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A Little Cabinetree #2: The Box and the Branches

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Blog entry by shipwright posted 1248 days ago 1808 reads 8 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: The Concept, the Goals and the Challenges. Part 2 of A Little Cabinetree series Part 3: Scroll Saw Marquetry. »

OK so we’re going to make a tree and set a box in it. Sounds pretty simple, just a different support system for just another box. How hard can it be? The challenge here is to reach the threshold of belief where the viewer’s eyes, which already want to see a tree, do see it and say “yup that’s a tree”. Anyone who has freehand turned legs for a piece of furniture will understand this. They don’t have to be identical. They just have to be close enough to allow the very forgiving eye of the viewer to concede that they are. Here the tree didn’t really have to look exactly like a tree, it just had to reach the threshold to be seen as a tree. Falling short of the threshold it would be seen as something like “I guess that’s supposed to be a tree”. It’s actually pretty easy to sketch a tree that looks enough like a tree that people recognize it as one so how hard can it be to sculpt one?

So lets get started. We’re going to need a trunk so we’ll glue up a cylinder and go from there. It should be thick walled because we’ll want to shape some kinks and curves in it to help with that threshold and we’ll want it to be off center like the sketch.

There are a couple of design parameters that loom when you come to turning the sketch into a cabinet support system. For one it has to support over the whole area of the weight bearing surface. For another it has to be robust enough to withstand the use and abuse it may have to endure over what you hope will be a long lifetime. These considerations will explain the long sturdy roots and thicker than sketched trunk. In this photo the bird’s mouth cylinder has been rough turned on the lathe, shaped on the bandsaw and faired out with a foam covered sanding drum in the old ShopSmith 10ER. Now I’m mortising for the roots.

Here the roots have been roughed out and fitted. Symmetry has been avoided to give it a “real” organic feel and the longest root has been left to the back side of the cabinet. So far so good but this is the easy part.

Looking at the last photo it is clear that the roots just don’t work fitting square into the trunk. Here I’ve chosen to try to present the illusion of the roots fairing into the trunk without going to the trouble of adding and sculpting a lot more parts in what is going to be an unnoticed part of the piece. Unnoticed that is as long as it “looks” right. I’m also starting to experiment with prospective trunk colors. This is burnt sienna aniline dye. It is probably worth saying here that I’m not going to try for the real color of a maple trunk, grey, because I don’t know if I could and I think it needs to be dark.

This is a bit of a jump. This part was definitely the hard bit. These are the second set of branches I made. The first set although very labor intensive weren’t “right”. They were too light and looked somehow alkward. I like these much better. Here I have established the cut off line for the branches and located the base of the box. It is perfectly level although you wouldn’t know from this photo.

And now on to the box. Why a mitered box instead of another type of corner joint? Because the whole box will be veneered inside and out and the veneers have to be applied before the box is assembled. The top to side. top to back and top to front veneer joints will all be continuous grain like a waterfall. One nice thing about a mitered box is that it is easy to dry assemble with a bit of packing tape as is done here. (at this piont the top is not yet mitered in and is just sitting in position)

And then there are the hinges. This is another new one for me. On Oops! I designed what I thought were “high degree of difficulty” hinges, but I really enjoyed the novelty of them and wanted to continue the theme of “different” hinges. I thought these would be easier than the Oops! hinges. Wrong! The problem occurs because of the number of individual blocks involved. I think they would be a piece of cake if you only had a few pieces but here there are two sets of twenty pieces in each hinge. The challenge is to get them to align. If you are a quarter of a degree off on each one, that will add up to five degrees difference in plane from one end to the other. It’s a much longer story than I want to get into here but suffice to say they were a good challenge and they worked out quite well in the end. They are pinned with 1/8” brass rod that can be removed for maintenance, cleaning, refinishing or whatever.

I think that’s it for tonight. Next time I begin to discover scroll saw marquetry.

Thanks for following and please, comment, critique or question. It’s how we all learn.

