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The “Pretty Firewood” Box

December 1, 2013


I have been trying my hand at low relief carving.  Part of the learning process was to do some of the sample exercises from Peter Follansbee’s DVDs.  I just used some random planks of green oak left over from the joined stool project.  Once I had made a few I declared them to be “pretty firewood.” After receiving a stern glare from my wife, I promised not to toss them out, but to make a box out of them.

This is the results of that process. I patterned it off of the boxes that Peter F. makes; there is no risk of confusing the two.  There are 1500s boxes generally called Bible Boxes that are carved in the same manner, although they tend to be only carved on one face (front), or sometimes three faces (front and sides).  The top and bottom are pine in the colonial American fashion.  It looks a little strange to my modern eye.  I thinned out the pine with planes and then chamfered it using a rabbet plane .

The box is nailed together with cut nails because the carved planks are too thin to use wood pegs.  They are rabbeted and over all seal pretty well.  I really like the pattern on the top of the till: A row of bullets, centered on the piece.  The parallel lines are done with the scratch stock that I made.


The “front” has mostly V tool carving (it was an exercise in using that tool).  I added little U shaped cuts one the corners, a detail that I really liked and have seen on several pieces in auction catalogs.


The sides are “S Leaf” patterns from the second DVD by Peter F.  I like this design; it is a bit more complex, so the design uses all 5 of the carving tools that I own.  The wooden peg hinge was pretty easy to make. I did run into trouble because the back is not flat so a little of the top of the carving got removed.

The finish is a linseed oil, no stain was used on it.

The sides are roughly an hour each to carve. The front and back were quicker, about twenty minutes each.  It takes longer to square up and plane the board to prepare it for carving than it does to do the actual carving.  I’d guess that whole box has 10 or 15 hours of work it in.

This was a successful project using mostly leftover or reclaimed pieces. I’ll do more carved boxes in the future.

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