S: The Boxes of Jeff Baenen 2005-2012
FC: The Boxes of Jeff Baenen | 2005-2012
1: So why boxes? That is a question I hear more often than one would think. Luckily, I have never had a problem answering that question ever since I created my first box seven years ago. I was instantly hooked. I researched and collected any information I could find on box making, from Egyptian times to the present. I follow the inspiring works of notable box makers such as Peter Lloyd, Andrew Crawford and Phil Weber. I have a collection of books on the subject that will soon require me to purchase a larger home. | Featured Boxes: -Ripple -For Kjaerlighet -Conjoined -Fit for a Queen -Collinear -Firefly -Faster -My Nightmares and Dreams -Nine Lives -Ashes to Ashes, Sawdust to Sawdust -Talon -Dorsal -Smells Fishy -For Frank -Horizon Line -Pinch Point -Box of Chocolates -Haven -Buddha -Aspire -Eye of the Beholder -Home is where the Hearth is -The Rising -My Tell-Tale Heart -Fault Line -Spiker -Hey Good Looking -Guy Fieri Spoon (Spoon) -Manta (Table) **Accomplishments listed on last page | Raw material in Door County, WI. | So the answer to why boxes? Well, that is a question that has multiple answers. To me, boxes are an extremely personal container. We use them to hold our history, secrets, and memories. They are time capsules to our families that can be handed down from generation to generation. They are a sculptural art form that can be created to reflect emotion, movement, or a point in time. They are an art form that is crafted using some of the most spectacular material that only Mother Nature could provide. These are the reasons I fell in love with box making. What you are holding in your hands is the collected works of my first seven years as a box maker. They are a combination of both commissioned and speculative pieces whose creation has given me the outlet for what is in my head. I feel truly blessed that I can chronicle a chapter of my life in these pages. Now I can start on the next chapter. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have enjoyed making them. | I would like to thank my family and friends for their continued support. A special thank you to Joel Alonzo and Jacy Neises for taking these beautiful pictures you see before you. -Jeff Baenen
2: The inspiration for Ripple came from my younger years of growing up in a small town along the shores of Green Bay in Wisconsin. Every Sunday in summer was spent at Grandma and Grandpa’s house swimming or fishing (and building the occasional rubber band gun or sword with my Grandpa). I was amazed by the ripple of the water caused by either a skipping stone or an oncoming rain storm. I wanted to capture this fluid movement in Ripple. The lid obviously portrays the rippling water, and the base is the windswept sandy shore. The body of Ripple is made from 2” thick maple. It is fastened together using mortise and tenon joinery with walnut dowels to further strengthen the joint and add contrast. Knowing that I was going to shape the box, I wanted the dowels because their final shape would be more oval than round and, therefore, closer to a water drop shape. The grain of the maple was positioned to create an undulating pattern. It gives a nice flowing pattern around the entire box. The sides were all cut with a 10-degree slope. This creates a smooth transition between the concave and convex cuts and emphasizes the top lid. | The top of the body is veneered with pommele sapele, because of its beautiful waterfall grain, and dyed black maple veneer. The inner divider is made from spalted maple with a highly pronounced swirling spalt/grain. It started as a standard rectangle, but then I carved it into an undulating wave pattern that I further refined using a spindle sander and rasps. I added a small chamfer to the top edges to create a subtle shadow line between the base and lid. The interior is lined with shimmering blue padded taffeta fabric. The top lid is made from curly maple. I studied water ripples and lined the work area around the lathe with pictures of them. It all started from a 1.06” thick piece of wood. The water drop was turned separately with a tenon and glued into position. I used General Finishes water-based blue stain dye. The top lid also shares the same 10-degree slope as the body. This gives a clean transition from the body to the lid and almost makes it look as if the water will spill over the edge. Ripple is 10” in diameter and approximately 3.5” tall, not counting the water drop. It is finished with four coats of Danish oil followed by two buffings of wax. | "RIPPLE"
4: For Kjaerlighet, which means “For Love” in Norwegian, was a commissioned piece for a friend's wife. I thought it should be named for the same reason it was being crafted. It is my representation of a classic Norwegian Tine box. The main body is made from a piece of curly cherry. The grain wraps continuously around the entire box. The carved design on the front of the box represents the way the steam bent wood overlapped itself on traditional boxes. To represent how these overlapping pieces were sewn together, self-made 1/8” diameter black walnut dowels were used in a crisscross pattern at the corners of the box. The main body of the slide-out drawer is made from curly maple. The drawer slides on maple runners that are slot jointed into the inside of the main body. The front is, of course, part of the same piece of wood as the front of the box. The legs are made from quartersawn curly black walnut. Original Tine boxes would sometimes have animal shaped carvings at the ends of the boxes that acted as the locking method and legs. The swan legs are my representation of those. The lid is made up of a bookmatched piece of