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Getting Started

A while back, my Son and and his fiance' commissioned a "Treasure Box" to hold the best wishes of the people attending their upcoming wedding and receptions (yes 2, 1 in the Seattle area where she is from and 1 in So Cal where He is from, small wedding ceremony to be held in San Francisco)

That is the why, now for the what.

I'm using Plum wood. Why Plum? It's what I have on hand. I harvested and processed what I could of a tree 2 years ago. Tree died of natural causes (Read Heavily pruned and never came back) I blame the nit wit owner attempting to prune stone fruit trees by himself (me).

At any rate I manged to get some scales, pen blanks and enough boards to make this treasure box. Originally I was going to use most of the trunk for Turning Blanks but then I was commissioned for the box, so I processed the turning blanks into boards.

The grains is a bit tricky and i experienced a lot of tear out when planing down the boards Plum is also fairly hard with a Janka rating of 1550 according to the wood database. For comparison Sapele shows as 1500, White Oak is 1333 and Sugar Maple is 1450, so yeah pretty hard stuff.

Here is what the wood database has to say about plum wood
Color/Appearance: Plum heartwood can exhibits a cornucopia of colors, ranging from a yellowish brown, with streaks of pink, orange, red, purple, olive, or gray mixed in. Because of the small size of plum trees, swirled or irregular grain, as well as knots and other defects are common.

Workability: Areas with straight and clear grain are easy to work with hand or machine tools. Care must be taken when surfacing irregular grain or knots to avoid tearout. Plum glues, turns, and finishes well.

I highly recommend a very sharp high angle smoother for smoothing this wood. A good amount of lubrication (wax, grease, oil, whatever you prefer) is also strongly recommended as the sole of the plane likes to grab the interlocking grain. I don;t a High angle smoother and purchasing one is just not an option so I did the next best thing. I ground a 10 degree back bevel on a spare 2" plane iron giving me an effective attack angle 55 degrees and this significantly reduced the tear out.

Here is a sample as it came off of my Band saw.
Table Wood Rectangle Hardwood Gas

The bowl blanks I processed into boards were 11 or so inches long the tree diameter was around 6", so I had to be very careful processing this to limit the waste as much as possible. Even being careful I still had a hard time getting enough stock wide enough for the box sides and tops. I still have some smaller stock which will be used in other projects as accents or small pieces.
Wood Saw Hardwood Wood stain Concrete

I now have 5 plum boards prepared for use in the box. The box dimensions are approximately 10" long, x 6" wide x 5 1/2" material thickness is approximately 3/8" thick.

I have tried full blind dovetails in material of this size and my skills just aren't there yet and I'm not convinced there is enough material for a good joint anyways. I also built a prototype box out of cherry using glued miter joints and that joint is just not strong enough. I have decided to attempt mitered dovetails as described in this video series from Fine Woodwoorking.

I had to glue up a panel for the top as the stock I had remaining would not be wide enough. I also dis not have enough stock for the bottom panel so I used some Poplar that was left over form a project my son and his Fiance' did a while back.

The Panels and boards are all at final dimension, cut to length and ready for the hard work to begin.
Wood Rectangle Natural material Wood stain Hardwood
So far the only power tool I have used is the bandsaw for resawing the trunk into boards.

The bottom panel will be a raised panel the box will actually sit on the raised panel lifting the box slightly and creating a shadow line. You can see I have started the layout for the bottom raised panel I'll cover that in the next blog entry.
That plum wood sure is purty! Looking forward to seeing more.


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