Here it comes at last! The final steps in this project. With the shaping out of the way, I decided to work on the finish next. I figured it would be easier to pre-finish the individual pieces before gluing them together. I have to apologize because I don’t have any photos of the finishing process, or of the individual finished pieces, but the finished project will be shown below.
Because Wenge is a fairly “texturous” wood, I wanted to preserve its feel, rather than encase it in a film finish, so I decided to go with genuine Tung oil. Following a very detailed set of instructions from a website I cannot recall, after scraping and sanding to 320 grit, I began with a heavily thinned coat (25:75 Tung oil/mineral spirits). I slathered the finish on, left it for about an hour and wiped the surface clean. Since the grain on both the Wenge and Padauk are quite open, spots of finish continually seeped to the surface. I wiped the seepage off every 15-30 minutes until it did not reappear (about 2 – 3 hours after the initial wipe). I let the finish cure for at least one week between coats. I repeated this process with two coats of a 50:50 mix and a final coat of a 65:35-ish mix, sanding with 320-600 grit sandpaper in between, after the cure period. The intention was to eventually finish with a coat of pure Tung oil, as my instructions suggested, but I was very happy with the result at this stage and decided to stop. If you are very careful in the final coat to wipe off all seepage, you will be left with a very smooth finish with a satin sheen.
With the finish complete, it was time for the glue-up. This was a pretty straight-forward glue-up, simply involving a few clamps and cauls. I did it in three stages, two opposing sides then the final glue-up as shown below:
This box was a kind of awkward size, as my smaller clamps were barely too small, and any larger clamps I had were quite oversized. In the end, it worked out well though.
With that, the project was completed! Although I really like the Asian-inspired design of the posts, the way Wenge figure “wraps” around the box is probably my favourite part of the box. This is one of those examples where the wood’s texture and figure can stand on its own. The photos below sort of show what I mean. In the first one, you can see the book match to the left, in the second you can see the continuity of the wood grain.
The following show some close-ups and other orientations of the box, as well as my solution for the box’ bottom, for which I used a piece of 1/4” plywood with drainage holes. I coated this piece in epoxy for added water resistance.
Finally, here you can see the box in action. It was an unexpected treat to see that several of our utensils’ colours seemed to match the Padauk posts:
I really loved working on this project. I still get excited when I walk past our kitchen island and catch a glance of this box. There were, of course, some hiccups along the way, the most major being the Wenge panels which ended up being too thin. In the end, I actually really like the contrasting Maple interior of the box. This is also one of the first projects I used genuine Tung oil on, which resulted in a very deep, rich finish.
I guess it’s time to get started on my next project, thanks for reading.
-- Jeffrey S. Ovens, Canada