This is the Dragon Claw Ring Box I made for my father. He has always wanted an unusual box ever since I started woodworking. He had planned this for over a year when he found a carved piece of jade that had a dragon on it. Later he found a beautiful piece of poplar wood that had lots of green and purple stripes. He told me that he wanted a box shaped like a dragon's claw. Until I saw the picture he had drawn I wasn't that enthusiastic. Usually I need to see something first, then I go full throttle on a project. Once the vision had been on paper, then I knew what to do...
Step 1: Draw Up Your Desired Shape
My dad drew a design that gave me the basic shape, high spots, low spots, size, etc... This will be my cutting template. I blocked the wood and used a glue stick to attach the paper to the wood block and cut all the pieces together.
Step 2: Cut the Pieces Together
I began using the band saw to cut the pieces outer shape. Be very careful and go in at different angles to get the complicated shapes. Sometimes you have to back out the blade and start at a different angle.
Step 3: Sand All the Cut Surfaces
Using a file, a spindle sander and belt sanders, I got all the exterior surfaces smooth. You just have to pick the right tool for the tightness and shape you have made.
Step 4: Cutting Out the Box Center
Take all the stacked boards apart and the board that will be the containing section, drill a pilot hole, then insert a scroll saw blade in the hole and cut out the middle section leaving enough wood on each side to be strong.
Step 5: Glue and Clamp
Glue and clamp the middle board to the bottom board. Use a good wood glue and allow it time to cure, varies by brand.
Step 6: Notch and Attach Hinge
Notch the middle board to accept a section of piano hinge. These are strong and work well. Use a belt sander to even out the seam of the piano hinge and the wood to make it nice and smooth with no sharp edges.
Step 7: Install Magnets As Clasp
Drill small holes and sink in small cylindrical neodynium magnets top and bottom to use as a magnetic clasp.
Step 8: Carve and Contour
Use hand and or rotary tools to contour the shape to look like a hand or claw in this case. Use your hand as an example and accentuate the knuckles and finger bones. Carve the claws a step from the ends of the fingers as shown or as you desire it to look.
Step 9: Inlay If You Have Something
If you find a nice item to inlay, could be a stone, piece of metal, or up to your imagination. If you have an item, place it on top, then trace around it and use a rotary tool to start carving out the shape. Start well within your drawing lines, and keep trying to re-fit the item. You want it tight so start small and work outward. Use a 2 part epoxy to glue item into opening made. Be careful not to get it on outer surface.
Step 10: Scales
To carve scales, make a half inch criss cross pattern on piece using a sharp wood carving knive. Result should be a bunch of diamond shapes. Use a v-tool to carve into 2 connected sides of the diamond. Start shallow and go deep at point where both cuts touch. Repeat this same pattern for all diamond shapes and you will see a scale like pattern form. Go back and make them deeper to get a better affect.
Step 11: Shield the Fingers From Flame
Use a torch to lightly braze the finger nails to a dark color. Do one at a time. Be ready to blow them out if they catch fire. If they are darker than desired, lightly sand.
Step 12: Coat With Mineral Oil
Use a coat of mineral oil to bring out the color of the wood. In this case we used a beautiful piece of rainbow poplar the had a grain and colors that really accentuated the piece.
Step 13: Results
The results are a pretty neat looking dragon claw ring box that my dad loves.