Spalted Maple Box

Over labor day weekend of 2015, some family came for a visit and my brother-in-law brought me a gift of some spalted maple.  The boards were from a tree that died at his work and were sawn on the Woodmizer there.  Since they were still pretty green, I stacked them in my shed workshop.  This past June or July (2016) I went through all the boards and sawed the rough pieces for a bible box similar to many of Peter Follansbee’s designs.  I stacked the pieces for the box in my house for more than a month to help get the moisture content as low as I could before starting to final dimension the pieces.

At summer’s end I began work on the box.  I had planned to construct the box using rabbet and nail construction.   I even found a local blacksmith to make some hand wrought nails for the piece.  However, I blew out the side of the maple box with the first of those nails.  This splitting issue occurred even after I drill a tapered pilot hole of what I thought was the appropriate width and depth.  Clearly my experience with nailed pieces in poplar and pine didn’t translate well to this maple; learned a good lesson about hard hardwoods.  So I decide to switch gears, remade one of the box carcass pieces, and opted for dovetail construction.  Also learned that fitting hand sawn dovetail joints with such a hard wood is also more challenging than the softer woods I typically use.  Working through the fall it is now competed.  Finished with two coats of Danish oil and looking good.

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