Sunday, 29 March 2015

Oak Box Continued

Hi All, Continuing with the oak box, I cut a piece of 1inch thick oak to match the size of the piece of 6mm oak that I had for the lid and then drew the shape of a box on it.
I then drilled a entry hole for the no9 blade I would be using and then cut out the centre of the box.
Cutting oak is harder than cutting pine, so make sure you have a sharp bladed fitted to the saw or you will get burn marks on your wood. The next thing I did was to give the box a good sandpapering. I started at 180 and then went through all the grades to 240. I could have gone to 400, but oak isn't the best wood in the world for a fine finish. I've never been much for flogging a dead horse so a slightly more rustic feel was okay with me.

With the box done, it was time to concentrate on the lid. I stuck my oak leaf design to the the piece of 6mm Baltic Birch plywood that I was using for the inlay and then Sellotaped that to the oak lid.

Next I did a few test cuts to make sure I got the right angle for the inlay and then I made a start. I drilled a hole at the end of the stalk for the blade, this was a place that would be easy to disguise and it saved me from having to cut a very tight corner. Talking about avoiding sharp corners, you will notice that the black cutting line on my design goes through the acorns, this is done to avoid what would be a very sharp corner between them. The acorns, when I have made them, actually cover that part of the design so it won't be seen.

All was going well until I had the first of two disasters. The fine blade I was using snapped when I was almost at the end of the cut. The air in my workshop turned purple as I let out a string of words that would make a trucker blush.

If a blade breaks when you are doing normal cutting it doesn't matter because you just go back to the blade entry hole and fit a new one. When you switch the saw on, the blade almost follows its own way back to the point of the breakage. However, this isn't the case with inlay work because the work is being cut at an angle, when the blade retraces it steps it will inevitably take off some more wood and the inlay will become a sloppy fit.

I decided the best course of action was to drill a new entry hole at the point of the breakage and disguise it as best as I could. Here is the lid with the inlay in position. If you look closely you can see the entry hole where I started at the end of the stalk and another about an inch before the end of the cut.
Now you may be curious about the gap in the centre. Well, that was the second disaster. Despite doing some trial cuts to get the angle right, I cocked up again and the inlay would not go flush into the wood. I pushed it in as hard as possible but it was still sticking out by about 1mm.  I was now fed up and about to chuck the whole thing in the wheelie, but I decided to take a deep breath and try and rescue it. I used some 120 grit sandpaper to remove a very small amount of wood from around the whole of the inlay and took a bit extra off from the curved area. By removing more wood from that area it gave me a chance to get the inlay to fit something like decently while knowing the gap would be covered by the acorns.

The next thing to do was the pyrography on the leaves and to carve the two acorns which will sit above the leaves. I will show you how I got on in my next post. Just a reminder, if you want to see any more of my work or find out about my books, here is the link to my website.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Oak Box

Hi All
A few weeks ago, I was walking around a shop that sells bric-a-brac and I found a small plank of 1inch thick oak. The price was only £2 so I dug deep into my pocket and purchased it. At that time I didn't know what I would do with it but I thought it would come in handy some day. Well, that day has arrived.

I decided that I would make a small, rustic box from the oak and inlay a couple of oak leaves into the lid. I also thought it would be nice to carve some acorns from wood and stick them on the top. Carving small acorns will be a first for me, so if you follow the rest of this project you will see how I get on.

The first thing I did was sketch the oak leaves that would form the inlay on the box lid. I did the sketch in some detail because it helps with the pyrography work later on. By this I am referring to the shading, which I doubt I would get right first time. If I just jumped in and did the shading with my pyrography iron it would be a disaster especially after I'd cut the inlay. So I sketched the leaves in pencil first and this gave me ample opportunity to practise the shading. Below is the finished sketch.
To produce this sketch there was a fair amount of erasing before I was happy with the composition and the shading. If you look closely at the left hand side you can see some shadow marks where I didn't erase some of the pencil marks properly.

Having produced the sketch my happiness was short lived when I realised that the wood I was going to use for the lid was only 4 inches wide, so my design was to big. The only thing I could do was start again and do a new design that would fit the lid better.
Now you may well be asking what the red dot at the top left hand side is for? That is where the blade entry hole will be drilled when I cut out the inlay. I have mention it before but just to reiterate, Scroll saws will cut sharp corners, but not as sharp as the corner on the end of the leaf stalk. So, by drilling a hole in that position I can cut all the way around the rest of the design without having to worry about sharp corners and end up back at the entry hole.

 You may have also noticed that there is a strange black line going through the acorns.This will be my cut line, and it saves me having to bother with the sharp angle between the two acorns. I can get away with this because I am going to carve two acorns out of wood and they will sit neatly above the curved line.

That's about it for this post, but in the next one the project will get underway and I will start cutting. In the meanwhile, if you want to see some more of my pyrography or scroll sawing work, or even find out about my books, including free offers, please pop over to my website.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Pyrography trinket pot

Hi all,
In my last post I mentioned the various reasons why people do craft work and one of them was to earn some money. Probably not stacks of money, but enough to a least pay for the material consumed by their past time. Some may make a bit more and I suppose it all comes down to a mixture of effort, skill and finding a product that people want to buy.

