show you a couple of boxes that I have made that have fallen to the heat of my pyrography iron. But for now I must get back to the packing. We will be moving house in a couple of weeks and a lot needs to be done.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Walnut box finished at last

Hi all, sorry about the delay in getting this post out, but we are hoping to move house soon and preparations for that are not only abundant, but they they also have priority.

Anyway, here's how I finished the walnut box. After sticking the fronts and sides together I did a design for the lid that carried on with the fuchsia theme.
I left a small space in the middle for a knob which I had intended to make from clay. However, rolling a small ball of clay into a perfectly round sphere is something beyond me, and, seeing as I wanted the box to look special, I decided to make one out of a tiny bit of scrap walnut.

Cutting the lid on the scroll saw required a lot of concentration because in some places the design called for narrow pieces of wood. Still it all went well and I was soon burning in the fuchsias with my pyrography iron. Once that was done I gave the whole box a rub down with fine sand paper and then a coat of sanding sealer.

The box was finally finished with three coats of varnish and some nice felt was stuck to the bottom by an expert box felter (my wife) who does a fantastic job.
Here is the finished box prior to the felting. I was going to sell it on folksy, but like a lot of stuff I have been doing recently, my wife bagsied it for the house. Ah well, you can't win them all. My next project is another box that will be made from Mahogany. It will have an apple blossom design and will have a lid which has been inlaid with clay.

If I can just get on top of these moving house tasks, I hope to show it to you soon.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Happy Little Pot

Hi all,
Sorry if you are expecting the last instalment of the walnut box, but there has been a change of plan. When I started doing pyrography I was pleased with how quick I could produce something that gave me pleasure.

However, I have recently been making my own boxes on a scroll saw and, although they do provide a lot of satisfaction when completed, they are quite a long while in the making. Depending on how much free time I have available it can sometimes take up to 3 weeks to complete 1 box and that is frustrating.

Over the years, I have often pondered the issue regarding what makes me happy. If you take away the thorny subject of money, happiness is an elusive commodity. For many years I thought the route to happiness was through contentment. If one could be satisfied with ones lot and not always be coveting what others had got, it should lead one to happiness. This theory is good to a point, but when one is sitting in ones chair how do you give yourself a little boost?

I don't know about anybody else, but for me it is achieving something or making something, and that is why pyrography is so good. I was 2 weeks into the walnut box and wondering if I'd ever finish it when I decided a quick shot of achievement would be good. So I immediately turned to my pyrography iron.

I looked at my blanks and found a small trinket box that I had purchased a few moths ago and set about creating a pattern on it with my pyrography iron. I didn't pencil it in first, I just went for it with the iron and hoped for the best.
One hour later, I had created something that I was very pleased with and that is where a lot of my pleasure comes from with pyrography. Now all I have to do is upload it to and see if anybody else likes it as well.

In my next post I'm looking forward to showing you the finished walnut box.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Walnut Box Part 3 and a free book

Hi all,
In my last post I mentioned the main difference regarding scroll saw blades and I will repeat it here just for the purpose of any new readers. If you are thinking of buying a scroll saw, make sure you get one that will take plain end blades. Pin end blades are useless for any detailed fretwork.

Besides various sizes of blade, mentioned in my last post, there are other attributes to consider when choosing a blade for a certain project. Some blades just a have a straight row of teeth, while others have every other saw tooth missing, these are called skip tooth blades. Then there are reverse tooth blades where the bottom few teeth point in the opposite direction. I use reverse tooth blades because they prevent tear out on the bottom side of the wood. If this is the case I can't think why I would want to use a skip tooth blade. Apparently they cut faster, but if you see how quick a decent scroll saw goes you may wonder at the logic in trying to go any faster, especially if it leads to torn out grain at the bottom of the saw cut. Saving micro seconds on the sawing and then having to spend a lot of time sanding the torn out grain on the underneath of the project doesn't seem like a reasonable payoff to me.

Anyway, back to the box. Here is a view of one of the ends after the scroll work has been done. You will also notice that I have used my pyrography iron to separate the flowers. 
Here is a little observation. When it comes to doing a bit of pyrography on most woods the smell that is created is what you would expect. It smells like wood burning, which thankfully isn't too unpleasant, that is as long as your name isn't Guy Fawkes or Joan of Arc.

Anyway, be aware that walnut smells pretty grim when it is being burnt with a pyrography iron. It has a  pong like gone-off kippers. Despite having my extractor fan on and the window open in my workshop, by the time I'd finished doing the pyrography, I smelt like an Arbroath Smokie.

After all the sizes were cut, burnt and sanded I stuck the box together with wood glue and clamped them together

Here are the four sides complete.
The next step was to cut a piece of wood for the base and after that I started to work on the design for the lid. I will show you that in my next post.

By the way. if you are interested in a free book. One of mine called Bossyboots is available as a free download on Just click here and enter the following coupon code at the check out TK32S.