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Thread: Serpentine Chest Build- Part 3 Done – inlay, carving lots of pics

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
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    Carlsbad, CA
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    Serpentine Chest Build- Part 3 Done – inlay, carving lots of pics

    This is a small chest in walnut with serpentine front roughly 17” wide x 12” deep x 10” tall and three drawers. Motivation is of course, to have something to do during the quarantine, but also to try out a new technique – serpentine drawer fronts with veneered surfaces. I don’t really have room/need for full-size furniture, so I’m doing this on a smaller scale that hopefully I can find a place for somewhere in the house.

    Previous parts one and two of this build are under separate thread. I just added part two to the end of the original thread so not sure many people are able to see it. Those involved carcass construction and carving of the front columns.

    The top, bottom of the case, horizontal dividers all have to fit the curve of the drawer fronts that were the first step in this process. For me, I just traced drawer fronts to create a template for carcass bottom.








    Here’s the shaping and dry fit.




    Bracket feet were a challenge as their oriented at a 45° angle to carcass front/sides. Again full-size drawings were helpful. Here’s pics of sawing, shaping and dry fit.














    Pictures of the finished molding with floral elements at either end.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
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    Carlsbad, CA
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    Somewhere in the design phase I ended up with an extra inch of vertical space after the three drawers were completed. Didn’t really intend it but became cornice molding to hide hidden drawer – because who doesn’t like hidden compartments?



    Looked a little plane so tried to add “Egg and dart” carving to molding. Instruction from “carving architectural details in Wood” by Frederick Wilber. Highly recommended carving reference – great pictures for us visual learners.









    Dividers established spacing and #5 gouge to incise primary shapes.




    #7 gouge to excise waste under “dart”.




    Development of darts.



    With rough shaped established, next was refining “egg” shape.



    Pictures of the finished molding with floral elements at either end.









  3. #3
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    Feb 2011
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    Line and Berry inlay for carcass top. Here’s pencil layout in hopes actual grooves will end up in the right place. Use Lee Valley inlay tools. Fenced group cutter was excellent for long, straight edges, but curves and small straight edges on the front were done free-hand.






    Essential parts of LV inlay kit are small chisel size to fit the groove with and “Hook” shaped cutter – has cutting edges like a crosscut saw tooth – super helpful for establishing groove with working off freehand Exacto knife line.




    This pic shows reference lines initially established by Exacto knife and to the right, margin of groove cut with hook shaped cutter.






    With outside border grooves established, next up was paper pattern for central design. The pros can probably do this right on the work surface, but for me paper layout was essential. Especially helpful to establish pivot points and radius is for curves.







    Here’s initial grooves established with inlay cutter working off central pivot point. In the past I tried to avoid the cutter pivot point Mark on the work surface by using an acrylic pad. That didn’t really work too well because if the pivot point moves even slightly that’s can create big problems. Now I just live with the mark.



    I used dividers to establish the pivot point, relative to existing circles for cutting the curves that will be the “fans” in the central design. Consistency is more important than accuracy if you want all the tips to meet.




    Here is first step in filling the grooves with Holly stringing. Getting correctly dimensioned stringing is critical and for me always time-consuming; too thick and stringing doesn’t fit all the way to the bottom of the groove, which means it can disappear and final surfacing. Too thin, and it leaves gaps.




    Where grooves cross/overlap it’s best to fill one groove with stringing before cutting the overlapping portion. I kinda did that here. If I was thinking, I would’ve done the square outermost groove before cutting curved sections in the corner.




    One of the biggest challenges, and for me an indicator of quality string inlay is getting a nice tight fit where grooves come together to form a point. I try and get the groove close to the point using the inlay cutter and finish the final portion with X-Acto knife.



    I use a paring chisel to remove most of the waste and card scraper for final surfacing.


    Last edited by Mike Allen1010; 06-01-2020 at 9:37 PM.

  4. #4
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    First step in the finish was Watco oil varnish mix wet sanded with 600 grit. As I mentioned before, I think this helps fill the pores as prep for French polish.






    Surface finish was 6-8 coats of shellac “French polish” applied with cotton pad. After light initial surface coat, I sprinkle rotten stone and use a felt pad to further fill the pores, before final finish coats.



    Here’s some pics of the completed box. Still waiting on small brass knobs for poles.

















    Seems our younger Boy might be getting ready to “pop the question” with his longtime girlfriend. What do you think, could this be an engagement gift? Maybe jewelry box?

    Is "engagement gift" even a thing?

    Thanks for looking,

    Best Mike

  5. #5
    Mike,

    As always, beautiful work. I'm male and I would love it as an engagement gift. BTW, it only took me 16 years to get around to it, there is no need for him to hurry but if he does, congrats.

    ken

  6. #6
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    springfield,or
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    Mike that is truly beautiful work.

  7. #7
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    Nov 2007
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    Edwardsville, IL.
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    Just beautiful. If I lived next door, you would have a pest sitting on your shop steps every day. Just waiting to learn more. "I bow to thee O Master of Wood works."

  8. #8
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    Lubbock, Tx
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    Spectacular as always!

  9. #9
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    Feb 2011
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    Thanks guys for the kind comments.

    The San Diego County fair annually has a juried woodworking show called "Design in Wood" that consistently has lots of truly beautiful furniture, musical instruments, boxes etc. I've entered a number of pieces over the years but have never won anything. In the beginning I never cared about winning, I was just glad to have a piece accepted. However over the last couple years, I'm embarrassed to admit I really did want to win.

    When I started this project I was thinking I might enter this box. I'm to fat and lazy to try and move larger casework. Unfortunately with the pandemic the fair and the show are canceled this year. In the grand scheme of things certainly nothing to complain about. Oh well there's always next year.

    Cheers, Mike

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
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    Missouri
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    I’m getting to the point that I only expect to see real quality work from you. With this one you have the bar set to a stratospheric height. Can hardly wait for the next one. What a great gift that will be.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    N. Idaho
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    Mike,

    I can only echo others-outstanding work! And best of luck to all should your son decide to use the box for an engagement ring-that would instantly turn it into a family heirloom!

    Also, am enjoying seeing the progress in your carving, which I suspect was quite the challenge in a piece this small.

    Best,
    Chris
    "You can observe a lot just by watching."
    --Yogi Berra

  12. #12
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    Mar 2015
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    SE Michigan
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    Wow, Mike, raised the bar again. I too enjoy using the inlay tools. Time, patience and a good pair of magnifiers makes it go pretty well. I think who ever may get it, will be very lucky. If you don’t mind the suggestion, I don’t think it would be a bad thing to fill the center point with a “berry”.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Perth, Australia
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    7,346
    Mike, it looks amazing, and your workmanship keeps getting better, if that is possible.

    Handles?

    Engagement gift? I guess it depends on the girl.

    Wood show entry? Definitely!

    Regards from Perth

    Derek

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Brewster, New York
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    160
    Beautiful job Mike. I always enjoy following your builds.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Fishers, Indiana
    Posts
    512
    Beautiful work Mike!
    Sometimes I think it takes more courage to embark a small piece with very fine details than it does to make large casework. I wish I had your courage.

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