quartersawn black walnut, curly cherry, and the top carving is a piece of black walnut crotch. The curves around the perimeter of the black walnut lid are traditional to what was on the original Tine boxes. All the curves were done with a block plane. The curly cherry oval insert represents the original oval shape of a Tine box. Actually, it is a floating panel in the lid. The top carving was done using a compound cut on the scroll saw followed by power carving and rasps. This design is reminiscent of the crowning designs on traditional Tine boxes as is the overhang of the lid from the box body. The interior tray is made from curly maple. The divider inside was designed to split the interior of the tray into the shape of the flag of Norway. The divider in the bottom of the main box compartment is made from quartersawn black walnut. The small cover is made from spalted maple and stays hidden under the tray. All of the removable dividers were made from quartersawn sycamore. The box is lined throughout with red velvet. The finish is three soakings of Danish oil followed by two buffings of wax. It is roughly 17” x 9” x 11.” | “For Kjaerlighet”
6: Conjoined started life as a promise I made to my budding artist niece. I had gotten her a set of pencils for drawing and promised to make her a box to hold them. Now I know it is not the classic design for a pencil box, but it is my take on the subject. My main design goal was to create a box that, when at first glance, looked easy to make. Then, upon closer scrutiny, one could start to understand the difficulty in making it. There was definitely a step-by-step procedure. The look I was going for was that of a warped/curved piece of wood. I wanted all aspects of the box to follow the same curvature. The main body of the box is made from quartersawn shedua. A box joint was used for the construction. The main portion of the lid is made from curly shedua. The handle supports/dowels are quartersawn shedua turned down on the lathe. The handle is made from birdseye maple. It was made by a series of compound cuts on a bandsaw followed by a lot of hand shaping. The finish on Conjoined is fours soakings of Danish oil followed by two buffings of wax. It is lined with cork. Conjoined is 9.75" x 4" x 3.25." | "CONJOINED"
7: "Fit for a Queen" | Fit for a Queen started as a design study. The body of the box is roughly 2.5” x 2.5,” so it is a fairly small box. The final shape dictated the name. I thought it resembled the shape of a royal carriage. The body has a maple stripe and a padauk plug inlaid into it. I believe the touch of chrome worked well in this design. The finish is a boiled linseed oil/spar varnish/mineral spirits mixture followed by two buffings of wax. Lid – purpleheart Legs – Bolivian rosewood and curly maple Body -leopardwood, curly maple, and padauk
8: "Collinear" | ...... started off as a dead maple tree standing in my parent's back yard. My dad and I talked about cutting it down and having it cut into lumber, which would be a first for us. I cut the branch pieces into a manageable size, took them home with me, cut them into slabs, and then began the two-year drying process. The wait was worth it to me. After taking a piece of maple and bookmatching it, I fell in love. Collinear was designed shortly after that. The main body of the box was made by gluing up panels of claro walnut, a 1/8” strip of ebony, and curly maple. I love the contrast between the walnut and the curly maple. I wanted to emphasize the contrast even more by using gaboon ebony. I wanted the support to be “airy” so it would not overpower the three boxes. I reinforced all notched joints with contrasting dowels. Drawer construction is blind dovetail. The drawers slide on wooden runners that are built into the box bodies. I did not want to take away from the bookmatched fronts so I designed the ebony pulls to accentuate the bookmatching. Collinear is finished with varnish oil. After curing, it received two good buffings of wax. Collinear is 26.5” long. Main bodies: claro walnut, curly maple, birdseye maple, and gaboon ebony Support for Bodies: curly maple, birdseye maple, wenge, Bolivian rosewood, and padauk & maple dowels Drawers: bookmatched spalted maple fronts, gaboon ebony, maple main construction, and Baltic birch bottoms.
10: "Firefly" | Firefly was designed for a Gorilla Glue design competition where one had to construct a project using nothing but scraps. The body of Firefly is made from two scraps of crotch walnut that is put together using blind dovetails. The back panel is quilted maple, and there are quartersawn maple runners, to support the drawer, inlaid into it. The legs were made by resawing curly maple into three pieces: two 3/8” pieces and one 3/32” piece. They were sanded smooth and then glued back together using pieces of black-dyed veneer to separate them. Once dry, I cut them into their rough shape. After that, I added a taper to the legs and did the final shaping. The legs were attached to the box using a dowel joint. The drawer is mainly constructed of quartersawn spalted maple. I used blind dovetails for the joinery. I matched the grain up so it looks as if it wraps around the entire inside of the drawer. There is a groove on both sides of the drawer that act as slides for the drawer runners. The face of the drawer is another piece of quilted maple. The pull is made from the leg scrap. The lid is a piece of Honduran rosewood. I used walnut cutoffs to make four lid supports. The box is lined with leather. I placed pulls on the front and the back of Firefly to make it more sculptural by having a full 360-degree view. It is approximately 9.25” x 4.75” x 4.75." The finish is Danish oil and two buffings of wax.
