Jewelry Display Commission…or my haunted Halloween project from Hell

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Project by Douglas Bordner posted 11-03-2007 07:22 AM 5414 views 1 time favorited 57 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Cabinet to display a wedding gift from Groom to Bride of a 10 strand pearl necklace and earrings. Way too much work for the fee. The client wanted wenge on a walnut budget. My original intention was to stain and then finish with toned shellac. I packed the pores on the back panel with BLO and rottenstone per one of Karson’s blog’s. I then had planned to body up with straight Zinnser sealcoat, shoot a toned layer or two and rub out. The sprayed shellac went on too thick and refused to dry well in the time I had to complete the box. Out with the scraper, back to the dye (M.C. Campbell Walnut and Corinthian Microtone in denatured alcohol, ragged on) and then to Oxford Ultima waterborne acrylic lacquer. This stuff saved the day, with one hour from wet layer to sand to powder. Little or no dye migration into the clear coat. If I have the option I will never stain wood again.



Incra double dovetails with purpleheart accent wood (not my best work). Concealed 10mm barrel hinges. Turned Bois de Rose knob. Got the check. Please, God. No callbacks on this one.

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

57 comments so far

View mot's profile


4911 posts in 4032 days

#1 posted 11-03-2007 07:37 AM

It’s pretty nice, Douglas.

-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

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Douglas Bordner

4024 posts in 4060 days

#2 posted 11-03-2007 07:48 AM

It’ll be nicer when the check clears, but thanks, Tom. I could have fussed with this for another week. I’m ready for fun, low impact Christmas projects without the commission worries, the 8 hour day job and 4 hour night job and the fear at any point that I would make a grievous mistake and blow the whole project with no time to recover.

As it was, to set the barrel hinges in the 5/8˝ thick panel doors I had to bore the holes in the carcase, start the holes in the doors and then grind the brad-point off the bit to get my depth without poking through to the front.
Every ding needed a dye touch up, would the hinges sag…blah blah blah.

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

View Don's profile


2603 posts in 4173 days

#3 posted 11-03-2007 08:17 AM

Douglas, this is very nice and, I’m sure, very exacting to make.

Now here’s my question; is this a small box, because if it is my friend, I just love small wooden boxes, but if it’s not, well, I like it anyway. LOL

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!"

View Dorje's profile


1763 posts in 3993 days

#4 posted 11-03-2007 09:32 AM

It’s a jewelry-display-case-cabinet-box! It’s great Douglas! You are the finish KING in my book. NO MORE STAIN!!! Hip Hip…well you know where I’m going with that…


-- Dorje (pronounced "door-jay"), Seattle, WA

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Douglas Bordner

4024 posts in 4060 days

#5 posted 11-03-2007 10:14 AM

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket


-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6855 posts in 3975 days

#6 posted 11-03-2007 11:53 AM

Hi Doug;

seems to be a lot of projects ffrom hell lately. Must be the full moon!

Looks just fine to me. Great job. Ah, life as a cabinetmaker, under paid, overworked, never appreciated.

I love it.

Nice project!


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

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Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 3958 days

#7 posted 11-03-2007 01:49 PM

That is one very fine display case. Those double dovetails are exceptional. Sure, you did them with the Incra but that isn’t easy in my opinion. The design and the finish are just excellent. Be happy with it my friend, you did it proud. As for the pay…..some times we just get$3/hour and say, “Oh, well…..I was a fun project and I got to try something new.” As for the deadlines…’s one of the crappy parts of commmission work. Those deadlines are why we all wish we could just do the things we want to do and have them all sell. However deadlines and commission work are our life blood in this business. On to the next one.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View miles125's profile


2180 posts in 4001 days

#8 posted 11-03-2007 01:49 PM

I like it!

-- "The way to make a small fortune in woodworking- start with a large one"

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Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 3958 days

#9 posted 11-03-2007 01:52 PM

You could always tell clients what I tell them in the saddle shop; ” Good work takes time, I assure you you will enjoy it much longer than you waited on it.” so I just set myself up with a project that has to be done so a new store can open. YIKES!!

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View Dadoo's profile


1789 posts in 3986 days

#10 posted 11-03-2007 02:10 PM

Soooo, now your wife wants one too, right? And that’s including the ten strand pearl necklace. LOL!

I like the double dovetails detail as it throws some more color into the piece.

-- Bob Vila would be so proud of you!

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4024 posts in 4060 days

#11 posted 11-03-2007 02:23 PM

Thanks guys. I think it was the time pressure that turned the tide for me. And with the finishing faux pas I had to put the rather nervous expectant groom off a day and a half. When it came time to settle up he forgot the written estimate and would have given me an extra fifty. I was too stupid to make a joke about a tip, I just reminded him of what I agreed to make the box for. Pam about killed me when I told her.

I’ll chalk it up to a learning experience. Don’t really feel I can turn away work that comes calling from out of the blue. My wood store folks recommended me. So like you said Tom “on to the next one.” And I will not be rushing out to give up my day job. And probably ought to have my “business manager” handle the closings.

As soon as I use the last day of decent weather here to re-glaze a window, I will get to start up a raft of desk organizer projects like the ones made by Jeff (the artist formerly known as Caliper)

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4095 days

#12 posted 11-03-2007 02:28 PM

Yeah, I recognized the stress of the commission as I was reading your entry. Still nice work. We always can pick the work apart. Usually if the overall piece is good looking, people don’t notice the details that the craftsman does. YOU have an intimate relationship with the piece and know of its flaws in detail. Their relationship is the initial impact when they see it. If that is good they typically will be very happy.

Our self-critique and awareness always drives us to be better.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3809 posts in 4018 days

#13 posted 11-03-2007 02:33 PM

Nice job Douglas.
It’s a tough life being a Xmas Elf.


-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4024 posts in 4060 days

#14 posted 11-03-2007 02:35 PM

Dadoo she reminded me how much see liked my “piano finish” (never posted), ebonizing dye over black toned lacquer. Guess I won’t get to throw out the jugs of dye just yet (I bought a gallon each of Campbell Black, Corinthian and Walnut Microtone and a quart of Behlens Solarlux yellow in one fell swoop a few years ago).

I forgot to mention the counterbored screw holes in the top are plugged with purpleheart and there is a purpleheart and cork device glued into the interior (rub joint) that captures a little tab on the bottom of the manikin. This will allow the jewelry store people and the bride to pull the whole thing out should that be desired.

Thanks Bob. I enjoyed hearing about your karate demo at the woodshow with Mot.

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4095 days

#15 posted 11-03-2007 02:41 PM

I will be doing some dye work on the project that I am on now. It can really set your work apart from the standard stained look.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

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