Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Another Tote

 I sometimes get side tracked as I work on a project, I'll begin to wonder about history or tradition and when I work on a blog I wonder about words.

 On my bench at this moment is another tote box, and I have discovered that Wikipedia and I don't actually use the word in the same way. Now I wonder why I use the word tote to describe a box with a handle used to carry wood working or gardening tools, or other stuff.  I suppose that tote is quicker and easier than saying a 'wooden box with a handle for carrying miscellaneous stuff'.

 Recently I have made a couple of tote boxes for hauling or organising 'stuff' around our home.  I also made a bunch of 'carrier boxes' to go on the back of bicycles this summer. A they totes without handles? If there is no handle I guess it is just a box. 

the box is carefully designed to carry two Six Packs securely.
  A while ago I made a tote for myself and used it as a practise for cutting dovetails.

tote finished with natural walnut stain.
 These projects usually have a simple purpose and are really just boxes, of which I have made 100's.  At this time in my wood working life when I make these boxes I use them to explore or practise a technique, dovetails, or a different finish and so the tote moves from a quick cut and hammer project to something more. I have made a couple with carvings or cut out making the box ornamental as well as useful

  The current wooden box with a handle's simple purpose is to contain shoe polishing related stuff. 

   All these bits and pieces are shoe related.  The bags at the top of the photo are filled with laces, there is a bag of running shoe/boot laces, a bag of pairs of dress shoe laces and a bag of single laces, mostly heavy service type laces that tie up plants and things well.

  When I went to polish my shoes the other day I found a battered card board box and a cookie tie filled with this stuff, very randomly. The cookie tin had a couple of draw backs, first it was with out cookies, second it was round, round stuff does not make efficient use of shelf space. The discovery of the mess was  when I sorted and bagged the laces and decided that a shoe shine box was necessary for further peace of mind.


  The box is a nothing, a mere bagatelle, 1/2 plywood with butt joints hammered together with brads. The interesting part of the project is the handle.

  The handle is shaped from basswood and follows a design that I created using a French Curve.  I actually took longer to decide on and design the handle than it did to make the box.

  Basswood is a popular wood for carvers since it has almost no grain and is very easy to work with hand tools.  After I got the design cut out on my band saw and I went to work with shaping tools.

 This is a list of the tools used to shape the handle:

1. sand paper
2. needle files and rasps 
3. 4 in hand rasp/file

DISC Fein FMM 250Q Select Plus MultiMaster Oscillating Detail Sander Tool Kit 012817410

 Like so many people I came home from a wood show with a MultiMaster kit, amazed at all the things it could do. Then I put it on a shelf and didn't do much at all with it. When I decided to work on the handle I decided to learn what this tool could do for me.  To sand I turn the variable speed way down, the lower speed makes the sanding more manageable and the machine quieter. Once I got the dust collection connected, that involved a couple of adapters, it works very well too.  Having  taken the time to learn to use the tool it will be kept handy and become a 'go to' detail sander.

  The last part of the box will be the finish. The dovetail tote is stained with natural black walnut stain I made my self. The shoe shine box is going to be stained with natural walnut that has been boiled down and concentrated. 

Black Walnut nut and leave detail.JPG

 The basic stain is made by putting black walnuts in their green skin into a bucket of water and being left over winter to rot and leach out colour.  Next I peal the skins off the nuts and crush the pulp from the skins and let it sit some more. After a few more months I strain the lumpy bits out and filter the brown stained water through cheese cloth. I tried coffee filters but they clogged up.

  The dovetail box is stained with the straight brown stained water that was left.  This next box will be stained with concentrated stain, I boiled half the water away and now have a much darker stain with which to work. 

  I expect that staining the box will be a messy business and so have to put it off for a day or two while I go about in public trying to appear civilized. Yes, I know I could wear gloves, and I will, but that never seems to be enough. When I work with glue I get sticky, with paint-coloured, with stain-stained, it is just a gift I guess.

 I'll keep you posted.

cheers, ianw

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