11: Faster started as a need for a simpler box that still closely followed a design aspect. It is the first in a series of boxes based on SPEED. | "FASTER" | The Faster boxes where finished with four soakings of Danish oil followed by a three-step polish using the Beall polishing system. They are lined in black velvet and are 3.75” x 3” x 4.75” in size. | The body is made from East Indian rosewood. I used a rabbet joint to form the box. I then put a 45-degree chamfer to blend in the joint. The grain wraps around the box for continuity. I made four boxes with a quartersawn sycamore lid and two with a birdseye maple lid. The top pull is made from quartersawn walnut and is held in place with an internal spline.
12: "My Nightmares and Dreams" | If I was going to have a signature box design My Nightmares and Dreams would be that box. I had visions of a box that was suspended by its legs and had a feeling of "being alive." I also wanted a box that could be viewed from all angles and whose design transformed it into functional sculpture. After four months of heavy design and build time, My Nightmares and Dreams came into existence.
13: The main body of the box is constructed of quilted maple and is box jointed along its length. The joints are accented with wenge inlays. There is a small zebrawood drawer stop inside the main body. The top of the box is embellished with a tribal design made of bocote with gaboon ebony inlays. The legs are made from curly maple and figured bubinga. They are doweled and have internal splines where they meet. The top finial is turned out of African blackwood. The drawers are made from African mahogany and padauk using a double blind dovetail. The fronts of the drawers are constructed of Santos rosewood, purpleheart, and gaboon ebony with Bolivian rosewood pulls. The drawers are lined in black, alligator print leather. The pullout trays are constructed of curly birch with claro walnut dividers and pulls. The trays are lined in black, alligator print leather. It received a finish consisting of three coats of a hand-rubbed boiled linsed oil/min spirit/varnish mixture followed by two buffings of wax. The dimensions for My Nightmares and Dreams are 11” x 11” x 13.”
14: A close friend asked me to design and build an urn to house a cherished family pet. His wife's cat had passed on after many years of sitting by her side. She wanted an elegant home for her for the rest of her lives. Of course I agreed, and the design of Nine Lives shortly followed. Nine Lives was the first urn I created. Being that the urn was for a cat, I knew it had to have a slight Egyptian arc style since cats were worshiped there in ancient times. I wanted it to have graceful curves and slim legs. There was to be no handle on the urn since one only needs to get into it one time. I designed an internal, spring-loaded lift for the lid. There is a hidden button protruding from the bottom of the box, when you push it, a corner of the lid is pushed up. The main body of the box is constructed of curly maple. There is a 1/16” thick band of gaboon ebony, and the top rim portion is bubinga. The legs are Bolivian rosewood. A folding miter joint was used so the grain would wrap around the corner. The legs are also tapered 5/32” from top to bottom. The lid is a piece of beautiful crotch walnut. This has to be one of my favorite pieces of wood to work with. It machines like butter, and once you put oil on it, the figure just blows up. I did a pattern of nine round inlays, eight spalted maple and one gaboon ebony. I designed it to be an “LED” life meter. The meter shows that her cat has just gotten to her fifth life and has many more to go. Nine Lives was finished with multiple coatings of an equal mixture of boiled linseed oil, mineral spirits, and spar varnish. After drying, Nine Lives got two buffings of wax. It is approximately 9” x 6.5” x 5.375.” | "Nine Lives"
15: Ashes to Ashes, Sawdust to Sawdust is a box that is extremely dear to my heart. If one could not tell from the name, it is an urn. It houses the ashes of my Uncle Karl and Aunt Margie, two incredible people that are missed every day. My uncle and I shared a passion for woodworking and was, therefore, an honor to design and build the urn. The main woods used in the urn are curly cherry and walnut; they were the woods mostly used by my uncle. The stripe going around the urn is Bolivian rosewood and padauk. The splines are also padauk. The legs are curly maple and cocobolo. They are angled to accentuate the angles of the urn. The lid is made from a figured piece of walnut that I cut into three, reversed the middle section, added thin cherry pieces, and glued back together. Reversing the middle piece changed the “light and dark” aspects of the walnut such that it pulls one's eyes over the curve of the lid. The spire on the lid is made from bubinga. It was cut using a compound cut technique on a scroll saw. My uncle loved making the 3D reindeer on his scroll saw and bandsaw. | "Ashes to Ashes, Sawdust to Sawdust" | I lined the interior of the urn with 220 sandpaper so he would feel at home. Finish is a BLO/varnish/mineral spirits wipe and then waxed. The entire design of the urn was based on my interpretation of an Egyptian arc. Ashes to Ashes, Sawdust to Sawdust is 12.5” x 9.5” x 8.5.”
16: "TALON" | It is hard to pick a starting point to talk about Talon. It is a men's jewelry box whose design inspiration came from that of a Griffin. For all that do not know, a Griffin is a mythical animal that is half eagle and half lion. The body of Talon is constructed of wenge. While still in its square form, I placed all of the handmade maple dowels, milled the pockets for the back hinge plates, and milled the pockets for the feet. The feet are made from birdseye maple with a piece of rosewood veneer separating them. The rosewood veneer draws the eye all the way to the tip of the foot. The main part of the lid is also made from wenge. I used a sliding dovetail joint to construct it. The floating panel was made from a glue-up of birdseye maple. The beak is made from a piece of birdseye maple. The nostrils are handmade 1/8” gaboon ebony dowels.
