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Plumwood Pencil Box

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Project by RogerBean posted 10-16-2010 03:42 AM 2494 views 5 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch

THE PLUM BOX:

This little box, #2 in a series of three; an experiment looking for a “simple, beautiful box.” It’s made of plum wood from a dwarf plum tree on my property. I really like this wood …but it’s proven to be a real stinker to work with.

It’s small (trunk was only 6” in diameter), hard, brittle, and warps when drying. On the other hand, the warm color and graining is attractive, and it polishes to a really silky touch. It looks a lot like the nicest European olive.

Box #1 was relatively easy, being walnut and walnut burl. This box is more about how to use this small but quirky wood (plum). I nearly tossed it when it became apparent there was not enough wood to get a continuous grain match on all four sides. Then I get it glued up and find that a big chunk of bug poop falls out to reveal a hole on the bottom edge. But, for some reason I was committed to making this thing work, so I kept going. So far, I’ve fixed splits, cracks, chips, and now holes. Any more fixes, and it will be a match box. It has become a contest of wills between me and this piece of wood. I’m not sure who’s winning, but I’m really becoming attached to this little box.

The interior is lined in leather. Because it’s a bit smaller than the pencil box posted in my last project, I omitted the divider. (due to the reversed lid for a recessed look, and a cut-down of the sides to fix a chip) This makes the interior slightly more spacious. The inlay is walnut burl, bordered with a band of cocobolo. The brown leather is warm, and tactile, complementing the solid wood exterior. Because it is a pencil box, I chose a dark color lining, so ink and lead marks wouldn’t be intrusive. The finish is Sutherland-Welles tung oil over a light coat of boiled linseed and polished back with 0000 steel wool and waxed.

Despite having more fixes than the Detroit City Council, it is wonderful to hold and to touch, the wood is lovely, and the leather provides some texture counterpoint to the hard wood. So this one is #2, and there’s one more to go. Maybe I can do better on the next (cherry) box.

Thanks for taking a look.

Roger

-- "Everybody makes mistakes. A craftsman always fixes them." (Monty Kennedy, "The Checkering and Carving of Gunstocks", 1952)





14 comments so far

View freidasdad's profile

freidasdad

144 posts in 1643 days


#1 posted 10-16-2010 04:03 AM

That’s a beautiful box….and I admire your perseverance and tenacity….very nice job.

-- My goal in life is to be as good a person as my dog already thinks I am---author unknown

View CharlieM1958's profile

CharlieM1958

15698 posts in 2874 days


#2 posted 10-16-2010 04:27 AM

The final result was well worth the effort. Another great little pencil box, Roger.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Chip's profile

Chip

1904 posts in 2748 days


#3 posted 10-16-2010 04:32 AM

I like it Roger. Your perseverance payed off. Finicky wood is a pain but the payoff is usually worth the effort… like with this beauty. I really like the simplicity of this series of boxes, they let the wood speak for itself, and the small inlay is perfect. Another gem Roger. Am looking forward to the 3rd…

-- Better to say nothing and be thought the fool... then to speak and erase all doubt!

View Dark_Lightning's profile

Dark_Lightning

1715 posts in 1764 days


#4 posted 10-16-2010 04:37 AM

LEATHER-lined? And here I was complaining about using felt! Though I must say that the leather looks a whole lot better. I’ll have to look around for a reasonable source.

View Chip's profile

Chip

1904 posts in 2748 days


#5 posted 10-16-2010 04:45 AM

Jack, car detailing shops are a great source for really nice leather and you don’t usually have to buy a lot of it. Just a thought.

-- Better to say nothing and be thought the fool... then to speak and erase all doubt!

View Patrick May's profile

Patrick May

22 posts in 1465 days


#6 posted 10-16-2010 05:06 AM

great job Roger. Glad to see you stuck with it. I think it was all worth it

View NormG's profile

NormG

4181 posts in 1659 days


#7 posted 10-16-2010 05:14 AM

Looks great.

-- Norman

View Donn Busby's profile

Donn Busby

8 posts in 1777 days


#8 posted 10-16-2010 05:23 AM

Roger, I’ve clipped several of your boxes to go in my inspiration file.

-- Donn, TheOregonArtisan.com

View Randy63's profile

Randy63

230 posts in 1547 days


#9 posted 10-16-2010 07:25 AM

This second box in your trio is very nice and the color of the plum is mellow. Some woods are more difficult to work, but I’d bet on you if I had to bet on whether the wood or you would persevere. Your work with the inlay is excellent. I appaulde your showing how wonderful even a less demanding box can look very elegant when time is taking with details.

-- Randy, Oakdale, Ca.

View CiscoKid's profile

CiscoKid

317 posts in 1529 days


#10 posted 10-16-2010 10:31 AM

I love it. Thanks for preserversing through the issues.

-- Al, Culpeper VA

View Maveric777's profile

Maveric777

2690 posts in 1732 days


#11 posted 10-16-2010 03:15 PM

Very cool work Roger. I really like the top and the lining. Good stuff!

-- Dan ~ Texarkana, Tx.

View DonFaulk0517's profile

DonFaulk0517

131 posts in 2142 days


#12 posted 10-17-2010 01:32 AM

Great looking box… I like the slider tops and your slider blends in beautifully! Love to see some plans on it!

-- DonFaulk0517@gmail.com

View tomd's profile

tomd

1756 posts in 2426 days


#13 posted 10-17-2010 04:00 AM

Great box, I’ve never seen plum but it looks beautiful. It was interesting to learn that I’m not the only one who has boxes that give them fits. Very nice piece Roger, it’s the tough ones that realy build skill.

-- Tom D

View Triumph1's profile

Triumph1

836 posts in 1735 days


#14 posted 10-21-2010 11:44 AM

I heard that the wood from many of the fruit trees is hard to work with…but you came through in the end. I love the fact that you used wood that was on your property. Cut it, dry it and then build a box from it. Makes it much more personal. The plum grain looks beautiful. After reading your description I just want to pick it up. Great craftsmanship again Roger. Thanks for sharing it with us.

-- Jeff , Illinois Please...can I stay in the basement a little longer, please!

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