Blood, Sweat, and Tears

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Project by BenR posted 09-24-2011 10:42 PM 4345 views 22 times favorited 43 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Hello Lumberjocks,

The title says it all! I’ve been working on this since May almost every weekend. Before that, I practiced dovetails until I could hardly stand it. The wood is walnut, with poplar as the secondary wood. The finish is Watco Danish oil, clear shellac, and wax. First time trying inlay and stringing, dovetails on a case piece, and a mortised lock.
First time working with crotch wood too, and what a bear it was. First I tried to plane it and I just tore it up. Then I tried to use a card scraper. That worked fine until I needed to sharpen it (just couldn’t get the hang of that burr). Finally, I just sanded it to 320 or so and let it be. Great, ready for the finish. I brushed on the shellac, and got streaks on the crotch. I removed it, sanded some more, and tried again – same thing. Out came the denatured alcohol and I tried again. This time I thinned the shellac to 1/3 strength and tried again – same thing. I removed it again, and finally sprayed on shellac from a can. The crotch turned out beautifully at last.
The third pic shows the interior tray, which has that air cushion ride down. The fifth pic captures how striking that crotch is. The last pic is the crotch before cutting to size.

All in all, the box was quite a challenge to me; nothing about it is perfect, but I do feel proud of it. Comments or suggestions welcome.


-- Ben in Va

43 comments so far

View DaddyT's profile


267 posts in 4114 days

#1 posted 09-24-2011 11:02 PM

That’s BEAUTIFUL!! I tend to have the same problem with shellac lol.

-- Jimi _ Measure twice, cut [email protected]#%#[email protected]!!!......measure twice, cut....

View Chris 's profile


1880 posts in 4595 days

#2 posted 09-24-2011 11:46 PM

That’s a lot of firsts in one project! Great job.

-- "Everything that is great and inspiring is created by the individual who labors in freedom" -- Albert Einstein

View Dennis Zongker's profile

Dennis Zongker

2801 posts in 4196 days

#3 posted 09-25-2011 12:16 AM

WOW!!! Very Beautiful. You did a great job. Just one question: Is the Top solid? it looks like it is. Then if the solid edging on the sides of the top. Might cause the top to crack only because of the wood expanding and contracting. If it’s veneer then you will be fine.
The stringing and inlay look incredible!!!

-- Dennis Zongker

View willie's profile


534 posts in 3058 days

#4 posted 09-25-2011 12:36 AM

Very nice work! Crotch walnut is a bear to work but the rewards are worth it. One of the most beautiful woods on the planet and my favorite!

-- Every day above ground is a good day!!!

View majeagle1's profile


1426 posts in 4100 days

#5 posted 09-25-2011 01:04 AM

OMG – this is fantastic Nikki….... I love the entire project !!!
The walnut crotch wood is just beautiful and the fine details that you seem to have mastered in the inlay and stringing look perfect to me !!!
Then you look at the overall design and…... EVERYTHING just seems to pull together and compliment each other… this is a job well done for sure !!!

I can’t believe that these are “firsts” for you…... just beautiful !

-- Gene, Majestic Eagle Woodworks,,

View Bill Szydlo's profile

Bill Szydlo

67 posts in 3291 days

#6 posted 09-25-2011 01:12 AM

Fantastic job! Your inlay and stringing are wonderful. Just curious, what did you use to do the inlay stringing work?

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

23740 posts in 3709 days

#7 posted 09-25-2011 01:24 AM

Wow…..............That is an excellent piece!!!!

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View mauibob's profile


245 posts in 3671 days

#8 posted 09-25-2011 01:45 AM

Very nice job, Nikki! In fact, an awesome job for so many firsts!

Just remember that 19th century quilt makers used to deliberately place an error in their quilt design so that they didn’t appear too “prideful”. Those tiny errors (which I cannot see, by the way) are just a similar way to remind us woodworkers not to take ourselves too seriously!

-- Bob, Potomac, MD

View Michael1's profile


403 posts in 3264 days

#9 posted 09-25-2011 03:05 AM

Absolutely Beautiful piece of art. I love the inlay and stringing. Is the stringing poplar as well? If it is then that is a extraordinary feat as well as I haven’t had success with bending poplar. Very well done. One of my favorites!!

-- Michael Mills, North Carolina,

View MarkR2's profile


22 posts in 3069 days

#10 posted 09-25-2011 03:30 AM

Very nicely executed with excellent materials – I have to try stringing someday and after seeing this it may be soon

View a1Jim's profile


117905 posts in 4181 days

#11 posted 09-25-2011 03:36 AM

Love it way cool a fine job and a piece to be proud of.


View BenR's profile


341 posts in 3232 days

#12 posted 09-25-2011 03:50 AM

Thanks to everyone for their generous comments!
Dennis – The top is solid. The top has a lip in the center, and that is fitted into a slot in the edging. The front edging is gluded on and only the first couple of inches of the sides are gluded. I hope this will allow for movement. Let me know your thoughts on this technique.
Gene – nothing is mastered believe me!
Bill – the stringing is holly (which I ordered online) and I used a woodburning pen to bend it. I used the round part of the pen (before the tip) to round it on. At first, I just kept breaking the stringing. It is a long lesson in patience. I used a woodcutting tool from Lie-Neilson to cut the arcs.
cjwillie – agree crotch walnut is at the top of the pile of wood
Michael – have never tried poplar. This is the first attempt – used holly. Nice compliment that this is a piece of art.
Bob – there are no deliberate mistakes like the quilters made; just mistakes. I won’t tell you where they are though!
Again, thanks for your comments.

-- Ben in Va

View BenR's profile


341 posts in 3232 days

#13 posted 09-25-2011 03:57 AM

MarkR2 – try it! It is not as hard as it looks. While bending, it just takes patience, patience, .......
Thanks Jim
P. S. here is a shot of the tools used:

-- Ben in Va

View AttainableApex's profile


347 posts in 3437 days

#14 posted 09-25-2011 04:42 AM

dam, nice work

-- Ben L

View tomd's profile


2216 posts in 4374 days

#15 posted 09-25-2011 04:45 AM

That is one great piece, just beautiful. Terrific craftsmanship, congradulations on a nice piece of art.

-- Tom D

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