Monday, December 31, 2012

A Special Christmas Gift



I only made one piece this year as a Christmas gift. I believe that's one more than I made last year though, so I'm making progress. This year's gift was for my dad. I usually try to get him a nice bottle of bourbon or something; an unusual or small batch product. Well this year while looking around, I saw a bottle of Laird's 7 1/2 year aged apple brandy, non blended. Laird's Apple Jack was my dad's dad's drink of choice when he was at his hunting cabin, ( He bought 251 acres of land in the mountains near Berkley Springs West Virginia in 1957, which my dad still has ), and my dad likes it every now and then also, so I'd found what I was looking for.

Now my dad's dad was a bit of a woodworker himself and I've got some cherry that was his that is probably 50 or 60 years old. I got it about 20 years ago and it had been planed down to 3/4" but obviously with some very dull planer knives. It was riddled with tear-out, so I planed it all down to 1/2" thick stuff. Well, after buying the bottle of apple brandy, I thought how cool would it be to make a box out of that cherry that came from my dad's dad to hold the bottle that my dad's dad liked to drink? Pretty cool I thought. So I decided on a sliding lid candle box type design sized to fit the afore mentioned bottle. Turned out to be a really enjoyable little project to build. I took a minimalistic approach as far as the tools I used. The corners are through dovetailed, the bottom or back just nailed on with reproduction headless brads from Kennedy Hardware ( nice stuff ), and I just used a marking gauge and a chisel and mallet to cut the grooves for the lid to slide in. I find it fun sometimes to askew specialty tools like a plow plane for a chisel and mallet. Anyway, after about 8 hours or so of work I was really pleased with the way it turned out. So much so that I'll be making myself one soon. For a finish, I applied a coat of True Oil, let it dry, and then buffed it out with fine steel wool. Because of it's age I suppose, this cherry has such a warm patina to it right away and it really begs for a simple finish. I made a bunch of cherry shavings from some of the scraps and used these to pack the bottle in the box. I find this packing much more attractive than styrofoam peanuts. :-)

Anyhow, Dad came down day before yesterday for his Christmas visit and he was very pleased indeed. Especially with the box being made from the cherry that was his dad's. Nothing can compare to the joy a woodworker gets from seeing how much a loved one appreciates a project you have made for them. Makes you want to get right back out in the shop and build more gifts.

Oh and by the way, we broke into the bottle and toasted Pappy with that apple brandy. That was some really smooth sipping stuff.



Most, but not all, of the tools used to make the box

No, the dovetails aren't perfect, but neither am I 

Really love the warm look of this cherry

A happy gift recipient and the humble cabinet maker

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good story, nice work, glad your Dad was pleased with it. Happy New Year!

sheworkswood.com said...

I really wanna make one of these. I also thought a nice version of The Jointer's Apprentice packing box would make a cool package for a wine gift (with a couple of bottles inside)

Marshal said...

The shavings for packing is the coolest part. Shavings are normally a bi-product. Here they are considered a co-product!

Anonymous said...

Happy New Year Jamie!

Have you had a chance to look at the BreenBush Design blog yet? I see your listed in his “2012 Woodworking Blog Awards” blog.

Dean the envious.

Jamie Bacon said...

Thanks Anon. I really think he was happy with it. And Happy New Year to you.

Jamie Bacon said...

Hi Marilyn. This was a really fun project that doesn't take a long time to do. You should add it to your to do list. I think the J&CM packing box would make a great gift box for a couple wine bottles. And a great piece for other uses afterwards obviously. It's a piece I'd like to build one day.

Jamie Bacon said...

Thanks Marshal. I thought the shavings were a nice touch. Much cooler and more environmentally friendly than styrofoam. :-)

Jamie Bacon said...

Hi Dean. I DID see that. Needless to say I was shocked when I was scrolling down, reading the blog and saw a picture of my shop. Pretty cool! :-)

Anonymous said...

Turned out beautiful Jamie. I'm sure that Eddie will treasure it always.

Mom

Jamie Bacon said...

Thanks Mom. He was pretty touched by the whole thing.

Shannon said...

OK this is really starting to tick me off. What exactly is wrong with those dovetails? I see this every day: someone apologizing for poor joinery when it looks incredible. Who has set this bar so high that we all feel we need to apologize for a gap that no one can see?

Sorry to rant Jamie, you work is beautiful your image caption just set me off as it is the 4 or 5th time I have read something similar in as many minutes.

Jamie Bacon said...

HaHaHa Shannon! My evil plan worked! I put that caption there with the sole intent of pushing you over the edge. :-)

Seriously though, I'm actually happy with those dovetails. They suit my style of work just fine. True hand work. I remember hearing an interview with Adam Cherubini where he said a buddy of his came over and saw his standing desk and commented that it was "pretty rough". Adams response was that he was right, it was pretty rough, but he was comfortable with that kind of work.

I really don't want my dovetails looking like they came off an Incra-Jig or whatever the hot lick dovetail router jig is these days. I was just stating that there are imperfections there, but I am ok with it. My father in law has a bumper sticker on his truck that says "Real Trucks Rattle". Maybe I'll make one that says "Real Dovetails Have Gaps". :-)

Thanks for the compliment on my work by the way. Hope to run into you this Saturday!

Anonymous said...

Jamie, I really like the box you built for your dad’s brandy bottle. However, I was wondering if you think that it would be a good first project for a beginning hand tool woodworker to try? If not maybe a second, third or later project? I’m guessing for a beginner, it would be made of pine and not cherry. :-)

Thanks, Dean

Jamie Bacon said...

Hi Dean. I actually do think this would make probably a good second or third project. First if you're feeling ambitious and don't set your expectations too high. I say it's a good project to tackle early on because it has so many fundamental skills involved in one little project. Obviously you have the through dovetails, but there's also the groove you have to cut for the lid to slide in, a rabbet along three edges of the lid, a semi-circle on the one end of the lid, and a gouge carved spot for your finger on the lid. As for material, I wouldn't be shy to try it in cherry or walnut as it is a small project that won't take a lot of wood. And I find it easier to cut crisp dovetails in hardwood rather than pine.

This is a fun little project and I highly recommend that you give it a shot if you're so inclined. I'll be doing one for myself eventually.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Jamie. I greatly appreciate the explanation. I can see some of the construction details in the pictures, but for a newbie, I’d be doing a lot of guessing. If you do build one of these for yourself in the future, and show the basic construction details, I can jump in at that point.

Thanks again, Dean

Eddie Bacon said...

Hey Everyone, I was very touched with this gift. It has a lot of special meanings to it. Alot of which most of you don't know.One thing I will tell you is that Jamie comes by his woodworking talent honestly. My Dad and His Moms Dad both have an extensive background working with wood and I myself have dabbled in it my whole life. What I will tell you though is that Jamie has taken the whole woodworking trade to a very high craftsmanship level that everyone is so proud of. Congratulations to you Son.

Jamie Bacon said...

Thanks dad. That means a lot coming from you. I'm thankful that I was exposed to woodworking and carpentry and mechanics in general at an early age. And I'm glad you had some woodworking tools in the basement that you allowed me to learn on. Thanks for all you taught me.