17: The hinges are carved out of birdseye maple. The talons are made from gaboon ebony and are attached using a 0.093” brass rod and epoxy. Each talon started on a scroll saw and was then hand carved to fit the individual “toes.” I used a removable dowel pin for the hinge pivot with gaboon ebony end plugs to hide them. The trays and cufflink area are made from quartersawn sycamore. The trays where constructed using a box joint, and every single divider has two dowel pins strengthening the joints. The middle tray has a covered area with a lid made from leopardwood. The holes to grab it were carved to look like an eagle talon had scraped and pierced down into it. All trays are lined with a blue/gray suede fabric. The overall dimensions of Talon are 14” x 13.25” 10.25.” Finish is Danish oil, wax, and also the Beall three-step polishing system on the talons.
18: Dorsal was designed at the same time as Conjoined. Like Conjoined, I wanted all aspects of the box to follow the same curvature. The body of the box was also constructed the same with a bent/warped look to it. The dorsal fin design comes from years of growing up next to the water in Door County. The main body of the box is made from quartersawn shedua. A box joint was used for the construction. The main portion of the lid is made from curly shedua. The handle supports/dowels are quartersawn shedua turned down on the lathe. The handle is made from two pieces of curly maple with a piece of black veneer in between. It was made by a series of compound cuts on a bandsaw followed by rough shaping on a belt and oscillating spindle sander. After that, it was time for the rasp and final shaping/sanding. Finish on Dorsal is four soakings of Danish oil followed by two buffings of wax. It is lined in cork. It is roughly 10” x 4” x 4.75.” | "D" O R S A L
19: "Smells Fishy" | Smells Fishy started with doing sketches using an array of circles and tangent lines. When finished with all the initial cuts, I noticed the shapes reminded me of something ... and the name Smells Fishy shortly followed. The body is made up of glued-up bubinga and birdseye maple; three pieces of bubinga and one piece of maple. Before cutting out the main shapes, I routed two 1/4” diameter grooves down the entire back to hold dowels that would act as drawer stops. Then, came the initial cutting of the drawers. Once finished cutting out the shapes and naming the box, I started on the design of the drawer pulls. Of course, they would be small fish shapes. They were made from bocote. The drawers are lined with suede-tex flocking. Body/drawers: birdseye maple, bubinga, bocote, maple dowels The finish consisted of three soakings of a boiled linseed oil/varnish/mineral spirits wipe and then two buffings of wax. Smells Fishy is 6.5” x 3” x 9.5.”
20: I was extremely lucky to have toured Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin in Spring Green, Wisconsin. While on the tour of the main house, I noticed a unique box sitting on one of the tables and asked the tour guide about it. She said it was made for Frank Lloyd Wright, by one of his students, to hold the architectural medals he had won. Now this was a fairly simple looking box, that did not have a lid or any finish on it, but I loved it and was inspired to design For Frank. | "For Frank"
21: The five lift off boxes and the base in For Frank are made from black walnut with a black walnut dowel used to strengthen the mitered joint . The large horizontal portions are made from bookmatched, quartersawn white oak. I designed a way to allow these portions to float using a groove in the box and a spline to capture the panel. The square holes where first cut with a mortiser and then softened using rasps and varying grits of sandpaper. The vertical inlays are made from quartersawn bocote and African blackwood. The grain of the bocote is continuous all the way up the box. The base of the lid is made from quartersawn white oak. The top adornment is made from bloodwood, wenge, and curly maple. I designed the pattern myself. Frank admired Japanese architecture so the large red “sun” worked nicely. Dimensions were related mathematically to make everything complement itself. | There is no stain on the box. All of the quartersawn white oak pieces were fumed using a homemade chamber and 26% ammonia. After 28 hours of fuming, they were attached to the box sections and the entire box got three coats of clear Danish oil with 0000 steel wool between coats. After drying, it was buffed twice with wax. The boxes are lined with a Cherokee red fabric, which was Frank Lloyd Wright's favorite color. For Frank is 10” x 10” x 17.5."
22: "Horizon Line" | The inspiration for Horizon Line came from a single piece of curly maple. After bookmatching the curly maple, I realized it looked like the horizon line during a Lake Michigan sunset. I glued up the panel using a piece of padauk to act as the distinct line, and that became the center lid portion. After framing it with a spalted maple frame, I used a sliding dovetail joint to mate the panel to the thick, curved padauk end. The main portion of the box is made from spalted maple and uses through dovetail joints. It is capped on the top and bottom with padauk. There is also a dadoed-in ledge of padauk for the drawer to rest/slide on. The legs are a sandwich of bubinga and curly maple. The bubinga in the middle is flanked by two pieces of curly maple. The drawer is made from curly maple and uses box joint construction. The finish started with an Early American maple dye. When that was dry, I soaked the entire thing in boiled linseed oil and sanded it, while wet, with 220 sandpaper. Once dry, I wiped the box with a 2 lb. cut of orange shellac. Next, three hand-rubbed coats of oil varnish were applied followed by two buffings of wax. Horizon Line is roughly 17” x 11” x 8.5” in size.
