Sassafras bowl

It’s the leaves and bark of the sassafras which are aromatic — once the bark is off the log,  the aroma is lost. The wood remains handsome though, its dark end grain giving way to a pale yellow along the grain.

 

The bowl is about 4 ½” in diameter and 2″ tall. Turned form a wet blank already showing some splits, it remained relatively stable during its time on the lathe. The exterior was charred with a propane before an oil and wax finish was applied.

Sassafras is brittle and, as I pushed the limits on how thin a bowl I could achieve (3/32″ at the sides and bottom), the rim did break in places.

It’s a pleasure to use this bowl which might explain why I did not give it away. It’s quite light, mimicking the delicate potato chips which sometimes fill it.

Thanks go to my sister Kay and her husband Greg for providing the blank.

Sassafras bowl

Picture Rail

Built to not just hang prints but also to support album covers, this picture rail was built as a gift for friends.

The bi-folding, flush doors seen in the corners of 2 images are my paid work — built to close their salon when in use as a bedroom for overnight guests.

The rail is built with 4 pieces: a backer (1) which anchors the assembly to the wall, an upper rail (2) to support the album covers (the final was grooved, not lipped), a dowel (3) to support hooks for framed prints; in concert with the dowel, a cove (4) finishes the backing wall support and echoes the original crown of the space. Those two pieces also work together to conceal the wall anchors.

The wood is clear pine, selected for its light weight and paintability. Painting the rail was essential — not just to maintain the spirit of the apartment trim but for adjusting the rail to walls that are neither straight nor square.

Picture Rail

Dice cups

A travel-size backgammon set purchased as a gift came without dice cups. I asked the game seller: “Do you sell dice cups which I can use with this set?” “No.” Following with what seemed to be a gaming-world snoot, he noted these are not needed: “I’ve never used dice cups to play backgammon. And look at how shallow the board is, no dice cup is going to fit into that.” He was pointing at half of the open set.

I thought about arguing the point about the depth of the space with the board closed but the look on his face told me that he would not accept this nor, perhaps, any known laws of physics.

Instead…challenge accepted. Bonus: a follow-up birthday gift.

Settled by the fire in Shepherdstown with the inside air temperature at 55° and a whisky perched nearby, I sketched a pair of dice cups. I had 2 criteria to meet: 1) I must use material on hand & 2) I must complete the project in less than a day.

A short detour to a video on turning lidded boxes provided the last hint to what might be a success — turn 2 cups which acted as lids for each other. I turned a quick mockup to reveal any kinks in the process and selected a piece of myrtle from a stash of turning blanks for the final. I was done with plenty of time to pack and catch my plane.

The fit of the cups is such that they separate with a satisfying pop. The thickness of the cup wall and the density of the wood yield a lovely tone with the shake of the dice.

Only one question remained: Did I close the flue?

The cups when joined are 4 ¾” (120mm) tall × 1 ½” (33mm) around. The hollow is 1″ (25mm) in diameter.

Dice cups

Pear wood bowl

Turned over the course of a few days…getting my seasonal feet wet on the lathe with something bigger than usual.

This bowl came from a half-log section given to me by our arborist some years ago. The wood is undoubtedly still wet although it feels and behaves as if dry — for the moment. Two hairline cracks appeared while turning. Sanding and finishing bowls remains a struggle for me — I spent some time trying to eliminate the flats in the interior curve with moderate success. Sanding marks remain. Sometimes its necessary to move on to the next thing.

I gave this bowl to a visitor from Connecticut. She’s a childhood friend of my sister who also appreciates the view and the food here.

Pear wood bowl

Utility closets

DSCF1646Aside from the hardware, this project was completed with scrap material from my atelier and a repurposed bookshelf. The design was adjusted to use only single sheet divisions between each box — aside from the first, each box is, in their means of construction, only three sides and a back. The base, end panels, and trim between the repurposed bookcase await completion. The door finish will be paint to match the wall when final painting on this section of the apartment is complete. The bookshelf is from the year 2000.

Utility closets