Friday, May 4, 2012

Smaller work...cont'd

I had the opportunity to snap more photos of the ongoing jewelry chest build. Test fitting is a large component in the process of creating these jewelry chests. There are numerous components that come together either in a mitered corner or a rabbeted corner. With this in mind, I make extensive use of shooting boards to trim these small components. The components consist mainly of drawer, compartment and tray dividers as well as the actual trays and drawers. Each of the pieces needs to be individually fitted after preliminary trimming. The interior of these chests is solid cherry and I make sure to use straight-grained rift sawn wood for the most part. I have been most successful with this cut of wood and find anything else tears and splinters easily. Since the tolerances are low in fitting these components... I like to have very clean cuts.

In the first photo I am test fitting the chest sides, front, back and top together. The sides have mitered and reinforced corners so absolute accuracy is a must. I also have the solid mahogany top inserted and trim this to allow for a consistent reveal between the chest and lid. Also, since the lid floats I pin it at the center allowing for equivalent movement. The band clamp I use is great for this purpose since it can be adjusted with one hand while I align the parts together. At this time the edges of the chest are square and will be next shaped and rounded over as part of the design. I have also designed and built chests similar to this with square edges and contrasting banding installed. So we can say this juncture is where this jewelry chest morphs into a rounded edge chest. Also important is to ensure that the chest remains square, that is opposing diagonals are exactly the same length. This is incredibly important since the interior component joinery accuracy hinges on the chest being absolutely square.

One of the next steps is to create and install the carved wenge handles. I have one handle for the lid and another for the lower drawer. Again, accuracy is kind of important in this step in that the handles need to be matched in shape and size as well as their position aligned along the front of the chest. Creating these wenge handles involves a considerable amount of hand shaping. I've been fairly successful with this jewelry chest design and I am glad to say it now spans three decades. I'll post a photo or two of the completed chests soon.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Smaller work...

I periodically receive requests for custom jewelry chests. These are designs I created a few years ago and have been fairly successful at making these over the years. Creating these jewelry chests allows me to work at a different, smaller scale. The jewelry chests are composed of many small parts which need to be assimilated together in a harmonious way. The small parts involve much fitting and I typically use a couple of shooting boards for this part. The shooting boards are set up on two different benches. One shooting board is set up for mitered work, the other for trimming ends of small parts.

Although these jewelry chests are small in comparison to full scale furniture, the time and effort involved in making these can often be greater due to the many different components involved. An analogy I like to use is that they are miniature pieces of furniture. I enjoy making these occasionally as it allows me to utilize different skills and techniques I don't often use for larger scale work. As an example, the fitting of the trays, and drawer. Although the parts are initially cut to size,there is detailed trimming necessary. The dimensions I use have been fairly standardized at this point but because many of the components are so small in scale, there is precision trimming to perform.

I'm currently working on a couple of these chests and they are at 75% completion in my opinion. I need to install carved wenge handles, line the inside of the lid and then begin the methodical finishing process. The complete process is an interesting one as everything takes shape within a few cubic inches. The best part of creating these is there is not very much wood involved and I can therefore focus on locating and purchasing high quality woods. These particular chests have a figured mahogany exterior , dark wenge handles and cherry interior.

In the first photo the raw mahogany can be seen with the deep, dark reddish brown colour it attains after prolonged exposure to light. This is the wood prior to preparation for the two jewelry chests. I have simply marked and cut pieces out for each of the chests as well as the solid mahogany tops. The photo directly above shows the two chests at 75% completion and the mahogany can be see to be much lighter. The colour darkens over time as does the colour of the cherry interior. I will post photos of the completed chests soon.