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Barb Free Spirit - Bangor, PA

. ... 
Dear Dave;

Thanks for all of your advice and assistance on this, my first project.

Here's what I did:

I went to the local Craft store and purchased a rather large 8x10 1/2 x 5"
box. These are not the sturdiest things created as they are primarily
Basswood, but...  I was itching to get going so I figured it would suffice.

Now I took two pieces of Mottled Oak and cut them to fit the top and bottom
of the box made some designs and followed the manufacture's directions for
the glue "Titebond Wood and Carpenters Glue" What a mess. 8 hours of work
down the tubes because their directions state to apply glue to both pieces
to be glued. After taking another hour or two scraping off the ruined and
bubbled veneer, I started fresh with contact cement. I'll have to admit that
it does stick fast & I had no immediate bubbling or delam, but there are way
too many draw backs for using the product.

Contact Glue stinks to high heaven and has more cautionary statements than 3
Mile Island. Further, as it bleeds through small seams it becomes a
nightmare to sand. It never really hardens and just kind of stretches and
smears when sanded. I guess there is a reason they call it "rubber cement".
I know that in the end the veneers may shift and bubble due to the
elasticity of the adhesive, but at the time I thought that it was the "best"
option available. Now I know better.

I used a variety of woods on this box for a couple of reasons. 1) being that
the bugger was so big, I didn't have enough of any one wood for the back
ground of the whole thing and 2) I wanted to "get the feel" of as many
different woods as possible, this being my first time working with this

The top is an Oak background with a white pine box and bulbinga center. I
tried to use the grain of the pine to create the depth of a shadow box.
Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, it depends on at which angle you
see the top. The front has the Bulbinga as a background with Mottled
Movingue, Swiss Pear, Bloodwood, Tiger Oak and another wood, (I have
forgotten which species) as accent inlays from Left to Right. If you look
closely you can see that the bloodwood diamond shape over laps both the
bottom and the top of the box. I boogered the alignment on this by about 2
milimeters. It doesn't sound like much, but you can tell when you're looking
at the piece.

I did remedy this when working on the sides, but working with the contact
glue made this difficult at best. Now I used a dark reddish wood for the
background of the side (of course, I have forgotten what it is called, but
you probably recognize it) and then three inlayed squares, the first one I
forgot again the name of the wood, but the second one is wormy maple, and
the  third is the bulbinga again. (It really is a nifty wood).

Once I finshed adhering the six veneer sides, I sanded, sanded and then
sanded some more to make sure all the wood thicknesses matched as closely
and smoothly as possible. I applied 8 coats of Formby's Tung oil (Glossy
Finish) for a nice finish. I like the Tung Oil more than Polyeurethane, but
I guess that's just a personal thing.

I tied the whole thing up with a few tiny hinges from Sears. A word to the
much wiser: Don't buy hinges with little brads to attach your hinges on a
basswood box. Buy the ones with screws. My top is "wiggley" and there's not
much I can do about it now.

As for my opinion on the woods: I never liked the look of Oak, and now I can
honestly say that I hate that wood. It is almost as hard as steel to cut
with an exacto or utility knife and that had me crabby. What I have left
I'll save for small accent designs and cut it on my scroll saw or welding
torch exclusively. I think I need to put Bloodwood in this category as well.
Even though I like the look of the wood, when I wasn't splitting the
corners, I dreaming of the day when my knife would finally break through the
other side.

Swiss Pear and afew others like pine cut like a dream and I think would be
great for curved designs that are being done by hand. The lighter woods seem
to be the one that cut more easily, so that makes them perfect for
contrasting a heavy background. Since they cut more readily, I think these
are perfect for the beginner like me. These I like alot.

All in all I think it was a pretty good attempt and a wonderfull learning
experience. I have finished a second box already and will forward you that
under a different cover.

Dear Dave;

Shortly after the construction of my first box (which is for my husband,
Dave) my 9 year old wanted one as well so off to the craft store I went. The
box is aprox 8x5x2 this time, perfect size to use one piece for the

I choose Cherry. My daughter and I laid out a simple design of squares and I
started the cutting. I made quite  few changes in the construction
techinques so here's what I did:

I first cut out the top and bottom panels, making sure they were just a hair
oversized. I went back to the wood glue after our conversation, but I think
the weather was too dry for the dip and roll techinque we talked about (as
the glue dried almost as soon as it was applied), so I modified that.
Starting at the edges of the botton I placed very small dolops of wood glue
using a roller to spread it as thinly, evenly and quickly as possible. I
then attached the bottom veneer in place, clamped it and put it on the side
to dry.

I then took the top veneer and began my work. This time I cut the squares
out from the back of the veneer and taped them in place with scotch tape.
Flipped the piece over and then added masking tape on the front side. I
found that if I cut a square out of the back ground and used the background
as the template for the insert, my seams were smaller. I also like the
"backwards method" as I often let my knife slip and end up with gouges and
scratches in the veneer that are ugly. If I slip on the back, when it is
glued on, no body sees the mistake! Now the two tape method may seem
tedious, but, it helped me recognize the back from the front. Masking tape
is also easier to see for removal purposes. (Yes, I actually left some on
the first box and didn't find it until after I started applying the Tung

I glued up the front using the drop and roll method and set it up to cure.
After both top and bottom were completely set, I took the box and  sanded
the edges smooth and removed that little extra I had left before. I
rubberbanded it together as it would be in the finished product. I then I
cut out the sides of the box, again leaving the little hair extra all
around. I glued the bottom side into place and then used my knife to cut off
the top side. Then glued that. Once all four sides were set I repeated the
steps of sanding the extra off and then cutting the front. What this
accomplished for me was fewer "seen" seams. The seams are basically on the
sides and bottom of the box which gives it a more finished feel.  I know I
could try to cut the ends on a miter but, not by hand, I am not good enough.
I have concocted a way to this, but I'll try it first and then let you know
how it comes out.

Anyway 5 coats of Tung Oil finished my daughter's box and she is happier
than a clam. I think it's a pretty nifty little gift. It cost probably less
than $10 in material and she'll love this thing for ever.

Thanks once again, Dave!


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