23: "Pinch Point" | While working on larger boxes, I like to squeeze in smaller boxes whose designs constantly bounce around in my head. Pinch Point was one of those. The main idea of the design was to have a lift off lid that was turned and held in place by just two points. I made one box with a figured Asian satin wood lid and two with an East Indian rosewood lid. The bodies are constructed from curly maple with handmade black walnut dowels. The legs are constructed of quartersawn black walnut. Pinch Point is 5.375” x 3.5” x 5.625.” It was finished with three soakings of Danish oil followed by two buffings of wax. The lids were buffed out using a Beall Buffing System. Pinch Point has inspired a series of boxes using the main design aspect of a turned, lift off lid.
24: " Box of Chocolates" | Box of Chocolates was designed to showcase the beautiful raw material Mother Nature graced us with ... wood. It took over 400 hours in a six month period to design and build. It is made up of over 450 pieces. It is 21” x 15” x 12.” The main body portion is made out of quartersawn spalted sycamore with African blackwood splines. The grain of the sycamore wraps around the box. It has been carved to give it the texture of hand-dipped chocolate. The main lid portions are ziricote. It has a floating frame made from canary wood, and the center panel is a bookmatched piece of figured ash. Splines in the lid are made from a stack up of maple and African blackwood. Concave cuts in the lid and base represent the overtightening of an imaginary ribbon. | Hinges are constructed of quartersawn cocobolo and have 95-degree stops designed into them. The finials and plugs are gaboon ebony. The spacer is African blackwood. The base of Box of Chocolates is constructed of ziricote. The legs are shedua and made using a miter fold joint. Padauk dowels are used to further strengthen leg mounting. With the lid open, one can see the 24 “Chocolates” inside. The “Chocolates” are 2.5” square boxes made from spalted maple. The grain runs around the entire box, and they are all box jointed. Each lid is made from a different type of wood and contains a unique carving or design. The different lid woods are wenge, jatoba, East Indian rosewood, cocobolo, purpleheart, padauk, redheart, bloodwood, birdseye maple, spalted maple, curly maple, African mahogany, Bolivian rosewood, American holly, bubinga, Honduran rosewood, zebrawood, leopardwood, osage orange, canarywood, bocote, chechen, yellowheart, and claro walnut. The “Chocolates” are flush to the top of the divider. To remove them, one reaches under the main box and slides one of three lifting mechanism handles towards oneself. Eight boxes will rise out of the main box per lifting mechanism. The divider that separates them is made from African mahogany and was made using sliding dovetail joints. Koa butterflies have been inserted into the lid. The straight down overhead view shows the “layers:" “Chocolates” on the left, lifting trays in the middle, and a view of the lifting dowels on the right. The “Chocolates” sit on trays made from spalted maple. The trays are lifted by the lifting dowels. The idea is that when you remove a “Chocolate” you see a tray and not a dowel. The “Chocolates” and trays are lined with a chocolate-colored fabric.
25: There is one picture that shows the body of the box removed giving a clear view of the three lifting mechanisms in different states. They are made from quartersawn spalted maple, cherry, and oak. A tenon was turned onto the ends of all dowels to guarantee straightness when mounted. They fit into a blind round mortise. On the left, I show the lifting dowel plate removed. The middle shows the mechanism in a lowered position. The far right shows the mechanism in a lifted position. Position stops were designed into the cams so one cannot engage or disengage them too far. They are actuated by sliding a Bolivian rosewood handle under the box. All the mechanism hardware, except for the handles, was finished with a hand-rubbed polyurethane finish for durability. The remaining pieces of the box where sanded with 400 grit and finished with four coats of Danish oil followed by two buffings of wax.
26: "Haven" | Even when I am in the middle of one box build, my mind is going crazy with other box designs. I use the “down” time (glue drying, finish drying, etc.) on the big builds to work on smaller boxes. Haven is a result of this. I wanted to design a box that was contained within its legs but yet an integral part of the overall box. I played with the main shape and the negative space for a while to come up with a design I liked. The main body is made from quartersawn black walnut. All edges are wenge. I built a sled that held the main body at a 45-degree angle to the table saw. I then ran it through the table saw cutting away all but 1/16” of the miter joint. I then glued in a 1/8” thick piece of wenge. Once dry, I sanded it flat and lined the top and bottom with wenge. Creating the curved shape was the next step. The legs are made from curly maple. I used a 45-degree chamfer bit to chamfer both edges on one side of a board making a 45-degree finished angle. I did this to four pieces, and when attached together, they make the ”+” shape one sees. I also cut spline areas into the 45-degree finished angles and used small wood splines to reinforce the joint. All four legs actually have a tapered/knife shape to them. | The top is made from leopardwood and curly maple. The spike is made from gluing a solid brass rod into a copper tube. I then chucked it in a drill and spun it on a progression of metal files. When I reached the shape I wanted, I started using sandpaper to smooth it all out, and the final step was polishing. The inside dimension of Haven is 2.375” x 2.375” x 2.375.” The overall outside dimensions are 7.5” x 7.5” x 7.25.” Finish is four soakings of Danish oil followed by two buffings of wax. Lining is fabric.
