Saturday, November 26, 2011

Good Wood

Alpha Box
cherry, redwood lace burl, and mahogany trim
If you have been reading my blog, you must realize that most of the wood I use in my creations is found wood. The old silver maple tree that was cut down in the back yard several years ago has provided many spalted maple boxes and spoons. The apple tree provided a nice walking stick. And the trunk of the huge old cedar shrub was cut into pieces for many different projects. Call me cheap, but I hardly ever spend money to buy "good wood".

During last year’s excursion to a woodworking expo, I was tempted by a wood vendor with beautiful wood for sale. I succumbed to the temptation and purchased some good wood.  I bought some nice cherry planks and a small, expensive piece of redwood lace burl. I planned on making my first constructed box using those power tools in my workshop that make very loud intimidating whining sounds. I’m talking about the table saw and the router table. These tools demand a certain respect since they can change your anatomy and send you to the emergency room in the blink of an eye. Up until now I have been using less harmful tools, like a small band saw, a drill press and carving gouges. These tools also require careful use, but they are nowhere near as fearful as the hungry rotating blade of the table saw.

I read books on box making, and I used some of the suggestions in the books, but as usual, I found my own ways of doing things. I took my time, and measured carefully. I’m pretty pleased with the result, which I named the Alpha Box. Of course there are several small flaws that are probably hardly noticeable to most people, but seem very obvious to me.

I learned that I still have a lot yet to learn about finishing wood. I learned that setting the hinges takes more time than building the pyramids. And I learned spending some money on good wood really improves the overall look of even my first attempt at a constructed box.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Other Golf

During recent hikes into the woods, I found several nice pieces of wood that I plan on turning into carved walking sticks. I was also playing golf at the time. No, it wasn’t that my golf balls were slicing deep into the woods. I wasn’t even using any golf balls. My sons and I have discovered disc golf.

Forget Big Bertha drivers for over $300. Three throwing discs and a carrying bag will cost you about $60, and that’s all the equipment you will need. Forget $80 greens fees. Disc golfing is free. The set courses are in public parks and woodland preserves.

My sons and I have been playing on local courses. I find the sport very enjoyable and rewarding, even though I’m not very good at it. Perhaps it’s the “hiking in the woods” aspect of the sport that appeals to me. We have played on a local course which makes its way up and down hills through an open forest on a mountaintop. Even if you are staying on the course, you are walking over rocks and small logs. If your disc spins off course, you will find yourself rambling through bushes and thickets. No manicured fairways and “carpet” greens. It’s my kind of golf course.

Teeing off through the trees
For me, there has been the added benefit of finding nice pieces of wood for carving when I’m traipsing through the woods.  What could be better?  A competitive sport of skill which costs next to nothing, and a chance to acquire some found wood for creative projects.