Boxguy's Star Apprentice, Derrick

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Project by Boxguy posted 817 days ago 1296 views 4 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Story: Everyone who teaches takes pride in what their pupils learn. Derrick, who is now in his twenties, is my star apprentice. He has been coming to the shop every Wednesday evening for the past 5 years. He is no longer my apprentice…he is my colleague. The boxes shown here are some Derrick presented at an opening in a local gallery last month. With his permission, I am sharing his work with you. If the art of woodworking is going to survive, older people who have developed skills will have to pass on those skills to younger people who want to learn to be woodworkers. So, fellow Lumber Jocks, who could you teach your skills to?

Wood: Most of the wood used in Derrick’s boxes pictured here came from trees that were blown down by the 90 mph tailwinds of Hurricane Ike. These winds swept through our area of the country and blew down thousands of trees. The Black Cherry used in the first box top was from a tree that grew in a neighbor’s yard and the American Walnut for the sides grew on a nearby farm. The second box shown has a White Oak top and Black Mimba sides.

Techniques: Derrick has developed his own style. The second picture is a shot of his corner spline technique. The 1/8 inch spline slots were cut with a Forrest #1 Grind blade. This grind on their blade gives a flat-bottomed cut. Note his finger lift style. This is done with an ogee bit and a stop for each end of the box.

Critique: As you can see, Derrick has a keen eye for beauty in wood and loves the crazy grain that grows around knots. Many of his works feature boards that most woodworkers would throw away as too rough and knotted to use, but he sees the beauty in them and features these “flaws” in this tops and sides.

As always both Derrick and I thank you for looking and a special thanks to those who have taken time to add comments and make suggestions.

-- Big Al in IN

9 comments so far

View patron's profile (online now)


12955 posts in 1939 days

#1 posted 817 days ago

excelent work derrick !

and a great help you give here al

without some kind and knowing help
many of our youth
are being lost to the confusing world
of todays rush

when i started almost 50 years ago
i tried everything to learn woodworking
but was rejected repeatedly
as i had no training
finally winding up in a fed. prison
i fought my way to the wood shop
and was taught the skills and tools
that i still use today

i have helped many over the years
to learn this craft
and found that we don’t lose anything in helping others
but just enhance the world around us
and give some joy

here is my first work when i got out of prison
at age 24 i have never looked back

thanks for introducing us

and welcome both of you to LJ’s

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View grizzman's profile (online now)


6782 posts in 1901 days

#2 posted 817 days ago

how wonderful it is to find someone who wants to learn the art and trade, he did a masterful job and i love how they turned out, the wild cherry is a favorite, they can have such beautiful color…welcome to the world of wood work derrick..will look forward to seeing his work here..

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View Roger's profile


14098 posts in 1401 days

#3 posted 817 days ago

You are, no doubt, a gr8 teacher, as is Derrick, a gr8 learner. Very nice. Derrick will have a large box-building future.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe.

View SuburbanDon's profile


482 posts in 1591 days

#4 posted 817 days ago

Exceptionally nice.

-- --- Measure twice, mis-cut, start over, repeat ---

View Martyroc's profile


2708 posts in 903 days

#5 posted 817 days ago

Beautiful boxes! Derrick can see the beauty of a knot or flaw like I do, I think it gives the piece more character. You my friend are a great teacher.

-- Martin ....always count the number of fingers you have before, and after using the saw.

View itsmic's profile


1419 posts in 1716 days

#6 posted 817 days ago

Great Box, Fine work Derrick, and Thanks Big Al for being there, You will find that You have lots of company here that value Your insight and tasteful style, Great job, thanks for sharing

-- It's Mic Keep working and sharing

View woodworm's profile


14124 posts in 2188 days

#7 posted 817 days ago

That’s really beautiful work.

-- masrol, kuala lumpur, MY.

View doncutlip's profile


2832 posts in 2154 days

#8 posted 817 days ago

Excellent work, lots of character, beautiful splines

-- Don, Royersford, PA

View gfadvm's profile


10551 posts in 1288 days

#9 posted 817 days ago

I too am a big fan of knots, sapwood, bark inclusions, and other ‘defects’. Great job on these Derrick and good on you Al for mentoring. I wish I could find someone in my area to mentor as it is something that I enjoy doing.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

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