A few years ago a Bill, a friend of mine who had a small sawmill business going, gave me a call. Something along the lines of "Have I gotta deal for you!". He had a another friend, Ray, who had built a kiln with the idea of selling locally harvested wood to woodworkers in the area. Bill was sawing up logs on his Woodmizer bandsaw mill for Ray, but they needed a helper to stack the boards, etc. Ray was willing to pay me in wood at a pretty fair rate.
Thus I found myself on a nice spring day at the output end of a very noisy machine catching green wood planks of locally harvested oak, maple, and cherry and carrying them and stacking them in piles to be eventually loaded into the kiln. I did this for 10 or 11 hours and by the end of the day I was barely able to lift many of the boards and was really feeling my age. It made me really appreciate my normal day job spent at a desk.
One of the benefits of this day's labor was that I was able to select some of the nicest wood for myself. We had a cherry tree that was a little short for the highest grade wood, but it was fine for my use. Bill sawed it up to give me the widest boards he could. Cherry trees in New Jersey tend to grow smaller and more twisted than in Pennsylvania, the premier source of cherry in the U.S. But NJ cherry that I've seen often has some very interesting grain patterns as a result of the twists and turns in the log.
The wood in this jewelry box is from that day's work and remembering the cutting of the log and all the effort that went into producing the boards makes it kind of special to me. Certainly, this piece has more significance to me that it would if I'd gotten the wood off the rack in from one of the local hardwood suppliers.
The design is very similar to the cherry and mahogany knitting/sewing chests I'd made previously, but the box is a little smaller, measuring roughly 8" high by 11" long and 8 inches wide. The box carcase is from a continous length of board so the grain flows continuously across three of the four corners.
Because it's intended to be for jewelry, I made two removable nested trays that sit above the main box compartment. The next series of of pictures show how the grain flows around the sides of the box. I'd like to say that I did this deliberately, but it was after the box was pretty far along that I discovered that each side has oval shaped, ring-like grain pattern.
I get a real kick out of this and I doubt that I'd be able to reproduce something similar very easily.
The top has a similar pattern too!
The handle is one of my three piece creative inspirations made out of cocobolo. It either creates an interesting contrast to the curves of the rest of the box or it looks completely odd and inappropriate. Take your pick, but I know how I feel about it.
The finish is French polished orange shellac that I left pretty glossy.
So while I seem to spend a fair amount of time investigating and working with all sorts of wierd and exotic woods, this piece shows that there's some really beautiful stuff practically growing in my backyard. The fact that most of the local wood is coming from trees that might otherwise end up as firewood makes me feel pretty good too.
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