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Are you inclined to make things yourself from wood, but are short on the skills required for complex wood joints? My wife, a linguist, lifelong student of many languages and an English pronunciation teacher was immediately enchanted when she first heard these words.
The box is intended as a desk box, something of convenient size for everyday use on her desk. I started with a lettering layout that used all Roman capitals, the norm for so many inscriptions.
Hand drawn lettering is making a come back on the web, as are hand painted signs in the brick and mortar world. The answer was to scan the design, make it a computer hosted image, print it out and glue it to the wood with rubber cement.
For those interested in lettercarving, Mary May has several lettercarving lessons at her online school. For readers interested in learning really high quality hand learning, take a look at Sean McCabe’s online lettering course. A simple three leaf embellishment, a recent carving lesson from Mary May, originally meant for corner decorations, turned out to be just complicated enough to be satisfying and just simple enough for the pine. The rest is a matter of careful assembly, lots of gluing and clamping, lots of planing, a bit of drilling and fitting.
The work holding capability is better than I aimed for, and the fit and finish is a big step above the previous version. Nuts for the front vise screws are mortised in very snugly, and then epoxied to prevent any wiggle.
Work holding - This one is hard to hold well, but this works, a good test for moderate sized 'in the round' carvings. Work holding - typical joinery cutting - 22 inches between vise screws gives lots of capability.
I was given a very lovely book for my birthday called Junk Genius by Juliette Goggin and Stacy Sirk.


An English summer afternoon is not a proper summer afternoon without afternoon tea, and afternoon tea is not afternoon tea without shortbread. Originally cooked in the ashes of the hearth, and typical of Province, Fougasse is a marvellous bread to eat.
A tasty winter tipple to liven the soul and set the throat on fire; sipping a wee sloe gin is becoming a little yearly ritual in our lives. The second inscription is the pair of Chinese characters on the front of the box, her Chinese name. After years of computer drawn fonts and plastic lettering, many designers are looking for something different and more human to polish their designs. Cutting through the paper eliminated the inaccuracy that was based in tracing and immediately led to good results. I mark the miters with a standard layout square and cut them by hand with the same fine back-saw that I use for dovetails.
So, why is it when I go to nearest home center, the pine they have is the Radiata species grown in New Zealand?
Being a shop accessory, I decided to use some of the radiata pine I have left from other projects and save the hardwood for other times.
All of the boxes I’ve made recently have been made as much for having something to decorate with carvings as much as having a practical storage box. Taking shallower cuts to avoid unwanted splitting resulted in more facets than I like in the background, but adding yet more facets even things out. The 044 plow plane was good at removing waste, but only after the groove sides were cut ahead. If you make a V shaped groove in the block, it will be easier to hold the pieces still when you drill them. Use a file to clean up the sharp, cut end of the threaded rod in order to be able to thread an 8-32 nut onto the end. A dozen or so iterations later, I landed on the design I like, … and she liked it too.


Slicing is the key to success, and that little knife is kept razor sharp for marking, and now for slicing cedar. So, I use joinery that features dovetails in the middles of the joins and miters at the tops and bottoms. It’s the nature of cedar to crush more easily than cut, so when it came to routing the dadoes, a knife and slicing motions worked better than a chisel.
Fitting something like this is when one learns to really appreciate how well Michel Auriou’s rasps perform  (the one on the right, not the rat tail). The technique eliminates butt joins, leaving beautiful miters and by strategically placing the groove, hides the grooves. Even though the specific type is unknown, it was straight, free of knots and a joy to work. The front vise itself grew to be a bit floppy, the result of installing the vise screw nuts loosely in softwood sockets. I can’t justify the tooling cost for making just one of those wooden screws, and for what it costs to buy one ready made, I can buy a couple of top of the line carving gouges. Most of my practice cuts were done by using carbon paper to transfer the design to the wood and then cutting. I’ll keep the full width front vise and the excellent screws with adjustable handles. Being off by the width of a half-millimeter pencil line was enough to throw off the look of a letter. Lastly, the excellent Gramercy holdfasts were rarely useful due to the smaller size of most of my work pieces.



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