27: "Buddha" | Buddha is a smaller box designed to study shapes, wood contrast, and try some different techniques. There are internal splines that aid in the attachment of the legs. The legs also taper from 0.5" to 0.25" at their base. The lid is made from bubinga, curly maple, gaboon ebony, and zebrawood. The body is made from curly maple, with contrasting Bolivian rosewood splines to strengthen the miter joint. The large legs are made from bocote, and the small stabilizing legs are made from padauk. In the end, the shape reminded me of a fat, jolly Buddha with his arms raised in the air ... thus the name. Finish is a boiled linseed oil/spar varnish/mineral spirits mixture followed by two buffings of wax. Buddha is roughly 5" x 3.5" x 5.5."
28: "Aspire" | The design for Aspire was spawned from the strong feelings I had following a public art exhibit in which I had participated. It was such an incredible night of art and community; I knew I wanted to capture some of that energy in a new piece ... the design work for Aspire shortly followed. It is meant to pull your view up and up as would aspirations in your own life. Starting from a central starting point of awareness, our aspirations will grow and make us who we are today and who we want to be in the future. The main body was constructed of quartersawn curly black walnut using a rabbet joint. The joint is further enforced using (20) 3/16” diameter handmade gaboon ebony dowels. Once together, I cut the 10” radius top and bottom. | 1/8” pieces of crotch walnut where put into the box to support the tray. I made a frame from quartersawn black walnut that inserted into the bottom of the box. This created a flat on the bottom. I made a fixture and used a 60-degree sign-making bit to route the shallow “rays” into the box sides. The center of the “rays” is actually the center of the 10” radius on the lid. There is a large rabbet for the lid to fit.
29: The base is constructed of black walnut. It was roughly cut to size and then veneered in a man-made black & white ebony veneer. The base was designed to leave a 1/8” shadow line when the body of the box was sitting in it. The tray is made from curly maple using the same rabbet joint design. The 10” radius cut was put in, and then, I started forming the handle. The handle also has a 10” radius. I soaked a piece of curly maple in water and then placed it into a clamp to let it dry with a curve. Next, I cut off a piece, sandwiched it between two pieces of rosewood veneer, and then clamped it into a fixture to dry. All radii were formed from rasps and files. The handle portion has two 1/8” diameter hand-made maple dowels used for attachment. All joints on the tray where reinforced with 1/8” diameter hand-made black walnut dowels. The lid started life as a 2” thick piece of curly maple. It was cut into four pieces and a thin piece of black maple veneer was glued in place. The veneer matches up perfectly with the “rays” in the box body. After getting the rough lid to fit into the box, I made a hardboard guide to cut the 10” radius into the lid and body. Once that was cut, I marked where the 10” radius was on the body and where the 1.5” circle of the spire would be. I then started the shaping of the top using a rotary carving tool and cabinet rasps. The base of the spire was turned out of black & white ebony. The spire started life as two equal pieces of quartersawn black walnut with a thin piece of black maple veneer between them. The base of the spire was turned on the lathe, and the rest was formed using compound cuts on the bandsaw, guide hole on the drill press, and then shaping with the rotary carving tool and rasps. Woods used are quartersawn curly black walnut, crotch black walnut, curly maple, black & white ebony, gaboon ebony, rosewood, man-made black & white ebony veneer and black-dyed maple veneer. Finish is four soakings of Danish oil followed by two buffings of wax. Overall dimensions are 8.8” x 5.5” x 13.4.”
30: "Eye of the Beholder" | Eye of the Beholder was designed for my girlfriend as a Christmas gift. The main design aspect of the box was the use of small, round mirrors to reflect views of the “holder” of the box ... we all know the full saying. I made shallow counterbored holes to inlay the mirrors into the box components. In some cases, I had to use wet/dry paper to shape the mirrors. The body of the box will lift off the base to expose a hidden compartment. The legs are doweled into the base. The spalted maple “handle” is dovetailed into the top lid, and another dovetail cut was used on it to create a grip position. Woods used are claro walnut, curly maple, spalted maple, bubinga, gaboon ebony, curly birch, padauk, and Bolivian rosewood. The finish is a boiled linseed oil/varnish/mineral spirits mix. Lastly, it was hand buffed with wax. Eye of the Beholder is 7.25” x 7.25” x 6.75."