There has never been a better time for crafts people and artists to sell their work because it can be done over the Internet easily and cheaply. Of course, that brings more competition but if you can provide something unique that people like it is sure to be a decent seller.

I don't have time to make as much stuff as I would like too, and my wife always has first dibs on anything I produce, but every now and again I manage to put up something for sale in my on line shop on It is really easy to set up a shop and it only cost 15p to list an item for 3 months. There is a commission to pay when an item sells, but at only 6% it seems quite reasonable to me.

Anyway, if you have a pyrography iron and want to make something quickly that sells, here are the instruction for making this, "absolutely beautiful little trinket pot."
Those aren't my words, I took them from the review on Folksy that was left buy the purchaser of the last seed head trinket pot that I did some pyrography on. If you are interested in making one to sell or keep for yourself here is how to go about it.

Firstly, you will need a blank pot. These can be purchased from Wood work craft supplies for less than £2.00 each.

Step 1 The lid
Draw four curves on the top of the lid in a symmetrical pattern.

Then do the same around the sides of the pot. You should be able to fit six curves in.
Step 2
Using your pyrography iron, with a spoon tip if you have one, burn a small mark that will represent the seed. Then with the spoon tip inverted, burn the line that leads from the seed. Then, still using the pyrography iron spoon tip in the inverted position burn five short lines from the end of the line in a fan shape. I do the two outside ones first at about 45% and then burn another one in the centre. It is then easy to burn the last two lines between them. This needs to be done quickly on a medium heat setting. When making each burn, put your iron down onto the wood at the top end of the line and then move it away quickly thus making a burn mark that feathers away.
At this stage it looks a bit crude in places, but this project is a quick one and all will be well with the finished project. Once the sides are done it should look something like this.
Right, nearly finished already. With a small brush carefully paint the fluffy bits on the end of the seed heads. You can use acylics or watercolours, the only thing I'd say is this, if you use watercolours, make sure you use a spray varnish. If you use a brush-on type varnish the watercolour paint will come off very quickly.

I used some of my wife's watercolour paints on this pot and then sealed it with a spray varnish. I gave it two coats and it was done.
 My wife kindly put some felt on the bottom of the box and the whole thing was finished. In total, I would say that it took no more than fifteen minutes to create this little pot and I should be able to sell it for three times as much as I paid for the blank pot. I know it isn't going to make me a fortune, but the profit will go towards my next order of materials and that can't be bad.

I will put the box on Folksy in the next couple of days and see if anybody wants it.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Express Pyrography

Hi all,
Some of you may know that I've dabbled a bit in using polymer clay for inlay work to enhance my scroll sawing and pyrography. Well yesterday, I found myself browsing through the craft books section of Amazon and came across a title that made me smile. It was called "Fast Polymer Clay: Speedy Techniques For Crafters In A Hurry".

I couldn't help but grin when I saw the title, because to me, the whole thing about doing any sort of craft work is to take ones time and relax. I know people are in a hurry these days and want to get things done and out of the way, but surely true craft work shouldn't be like that.

But there again, I suppose it depends on what you are trying to achieve. If you are a greetings card maker and think crafting is all about sticking a square of material and a button on the front of a birthday card, then that's great if it makes you happy, but please don't send it to me. Thankfully, those who are apt to stick a twig or a pebble on the front of a card and hand it over like its something special will soon get bored with that bit of crafting and move onto something else.

Having given the issue of speed and crafting a little thought, I believe there are basically three types of crafters and artists.

Group  1
These people do a bit of crafting because they thing they should. They fit it in between making the beds and doing the school run. Getting quick results is the paramount objective of these crafters who also have a tendency to flit from craft to craft, often depending on what is fashionable at the time.

Group 2
These individuals are in no particular hurry, they concentrate in making items for their own enjoyment. The doing is often more enjoyable then the end result. This is particularly true of artists regardless of media. If you want proof, take a look at any gallery and see how many works of art fit the following scenario. "It looks very nice, it is well executed, but I certainly wouldn't want it on my wall".

Group  3
They love making things or creating works of art, but the following thoughts are always at the forefront of their minds, "Will it sell and how much for."

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not making judgements about crafters and artists, I'm just categorising them and me a bit. In reality, we all probably belong to more than one group. I've tended to be a half group 2 and half group 3 type of crafter, but I'm moving more and more towards group 2. I also expect those who are now firmly in group 1,will move towards groups 2 and 3 when time allows.

Anyway, my next project will be a short one that will, hopefully, satisfy those in any of the 3 groups mentioned. It is fast, rewarding in terms of aesthetics and it will sell. I will leave you with a photo of the object and I'll show you how easy it is to create in my next post.

By the way, if anybody is interested in providing a suitable home for the rose box from my last
project, I have just listed it in my Folksy shop for a reasonable price.