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Ailsa Craig Box Completed

May 24, 2019

Wow, I’ve really neglected my blog! I feel terrible! But the only thing to do about it is to just pick right back up with it and make some posts, right? Let’s start with the finished Ailsa Craig box!

After the dovetails were fitted and tuned properly, I worked on the lid – shaping it and inlaying the Ailsa Craig stone cabochon. I really like this sort of detailed work…

Bog Oak Lid 02

Centering the stone onto the lid.

Bog Oak Lid 03

Removing waste…

Bog Oak Lid 05

This is the variety of detail tools I use for this sort of task.

Hmmm… I don’t appear to have a picture of the lid with the cab inlaid but no finish yet, so we will just move on. And really all that was left was to inlay my stamp into the bottom, a bit of final sanding, the glue up, and the finish! I decided to go with a blond shellac finish that I knocked back to a matte sheen and then a coat of Alfie Shine, an all-natural wax based on a recipe from the 1800’s, I believe (which also makes a great beard wax).

Bog Oak Box Completed 02

Dovetail details

Bog Oak Box Completed 04

More dovetail details

Bog Oak Box Completed 03

A picture of the interior, with green suede cloth on the bottom and Spanish Cedar lining.

Bog Oak Box Completed 07


Bog Oak Box Completed 08

Underside detail of my signature stamp

The stamp was made into the end grain of a piece of beech I harvested from a defunct Stanley Transitional plane that dated to the late 1800’s. I inlaid it into the underside of the box; I enjoy leaving my mark on the things I create, but I don’t think it should ever be in a prominent spot where it detracts from the overall design of the piece.

Bog Oak Box Completed 01

Completed Ailsa Craig Box

Bog Oak Box Completed 06

Clean, contemporary lines and classic construction techniques make for a subtle design that will appeal to many people.

The client contacted me immediately upon receiving the box to let me know it had arrived safely and just how pleased he was with the final outcome. He said it was better than anything he expected and was impressed with my packing skills (I double-boxed it, with foam packing material protecting the box inside the first packing box and between the first and second packing boxes; there was no way this thing was going to get damaged during transport).

This box was a great challenge for me. I was quite pleased with how well the dovetails turned out, especially since the bog oak was such a challenge to work with! I mean, if you think about it, the 100 year old reclaimed white oak I periodically use is more difficult to work with than contemporary white oak. Bog oak is white oak that is 50 times older than the reclaimed barn wood! But it’s still fun to work with and the end result is always worth it.

I believe for my next few boxes, I’m going to be finishing up some boxes I’ve had in my Incomplete Projects box for several years now. And maybe what I will do is try and finish a few boxes and try to sell them with a few minor customizations instead of starting from scratch when I get a commission.


8 Comments leave one →
  1. May 26, 2019 1:21 pm

    Great to see an update, Ethan! That box was lovely and I’m sure the client will have been delighted.

    Liked by 1 person

    • May 26, 2019 7:40 pm

      Many thanks, Kieran! He was very pleased with it, I think. It was a cool project in that he and Rab (the guy who makes the sgian dubh I usually end up making boxes for) asked me to make something for him. They gave me a (small) piece of bog oak and a cabochon that matched the one set in the pommel of the knife, but that was the only instruction I received. The rest was up to me.

      That can be difficult, especially if you don’t know the person or what they like/don’t like. But it’s a fun challenge. Coming up with good design is about 50% of the work for me. Good execution is about 45%. Now that I’ve found Odie’s Oil, finish is about 5%. As long as I plane/scrape/sand to my desired level, I really can’t screw it up with that finish.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ron permalink
    May 26, 2019 7:20 pm

    Holy carp, that’s really beautiful! Well done!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Brian Eve permalink
    May 28, 2019 2:08 am

    It’s beautiful. That bog oak is really black, and stunning.

    Liked by 1 person

    • May 28, 2019 7:54 am

      And expensive! It’s like when Shannon is planing ebony and talks about how much money he loses after each swipe of the plane.

      I’m happy to use bog oak in every piece, but I’m not sure how often I’ll be using it to actually make the box in the future. Lots of stress with each cut.

      But I had lots of fun with it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Brian Eve permalink
        May 28, 2019 7:58 am

        I think I know how you feel. I have a hunk of bog oak that I was given, and so far I’ve been scared to use it for anything. Sadly, that’s not the only example of fancy wood I have.

        Liked by 1 person

      • May 28, 2019 8:03 am

        Bah. Might as well use it, brother. Better to use it, I think.

        Liked by 1 person

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