For an Awesome Young Lady

Once Upon a Time, I wanted to do a project. It was Christmas and I was going home on leave, but I wanted to do some kind of cool thing. I also had a cousin that I hadn’t gotten anything for, and as I am her confirmation sponsor, I thought it ought to be something that some thought and effort went into. So I thought to myself, “Why not make a box? How hard could it be, right?”

Accordingly I bought some lumber. The original idea was to make the thing out of cedar, but the cedar wood at the hardware store was kind of cheap and grainy looking. The red oak, however, was smooth and crisp, hard and solid. It had a weight and smell to it that spoke to me, and as for the feel? Well, I’m a pretty tactile person, so I do not exaggerate when I say that I fell in love with the feel of it. So it was a match. I bought the wood and lugged it upstairs to the woodshop in the top of the shop.

Conscious of safety at all times, I ensured I had emergency medical equipment on hand in case of an emergency involving power tools.

 Also, on a job like this it is critical that you keep your strength up. Running the risk of passing out from hunger while operating powertools is simply irresponsible. So I made sure I was provisioned up. Then I ate my provisions in the first two minutes. Several more supply runs had to be made throughout the duration. A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do, you know?

 I measured twice…

 And cut once…

 And repeated a few doxen times, and voila! (That’s French for, “It’s not as easy as it looks, and there were some setbacks and a steep learning curve, but I managed to do it anyway, and decided to put it in montage format to condense the story-telling.” That’s really what voila means.)

 I decided to use a combination of glue and mechanical fasteners (dowel rod pins in holes in the planks.) The forms I built to keep the holes consistent weren’t perfect so there was a little error. Some of the seams were really good, others were horrible. A little bit of sanding with a belt sander fixed that, but whenever I set up my own workshop, I think I’ll probably use a disk sander instead.

 Once I got the holes drilled and was ready to pin the sides and bottom together I had to build frames so that I could clamp them. Otherwise there is too much gap and the seam ends up ugly with lots of glue bulging out. They still ended up like that. More sanding.

 This is the bottom of the chest.

 Once all the sections were set and sanded I had to put them together. The corners were all cut at a 45 degree bevel but I only had two large clamps. I tried using kettlebells to weigh it down, but they didn’t put anywhere near enough pressure on it.

 So I used slats of wood, ratchet straps, and twine to jury rig 24 separate clamps, one for each corner and direction. It looked crazy but it worked. If i ever really get into woodworking I’ll need a bunch of those long clamps.

 Starting work on the top.

 I took a break over Christmas day to enjoy the day. I sauted up this mushroom dish, which turned out to be really good. I don’t know why the picture ended up on it’s side though. It isn’t on it’s side in the folder I uploaded it from. Oh well. It’s probably gremlins. If you’re using a laptop I suggest you turn that on its side for optimal viewing. If you are using a desktop you could probably turn the monitor on its side, but lying sideways on the desk might be easier. While you’re doing that I’ll jot down the recipe as closely as I remember it.
2 things of white mushrooms
2 things of baby bella mushrooms
1 thing of oyster mushrooms
1 thing of shittake mushrooms.
First you heat the pan with olive oil just covering the bottom, and toss in the shittakes. Mince up 5-6 cloves of garlic and add them. Three or four heaping spoonfuls each of basil and oregano, and couple of tsps or tbsps (whichever is smaller) of ground rosemary. Then the oyster mushrooms (the shittakes should be getting rubbery by now if you’ve been adding things quickly. Throw in a bunch of thyme and sage and keep stirring. The heat should be on the lower side of medium by now. The baby bellas go in next,
 and the whites can go in shortly after. Now I would keep stirring for a while, but you’re going to need to add salt (and I like just hint of pepper as well) so you’ll just have to keep adding, stirring and tasting unti it is just the right amount. You want it to bring out the flavor of everything else, not take over. When its done you should eat it while it is still hot. It probably wouldn’t be good leftover.

There should always be food and family. Whoever invented those two things would have my vote if He was running for president of the universe.

 Back to work, putting the top together.

 You can tell I was wearing the headphones while I used the belt sander. My entire head is covered with sawdust, except for the one strip right across the middle. If it looks like my mouth is hanging open it’s because I’m singing along to some L’Angelus.

 Top and bottom done, mostly, but not attached to each other. Getting them to line up, while I was pretty close all things considered, still tooks some creative sanding.

 Inscribing the lid. I borrowed my sister’s woodburning kit, and after I finally figured out how to use it, it went pretty well.

 This is the inscription, traced and partially burned.

 Spille half my varnish. Oops.

 The varnishing was the hardest part. The darn stuff wouldn’t set. It’s supposed to be applied in temperatures between 50 and 90 degrees farenheit, but the weather took a turn for the arctic. It hardly got above ten degrees I think, that whole week, so I had to keep the stove going in the shop constantly. As you can see, the shop isn’t fully weatherproofed yet (my brother is working on it.) The warmest place was at the top of the stairs with the trapdoor to the upstairs shut. So that’s where I stashed the pieces while they were drying. That was a tricky bit of work, trying to move heavy pieces, wet with fresh varnish, without smudging them or dragging them through the dust. It worked, sort of.

 Layn wanted to do a project.

 Archie and the cat. “Dude, it is too dang cold out. How about a truce. I won’t tell if you won’t.”

 All finished from the back.

 All finished from the front.

 It’s even finished on the inside!

This post has been burning a hole in my pocket since December, but I could post it until it arrived because I didn’t want the surprise spoiled. Totally worth the wait. :-D.

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