A few years ago I stumbled across this wood called "Leopardwood". At first I thought it was Australian Lacewood, because the color and the quartersawn figure were identical. The Leopardwood I've bought has been much denser than Lacewood. I've been unable to get a definitive answer on the scientific name for this wood. Some people think it is a variety of Lacewood.
The figure is striking and for some perverse reason I like the weighty feel of the wood. In other regards it's a real pain to work with. It's very splintery and the rough wood always gives me lots of little splinters in my hands. It's also very hard to work with handtools. The rays and flecks in the quartersawn wood are prone to gouge out when using a handplane. On a shaped box like this one I end up using files and rasps quite a bit.
I bought quite a bit of this wood a few years ago and made a number of small pieces with it. I was hoarding the last of it and this year decided to use it up. This piece was a bit of a stretch. It has a drawer and tray and the shaping of the box sides is a little different from the other pieces I've done.
The top displays some of the wild figure this wood can have. It looks somewhat "reptilian" when the rays get extended into stripes. Because I was using wood from several different boards,t he grain and color match was a little off. Over the years, I've become less of a purist about using stains, so on this piece I experimented with a dark aniline dye stain. The stain by itself looked like a disaster; it made the wood very dull and lifeless. The top coat of French polished shellac really brought out the figure and made the rays and flecks sparkle.
This also was the year I got a little more creative with the handle style on my boxes. I wanted the handle on this piece to stand out, so I made it out of maple. I'm never sure what the handle will end up like. I get a rough idea in my head and begin carving it. This one ended up looking like a peanut!
We had a lot of debate around the house about my "artistic whimsy" with this and some other handles I used, but somebody liked it because the box sold immediately. I'm kind of anxious to make another.
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