Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Ebonizing Project

Hi all,
I have made the sides, lid and base for the box that I am going to ebonize, but before I put on the ebonizing solution I wanted to do the scroll saw work on the lid.

I did the design for the inlay which can be seen below.
I think I must have got carried away because it was only when I finished did I realise that I'd made it very fine. Doing the inlay work of filling the leaves, stems and flowers won't be too difficult, but I'm going to have to be very patient when cutting it out on the scroll saw.

In fact, I hit my first snag before I could get started. Cutting the design out will require very fine blades and I didn't have any. Scroll saw blades come in a range of sizes from 2/0, which is 0.010 inches thick, to a size 12r, which is 0.024 inches thick. If you can't get your head around those numbers think in terms of drill sizes. A pilot hole of one 32nd of an inch is all that is needed to pass the smallest blade through.

Anyway, I've been using a lot of medium sized blades lately and hadn't thought about getting some new small blades. Whilst we are talking about blades, there are several different makes to choose from. I use Olson blades mainly because they are easy to order  from here they also have a great range of pyrography blanks, plans, rotary tools and lots of other stuff associated with small woodworking projects.

Delivery is usually pretty good, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the blades will be here tomorrow and I can then get on with the ebonizing project. Mean while I'm going to make a start on another project which will involve some pyrography work

Thursday, 23 October 2014


Hi all,
I have been deprived of crafting time for a long time but that is about to come to and end because my wife can't stand the smell of paint. This means that the decorating is being put on hold till next April when we can have the windows open to let the fumes out.

So, I'm like a dog with 2 bones at the moments and, because I was spoilt for choice and didn't know which project to do first, I have started 3 at the same time.

I will tell you about the others in my next post but first I will share my ebonizing project with you. I have always been keen on the look of pietra dura, which is all about using precious stones to form pictures. They are inlaid into other pieces of stone or sometimes inlaid into wood.

So I have decided to make a box, cut out some flowers on the top with my scroll saw and then inlay them with clay because I can't afford precious stones.

To get a good contrast between the wood and the stones, pietra dura artists commonly used ebony, which is a black wood that can be seen on the keyboard of a piano. Ebony is a very expensive wood so I decided to make my own, Obviously I can't make wood, but according to what I have researched it is possible to ebonize other woods and make them black by painting them with a special solution.

Oak is a good wood because it contains the right natural ingredients to  react with the special solution which is made from steel wool and white wine vinegar. No, I'm not making this up and if you manage to stay with me for a few post you can see if it works.

I rinsed the soap out of one of my wife's brillo pads when she wasn't looking and mixed it with some of the white wine vinegar she had lurking at the back of the pantry. I put the pad in an empty marmalade jar poured on the vinegar and, after drilling a few holes in the top to allow obnoxious gases to escape, I took it down to my shed to let it ferment. Here it is after two weeks brewing.
Tomorrow, I'm going to begin cutting the wood for the box and then I can see if this magic solution works, If it doesn't, I suppose there is always black paint.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Another Vase

Hi all,
Because my wife is knocking out clay flowers with some rapidity, I decided to make her another vase. This I hoped would keep her quiet for a bit and allow me the pleasure of doing a bit of pyrography on it.

I wanted it to be slender and elegant, so here is what I came up with.
It is essential a prototype because I was experimenting with the scrolled top and having a base to support it.

The centre is a piece of three quarter inch pine and the front and back are both cut from obeche. I cut each piece out and then glued them together like an ice cream wafer. Then I sanded the vase down to smooth out any lumps and bumps. I did the sanding on my oscillating drum sander and it didn't take me long to find my first problem. The curves on the inside of the scrolls were too tight to take even my smallest drum, so I had to do that part by hand. Sanding by hand is a bore so I won't make that mistake again.

Obviously the design also needs a base because it is top heavy, so I designed one in the shape of a flower. I cut it out on the scroll saw, did a bit of shaping with my rotary tool and then did a bit of pyrography on it. I also drilled a hole in the middle to allow me to screw it to the bottom of the vase.
Here it is.
Not to bad even if I say it myself. It didn't need to be a masterpiece because it was only going on a prototype. Anyway, I screwed it on the vase and it looked awful because the bottom of the vase was oblong. It would have looked great on a circular vase but it looked like a right carbuncle on the one I'd just made.

So I made a oblong base that was more suitable and screwed that to the vase and then set about it with my pyrography iron. Even though it is only a prototype I made a right pigs ear of the front,(not shown)  so I turned it around and did some more pyrography on the back, which now doubt will now become the front. Here is the finished article.
Not too bad, but it's a case of back to the drawing board because it could have been much better. Here it is with one of my wife's flowers stuck in it.
I am aware that of late my posts have been infrequent, but all of that is about to change. I'm about three quarters of the way through decorating the house but because we are both chocking to death on the paint fumes we are going top knock it on the head till next spring. This and the fact that my latest book, 'The reluctant Pom' is almost finished, means that I will have lots more time for crafty stuff.

My head is full of ideas so I hope to be sharing them with you all soon. They will include inlaying with both wood and clay and I'm also going to have a go at ebonizing. In fact, as I write this post, I've got some ebonizing solution brewing nicely in my shed and I will tell you what that is all about in my next post.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Wooden Vase

Hi all,
My wife asked me to make a her a wooden vase for some flowers, so I made her one using my scroll saw. The centre is made from maple and the front and back pieces are made from Obeche.

Now you may be thinking that a wooden vase is about as much use as a brolly in a bath, so I'll put you straight before we go any further. My wife has started making flowers out of clay and once she gets going she can be very prolific. The clay flowers are sticking out of every orifice we own and our conservatory is beginning to look like Kew Gardens. Okay, I've exaggerated a bit, but at her request I made a wooden vase for her and here it is.
It stands about five inches high and has holes drilled into the to recess to take the flower stems. I left the front and back plain and cut them from a light coloured wood so that she could do some pyrography work on it when she wanted a break from fiddling with petals.

I am pleased with the shape, which was my own design, and even more pleased with how easy it was to make. I cut out the main piece of maple and then drew around it with a pencil onto a couple of pieces of obeche  and then cut them out. All I had to do then was stick the fronts and backs on with some wood glue and drill some holes for the flowers.

My wife was well pleased too and soon began filling it with flowers.
She also did a bit of pyrography work on the front panel. It hasn't been varnished yet, but I think it looks pretty good and displays her flowers nicely.

The only issue I have now is that she is going to want a more making and if I'm going to keep pace with her I will be very busy. In fact, I've already started the next vase and I'll show you that in my next post.