Monday, 24 November 2014

Inlaid Poppies

Hi all, after the hard work I put into the ebonized box with the inlaid polymer clay lid, I decided to do something quicker that would allow me enjoy a bit of pyrography at the same time.

I am struggling to keep up with my wife's requirements for wooden vases, especially as we are coming up to Christmas. She has decided to give bunches of her clay flowers to a couple of her friends and she has commissioned me to do the vases. No money is involved, but I find it is always best to keep on the right side of cook.

Here is a the front of the first vase. The vase is made from a piece of pine which, after doing the inlay work shown below, was  sandwiched between two pieces of quarter in thick mahogany. The inlay is done from quarter inch thick Baltic Birch ply wood, which I have chosen because it is great for doing pyrography work on.

Cutting out the flowers is an interesting task especially where there are tight turns. Even when using the smallest blade I can buy, sharp turns are very difficult. You can see in the photo above where I have drilled the hole to pass the blade through the wood to cut out the flowers. I like to position the hole on the inside of the tightest bend because that saves me having to do a sharp turn. I just saw my way out of it, go around the flower and back to the hole. The holes at this stage may look like they will stick out like a sore thumb, but they will be disguised in the finished product.

The rest of the cutting went very well and you can see that there aren't any gaps around the edge of the flowers. This is done by sawing with a slight angle on the blade. Most scroll saws allow the user to change the angle of the scroll saw table, but I have an excalibur saw which allows me to change the angle of the saw which makes angle cutting much easier.

If you are going to attempt to do any inlay work I suggest you cut a few test pieces before you try in on your project. The angle needs to be set relative to the thickness of the wood. If you don't have enough angle you inlay will be a sloppy fit. On the other hand if you set the angle too acutely your inlay won't fit in the hole at all.

For this project with quarter inch thick wood I set the angle a gnat's nudger under 2 degrees, so I suggest you use that for a reference point when doing your test cuts.

Anyway, here is the vase once it had been stuck together sanded and had the pyrography work done.
I like it and my wife seems quite pleased too. Notice how the blade entry holes have been disguised with a little saw dust and pyrography.
In fact, she wants the next vase to have tulips on it, so I will probably have that to show you in my next post. Then I'm done with vases and I'm going to have a go at something completely different

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Ebonized Box Finished

Hi all,
I have just finished the ebonized box project. It has taken a long time and it hasn't been one of my best experiences.  When the lid came out of the oven burnt it, still wasn't the end end of the problems but I'll tell you about that in a minute.
 For those who missed my last post showing the burnt lid here it is again you save you looking back through old posts.
I did try removing the burnt clay with the hope that it might save me the trouble of cutting the wood, again, but a stick of dynamite wouldn't shift it. The thought of going all that sawing again gave me the gyp so I modified the design to make it a bit quicker to cut. The other thing I did differently was to fill the cut with the clay before painting it with the ebonizing solution.

I noticed that on the first version, that I ebonized first, some of the black was coming off onto the clay so it made sense to fill it first. It was a bit tedious painting around the inlay work with the ebonizing solution but it was the best option.

Anyway, without further dalliance here is the finished box. Any comments would be appreciated.
It doesn't quite have the wow factor that the one in my head had before I made it but it is good enough for a first go at ebonizing. I will have another go at something similar but not just yet because the end result did not match the time and effort I put into it. When I found out that I had made another silly error and cut the lid 6mm too small the thing almost went into the wheelie.

I suppose it worked out well in the end and I have a new box for my bed side table. Every night I will deposit my rings, keys and loose change into it, so it will be very useful.

So what for my next project. Well, I have just done a bit of wooden inlaying on a vase, and I will be getting a result much quicker. I am doing a bit of pyrography on it as well and will show you the finished thing in my next post.

By the way, my wife is doing really well with her clay flower making. In fact, she is getting fed up with having nobody to show them to. I set her a blog up a few months ago and I think she is going to start using it. If you are interested in clay flowers or know anybody else who is that way inclined here is the link. I will leave you with a vase full of her latest creations.


Saturday, 8 November 2014

A Disaster

Hi all,
I've just had a disaster, so I thought I'd share it with you. I said I was going to rescue the ebonising project, but it has gone down hill faster than a fridge strapped to a sledge.

I have done a bit of inlaying with polymer clay before; here is a photo of one I did earlier. The pound coin just gives you an idea of the scale.
Anyway, I inlaid a load of polymer clay into the lid of the box I was working on and stuck it it the oven to cure. Thirty minutes later this is what I came back to.
I felt like weeping buckets but being a male I hung onto my tears and went into a sulk for a couple of hours. I over it now and trying to figure out what went wrong.

If I find out I'll let you know in my next post.

Thursday, 6 November 2014


Hi All,
My wife asked me to make her a small wooden planter for a cyclamen plant that she was making out of clay. So, being a good and dutiful husband, I dashed into my workshop and knocked her one up with my scroll saw from a piece of reclaimed wardrobe. I didn't gain any brownie point though; when I gave it to her she burst out laughing because it was too small. However, it didn't take her long to fill it full of clay flowers of unknown species.
Undaunted, I returned to my workshop and made something that was of a size more in line with her requirements. With this she was very pleased and, as a reward for my efforts she baked me a delicious raspberry jam and butter cream swiss roll.

Here is the planter with the cyclamen.

While I'm winning, I'm going to make her another wooden vase and do a bit of inlay work and pyrography on the front. I will let you have look at it in my next post along with the progress I've made regarding the ebonizing project. It isn't going to plan, in fact its turning into a disaster but I'm hoping to rescue it during the next couple of days.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014


Hi All,
 I finished cutting the wood for the ebonizing project from some oak that I got from Hobbies via the Internet. Hobbies is a great shop for those people who make models and that sort of stuff. If you haven't come across them before they are well worth a look.

After cutting out the pieces of wood on my scroll saw, I joined the sides together to form the box and then set about doing the fret work on the lid.
The scroll saw work on the lid was time consuming but extremely therapeutic; a very fine blade and total concentration was required to cut out the fine lines. Then came the moment of truth, I laid the pieces out and then brushed them all over with my ebonizing solution.
For those who may have missed the post with the recipe, here it is again.

Take one Brillo pad and wash out all  the soap. (You could just use a wodge of steel wool instead)
Half fill a jar with white wine vinegar.
Drop the Brillo pad into the jar of liquid, put on the lid and give it a bit of a shake.
Important note: Use a drill to make a few holes in the lid of the jar or make holes in it with a hammer and nail. This is to let the volatile gases, that are produced by the mixture, to escape.
Actually, I can't see why they should be bad but better to be safe that sorry and holes are pretty cheap.

I left the solution in the  garden shed to brew for a couple of weeks and to be honest I wasn't really expecting brilliant results as I brushed the stuff on. However, I shouldn't have worried because here is a picture of the same parts five minutes after the ebonizing solution was applied.
So there you go, the oak is now as black as a coal miners thumb and ready to be finished. The only bit that didn't come out black was a strip along one edge of the base and another along the lid. It is obviously something to do with the wood rather than the solution because they were cut from the same piece of wood. Anyway the strip that didn't come out black, came out a lovely shade of grey and it gives the wood a bit a character.

The next stage is to glue the base on and then do the inlay work on the lid. I am looking forward to that and, will hopefully, be able to show you the finished article in the near future