Thanks again

Paul

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fiberglass trees. http://prmdesigns.com/



15 comments so far

View dakremer's profile

dakremer

2409 posts in 1597 days


#1 posted 1248 days ago

thats really awesome, Shipwright! love it so far – can’t wait to see the finished product!

-- Hey you dang woodchucks, quit chucking my wood!!!!

View Greg The Cajun Box Sculptor's profile

Greg The Cajun Box Sculptor

4748 posts in 1814 days


#2 posted 1248 days ago

Looking really good so far. I like the shaping you did on the tree base. Nice…

-- Every step of each project is considered my masterpiece because I want the finished product to reflect the quality of my work. http://www.FineArtBoxes.com

View PurpLev's profile

PurpLev

8473 posts in 2154 days


#3 posted 1248 days ago

this is super! I love that idea. thanks for the share.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Napaman's profile

Napaman

5276 posts in 2582 days


#4 posted 1248 days ago

I really like the trunk…and the branches turned out really nice…

-- Matt--Proud LJ since 2007

View lanwater's profile

lanwater

3025 posts in 1439 days


#5 posted 1248 days ago

You work is really different. It’s looking good.

-- Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

View TJ65's profile

TJ65

1347 posts in 1555 days


#6 posted 1248 days ago

Thats such a cool design.

-- Theresa, https://sites.google.com/site/tmj65treasure/

View tdv's profile

tdv

1114 posts in 1575 days


#7 posted 1248 days ago

nice!

-- God created wood that we may create. Trevor East Yorkshire UK

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

4806 posts in 1934 days


#8 posted 1248 days ago

I thought we’d see some spill over from OOPS to your next project but, you’ve really begun to branch out with this one.
Very nice, Paul.
Can’t wait for the marquetry. This is going to be very cool!

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View Eagle1's profile

Eagle1

2060 posts in 1570 days


#9 posted 1248 days ago

WOW!!!

-- Tim, Missouri ....Inside every older person is a younger person wondering what the heck happened

View Maveric777's profile

Maveric777

2687 posts in 1582 days


#10 posted 1248 days ago

This is flat out cool! I have two pages full of scribbling in my “Top Secret Crappy Sketches Of Ideas Journal” with an idea similar to this one (except not this big). Ohhhh…. What a treat to see this blog posted!

Thanks for sharing Paul and look forward to seeing more blogs!

-- Dan ~ Texarkana, Tx.

View shipwright's profile

shipwright

4670 posts in 1303 days


#11 posted 1248 days ago

Thank you to all for your comments. You make it much easier to push on to the finish.
Gene, I’m trying to make a marqued improvement with this one but there is some trickle down from Oops!

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fiberglass trees. http://prmdesigns.com/

View Blake's profile

Blake

3432 posts in 2379 days


#12 posted 1248 days ago

Awesome!

-- Happy woodworking! http://www.openarmsphotography.com

View terrilynne's profile

terrilynne

833 posts in 1399 days


#13 posted 1248 days ago

I can’t wait to see the finished piece. I see all the fall leaves laying in wait. This is going to be another masterpiece.

-- Terri, Rocky Mountain High Colorado!

View gurnie's profile

gurnie

342 posts in 1540 days


#14 posted 1031 days ago

i love this project, and as you know i am making a cake plate for my wedding with a very simialr design. I understand you used the lathe to rough out the shape, but how did you get that lovely twist / bend in the trunk’s shape? did you use a bandsaw? did you do that after you turned on the lathe?

-- Please visit my Etsy site, http://www.etsy.com/shop/cgurnham or http://www.christinagurnham.com You can also follow me on my artfire blog: http://www.artfire.com/users/cgurnham/blog

View shipwright's profile

shipwright

4670 posts in 1303 days


#15 posted 1031 days ago

The lathe was just used to get a rough cylinder and could probably have been skipped altogether. The main shaping was with the bandsaw and the foam covered drum sander.

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fiberglass trees. http://prmdesigns.com/

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