31: "Home is where the Hearth is" | The design of Home is where the Hearth is was greatly inspired by the “knickknacks” done by woodworking great Hank Gilpin. They were absolutely beautiful. For a long time, I have wanted to make a tray to hold the one thing that makes it possible for me to create my pieces ... my house keys. Without those, I would not have a shop. Two birch logs were in the fireplace of my house when I purchased it. I put them aside in my basement knowing at some point in time I wanted to use them in a piece. So there they sat for eight years until this design popped into my head. The main body of Home is where the Hearth is was carved from a 2” thick slab of one of the birch logs. After cutting it into a slab, I found the birch was actually slightly spalted. There was beautiful figure where a branch had grown, which when cutting to length, I strategically positioned to end up in the deep carving of the tray. I used a combination of a rotary carving tool, hand chisels, and cabinet scrapers to give it the look you see. The legs were made from figured bubinga. The legs are held onto the tray with quartersawn sycamore. I used a sliding dovetail joint to attach the sycamore pieces to the bubinga legs. The sycamore is doweled into the birch. Home is where the Hearth is was finished with countless soakings of Danish oil with two final buffings of wax. It is approximately 16” x 4” x 4.”
32: "The Rising" | The Rising is the box that started my love for box making. It was the first box I made. A friend told me he wanted a box to hold his wife's family bible. It was to be a surprise gift. Instantly, my mind started filling with ideas and the design process for The Rising started right there on the spot. The size of the family bible had a huge impact on how the box would be designed. I think it was somewhere around 14”x 10” x 4.” Being of such large size, I did not want to have a person reach into the box to pull out the bible or pick up the box and dump the bible out. To solve this, I designed a lifting mechanism that would allow the bible to “rise” out of the box by rotating two cam arms. In the down state, the mechanism is only 0.75” thick. When actuated, it will raise the bible 3.5” out of the box ... easy to just grab with your hands. The mechanism is hidden under the lifting board to give the interior a clean look. Padauk runners, in the box sides, keep the lifting board running straight up and down. The main components to the box are made with curly maple and padauk. Double blind dovetails were used on the box corners. The floating panel in the lid contains a cross shape made with a v-cut router bit. The lifting mechanism was made from oak. For longevity, the pins are wood dowels, and nylon flange bearings were used so there would not be any wood-on-wood friction. The overall design of the exterior of The Rising was to have a very solid, heavy shape. I wanted people to look at it and know they were not supposed to pick it up. The finish on The Rising is tung oil followed by two buffings of wax. Dimensions are 16” x 16” x 8.”
34: "My Tell-Tale Heart" | box series was designed and created to celebrate my brother's wedding. They got married on Halloween which was a big influence on the design. Taken from one the most famous pieces of Gothic literature, The Tell-Tale Heart by Edger Allan Poe, I translated the beating of the heart in the floor boards to the sounds of their hearts beating for each other. I represented the heart beating with Morse Code. Looking at the boxes, one will see there are four separate stands, each containing a different style of box. The four styles represent the word “LOVE” spelled out in Morse Code: L (.-..) O (---) V (...-) E (.). The main bodies of the “L” boxes are made from East Indian rosewood. The lid has a floating panel of quilted maple, and all the edges are lined in curly maple. The grain of the rosewood is continuous around the box. The “O” boxes are made from quartersawn sycamore and bocote. I used a mortise and tenon joint along with handmade 1/8” ebony dowels to make it. The lids are held in place using brass pins. They were shaped using a drill press, bandsaw, oscillating spindle sander, and hand rasps. The main bodies of the “V” boxes are made from curly maple, using a miter joint. Black walnut splines where used to strengthen the joints. The lids are made from ziricote, and the curly maple handles were turned on the lathe. The “E” box is made from a lamination of wenge/bloodwood/wenge and miter joints. The lid is made from wenge. All the bases are made from black walnut. After constructing the bases, they were ebonized using a steel wool/vinegar mixture. The angle cut sides were then textured using a 3/8” router bit on a rotary carving tool. They were then stained with a dark reddish mahogany stain which made the carved areas become a mixture of dark red and black. All the stands are lined in red velvet to emphasize the Morse code. All the boxes are lined in black velvet. The DOT boxes are 2.5” x 2.5” x 2.5,” and the DASH boxes are 5” x 2.5” x 2.5.” The boxes and stands all received 3 soakings of Danish oil. The boxes where polished using a Beall system, and a liquid wax was applied to the bases.
35: "Fault Line" | I had two, bookmatched pieces of spalted, live edge maple left over from another box build that I just did not have the heart to discard. I could tell they were destined to be a new box. After some thought, the design started falling into place. By cutting each piece in half, I would be able to "fold" the wood around a miter joint so that it would look like the spalt line wrapped around the corners of the box. The live edge just enhanced the beauty. The legs were made from black walnut. They started life on a router table and were then shaped on the bandsaw and oscillating spindle sander. The lid is leopardwood with a finial made from Bolivian rosewood and curly maple. Once again, the final outcome dictated the name. With the highly prominent spalt line and the live edge, the name just seemed to fit. Nature's beautiful disaster. The finish on Fault Line is varnish oil buffed with wax. Fault Line is 2.625" x 2.625" x 7.5."
