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These two boxes are identical to the first two I made (one of them is just below, on the left), except in the woods and paint colors. When I made those two boxes, I knew that I would come back to the design, because I like it so much and I wanted to experiment with other species for the boxes and different milk paints for the lids. I might return to this design later, too. I already have a few ideas about how to change it up a bit (and, in fact, I’ve already turned one of those ideas into a reality—it’s box 14. Yes, I am working ahead of what I am putting up on the blog.) And I don’t think this violates the spirit of my 52 boxes challenge as I laid them out. Actually, it’s explicitly in keeping with it.
In this new pair, one of the boxes is made from rift sawn ash, has a pumpkin lid, and the lift is made from the wortled heart wood of a quizzical pear tree. The other is quartersawn maple with a Lexington green lid. Its lift is apple. Of the two, I think I like the maple one better. The grain is so tight, and there’s a bit of chatoyance to it. The green is also a great match for the maple and apple. But the ash has an earthy undertone that goes quite well with the pumpkin milk paint. The darker grain lines are a nice match with the milk paint, too. It’s hard. I like it, too. I suppose it’s like choosing between your kids—on one day you (might) like one more than the other, but you never stop loving either.
There is one way (other than wood species and paint colors) that boxes 7 and 8 are different than boxes 1 and 2. Where the bottoms of the first two were natural wood on both faces, I painted the top face of the bottoms for these two new boxes (taking a cue from box 5). The color is custom, comprised of mostly snow white with a touch of marigold yellow. I like it. Once again, I got that cool crackle effect. My colleague at Fine Woodworking, Dillon Ryan, has surmised that it is caused by the plywood swelling due to the water in the milk paint. When the plywood dries and shrinks, you get the crackle. I think this makes sense, because the top veneer of the plywood is so thin. With solid wood the crackle doesn’t happen because it doesn’t expand and shrink in the same way.
I made these two boxes the same week that I made box 6. In fact, I made all three at the same time. After you have a design figured out, it’s not hard to knock out a couple of boxes using it. I find this encouraging. Perhaps one day I can make and sell boxes for a profit.
Hmm. I think it’s time for some random reflections.
- I’ve done four takes on this design. These new ones are the Merry and Pippin of the gang. The first two were the Samwise and Frodo. I think the walnut and marigold yellow box is my favorite. It’s the Samwise Gamgee, who is the true hero and purest of heart (and who has a sister named Marigold—this is significant). I know that I’ve got a Bandobras Took in me. And a Rosie Cotton. No literary sundering breaks my heart more than when Rosie dies and Sam goes into the West.
- When I used Lexington green for box 4, I cut it with some snow white (that sounds illegal). This time I used it full strength. I’m glad I did. The darker green works better with the maple. The lighter shade works better with white oak.
- Ash is one of my favorite woods, at least when it’s quarter- or riftsawn. Back South, all the ash I used was a beautiful creamy white with a hint of butter. Since I’ve been in Connecticut, I’ve bought locally grown and air-dried-by-me ash. I like the more earthy color it has. There’s more to work with. Look at the nice brown streaks at the corner. It allowed me to pull in the darker color of the pull. I love it. It’s the kind of little detail that I geek out one when it comes to wood. Give me some funky little quirk and I’ll build something around it.