Saturday, January 26, 2013

Morado aka Bolivian Rosewood

     The focus of the emails I've been receiving from Etsy is for all of us sellers to gear up for and promote items that can be sold for Valentine's Day.  Hate to be so commercially oriented but with the lack furniture commissions need to find something to keep me in the shop and feed my wood addiction!  Etsy has proven to work towards that end so I really can't complain.  The other day I was in Peterman Lumber and they had a couple of 4' long pieces of a really interesting looking wood called Morado.  Here's a picture of where they look like at the end of today:

Valentine Presentation Boxes (unfinished)
    There's always a challenge trying to design something with a limited supply of wood and these were no different.  The wood has some beautiful coloration as you can see and will be finished with shellac and wax to emphasize that.  The lid on the box at the upper right is spalted on one edge which is pretty cool.  The wood comes from tropical South America, mainly southern Brazil and Bolivia.  As is common with some of these exotics there are a couple of other names it goes by, notably Pau Ferro, Caviuna, and Jacarenda.  It's pretty hard and it seems that there were a couple of interlocked streaks that simply refused to be smoothed by planing.  I was having a conversation with one of my students and he was wondering if there are just some pieces of wood that won't be tamed with a plane, no matter how carefully it's set up and how sharp the blade is honed.  Well, after tackling this particular piece of wood I think he may be right!  Another thing we discussed is how making small items like these boxes seems to be just as time consuming as larger items like cabinets, chairs, or tables.  Makes it somewhat difficult to price projects like this according to the time spent.  Much easier to charge more for an item when it's a large size.
     Keeping time and eventual cost in mind I wanted to be as efficient as possible in making them.  Simple construction of mitered corners and a solid bottom that could be assembled using only glue and packaging tape.

Glued and Taped Together 
     Although it takes a bit of time, each of the inside corners were protected from glue ooze out with a small piece of tape.  What makes this kind of construction appealing is being able to have the grain continue all the way around the box.  Three of the four corners will be a perfect match, the remaining one is usually okay.  I tried a different way (for me anyway) to keep track of the pieces, let me explain it to you.
     It's incredibly easy to flip a piece upside down or end for end and at first glance the grain seems to be aligned.  These boxes are pretty small so what I did was to put a piece of tape the entire length of the board.  Next up was to cut the miters using a sled on my tablesaw.  As I cut each piece I marked both sides of it with a sharpie right on the tape. It's also critical that opposing pieces are exactly the same length if you want the final box to be square.
     Step One:  After cutting a 45 on one end I use a quick piece of scrap wood as a stop block.  It's placed between the rip fence and the end of the short piece.  Hold the wood tight, remove the stop block and make the cut.

First Short Side
     Step Two:  Flip the piece over and trim just enough of it to create the next 45 degree end.

45 Degree cut the Right Direction
     Step Three:  Use another scrap piece to cut the long piece and cut it.

Making the Long Side
     This system is an easy way to make mitered boxes.  Since I'm designing them based on the amount of material I have the lengths don't need to be exact.  The stop blocks are just pieces of scrap but they  ensure that opposing ends are the same length and the boxes will turn out square.  After all pieces were cut, the bottom of each one had an 1/8" wide slot cut into it for a Masonite bottom that will be lined with ultra suede.  With the tape protecting the inside from any squeeze out it's a fairly quick and efficient way to make a box.

No comments:

Post a Comment