36: "Spiker" | So I thought to myself ... why not do a design where the splines support the legs? It seemed a little uncommon, but I knew I could make it work ... and the design work for Spiker began. To make it even more of a challenge, I made the shape of the box taper upwards. By doing this, each of the three splines, that strengthen the box and hold a leg, is a different size. The splines become smaller as they go up. The overall design is very solid, low to the ground, but the taper draws your eye straight up to the tip of the spike. The body of the box is constructed of curly maple with a leopardwood base. The splines are padauk and extend into the legs which are made from a glue-up of curly maple and pomelle sapele. They are then topped off with a chrome spike. The lid is made from leopardwood with a birdseye maple cap. Both have been tapered to draw the eye upward. It is also topped off with a chrome spike that plays double duty as the handle to the lid. There are two lift out trays and one base divider to the box. They are all made from Hawaiian koa. The trays use box-joint construction. The dividers in the two trays are curly maple. The two trays naturally lower themselves into the box by air pressure. All have been lined with red velvet. The finish was boiled linseed oil followed by three coats of low-sheen tung oil and two buffings of wax. Spiker is roughly 13” x 9.5” x 7.25.”
38: "Hey Good Looking" | Hey Good Looking was a real early box for me. I come from a family with a mother that is an extraordinary cook. For years, I would watch her dig into her plastic recipe box and root around for what would become the night's meal. Once I started creating boxes, I knew that the replacement of that plastic recipe box had to be done. The design for Hey Good Looking started. The main box body and the lid are made from leopardwood. The inside of the box is lined in hard maple and has an adjustable divider made out of padauk. The legs and handle are also made from padauk. The lid insert was made from a piece of birdseye maple with a padauk border. There is a space between the lid insert and the frame of the lid where it is possible to place the recipe card. The finish on Hey Good Looking was tung oil followed by two buffings of wax. Dimensions are 9.5" x 9.5" x 6.125."
39: Spoon for Guy Fieri | This is one of those projects that was just fun to do from the start. The spoon was designed and crafted for Guy Fieri. I have always liked watching his shows and thought it would be cool to make him his own personalized wooden spoon. I was about to start on a spoon for a friend and thought why not do one for Guy at the same time. I had a blast designing, carving, and wood burning the spoon. It started life as a 3” x 3” X 16” piece of hard maple. After some intricate compound cuts on a bandsaw, the carving began. It was finished with three soakings of mineral oil while being wet sanded with 400 grit sandpaper. I shipped it off to his company “Knuckle Sandwich,” and in three weeks, I received a hand written thank you letter from Guy himself ... awesome!
40: "Manta" | Every once in a while I actually design something that is not a box. A close friend asked me to make a table for his newly installed restaurant booth area in his condo. The booth design was a collaboration between the two of us, and the table design started out the same way. One of his hobbies is diving, so Manta was a perfect name for the table. For the main table portion, he wanted a fairly thick slab. I started with 2” thick, rough cut, black walnut lumber. All but the two inner most pieces were 6” or less wide so I could flatten them on the jointer. For the inner pieces, I leveled the boards on a flat surface and then screwed flat runners onto the sides. I then ran them through the planer to get one side flat. After that, I removed the runners and processed the boards normally through the planer. Board direction went from “corner to corner” so the grain would pull your eye into the corner of the booth. To enhance this effect even more, I put a large taper on the two inner boards. That made all the other boards look as if they were angled. In the end, it was a massive glue-up of twelve boards. Once all glued up, I had to flatten it. I used a No.7 jointer plane to take care of this step. | After flattening the table, I was able to cut out the shape and start on the inlays. The large inlays are quilted maple with an African blackwood boarder. I did this by inlaying the maple into the blackwood, flattening that in a drum sander, and then using a large circle template routing the round inlay shape out. The straight line inlays are ash flanked by African blackwood. The curvaceous circle inlays are spalted quartersawn sycamore. The sycamore had a very distinct color variation in the board so pieces were cut in a way that darker wood would end up by the large inlays and the lighter wood would be in the middle. Manta was finished off with a large 0.7” chamfer on the bottom edge and a 3/8” chamfer on the top edge. I put four soakings of Danish oil on and let it dry for a month. After drying, it received 5 coats of hand-rubbed polyurethane. Manta is 48” x 48” x 1.75.”
41: Accomplishments: -2009/2010 Master Craftsman for The Woodworking Shows with My Nightmares and Dreams -Best of Show 2010 Lake County Art League Spring Show with My Nightmares and Dreams -1st Place 2010 Lumberjocks Summer Awards with Ripple -1st Place 2010 Gorilla Glue "Nothing New Except the Glue" Challenge with Firefly -2nd Place 2010 Wood Magazine "WoodWorking Showdown" Competition with Box of Chocolates -3rd Place 2010 Fine WoodWorking Magazine "Scraptacular" Competition with Home is where the Hearth is -Honorable Mention in the 2011 31st Recent Works Exhibit at the Robert T. Wright Gallery with Ripple -Cover of 2012 "Lake County Arts Magazine" with Ripple