When starting out in woodworking, most individuals are looking for a cheap source of lumber. Firewood is a fantastic source of lumber because it is riven and that will provide a much more stable piece of wood. Many projects that people will work on are small enough to come out of a piece of firewood, the key is processing the firewood and turning it into lumber that can be used. This may be very confusing in the beginning, but can be made very simple once you understand how to flatten the sides and cut from them.
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Fire Wood: Backyard?
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Step 1: Choosing Your Firewood
When choosing firewood, look for a piece that is a little bigger than what you need. The reason being, you will be taking off a decent amount of material and removing some of the twist from it. For example, if you want a piece that is 3in by 3in, I would suggest finding a piece that is at least three ½in by three ½ in, if not more. In addition, unless you want the figure, you are going to want a straight grained piece of wood; making it easier to work with and more stable for the future. For this project, I chose a piece of white oak. One of the things I like about white oak is that you can get the ray figure showing on one of the sides because it is split radially.
Step 2: Flattening Two Sides
The first step you want to do is flatten one side. I accomplish this with a scrub plane and a pair of winding sticks until I get one side that doesn't have any twist or warping to it. Next, I roll the piece of firewood 90° and do the exact same thing to the second side. However, with this side I will make sure that it stays 90 degrees to the first side. Once this is done, you can now mark out for cutting the boards out of it. These two sides will then become your reference sides for all future cuts.
Step 3: Cutting Boards From the Firewood
I used a marking gauge to mark off 5 lines running vertically down the piece of wood a ¼ inch apart from one of the reference sides into the board. I then cut vertically down these lines; on mine, I cut down about 10 in and stop just before hitting the bench. That will be enough to provide four sides of the box and two end caps. I chose to use my large roubo frame saw because it makes the cut very fast and a lot of fun. The saw is not that difficult to make, but if you do not have one a handsaw will do just fine it just might take a little bit longer.
Step 4: Cutting Lumber to Sizes
I purposefully did not cut all the way through the length of the firewood. With all the pieces still connected, I can take it over to the bench hook and cut off all five little boards that I just made at once. At this point, I chose to make the box a little bit shorter which meant that I only needed four of the five boards and ended up cutting them all down to 7 ½ in. This way I have four boards that are 7 ½ by 2in wide and then four more boards that are 2 ½ by 2 in wide. Next, I trimmed all the boards down to their final dimensions, making sure that all the corners are square. The top, bottom, front, and back are all the same size 7 ½ by 2 in. The two end caps need to be the same size at 2in by 2in.
Step 5: Cutting Rabbets
For this box, I chose to make all the joints rabbets. I cut in about ⅛ in by the thickness of my boards, which is about a ¼ inch. To cut the rabbets, I used my Stanley 55, but a rabbeting plane would work just as well if not better since it would be quicker to set up. On the end caps, I cut a rabbet on just the two outside edges where the end caps connect to the front and back panel. On the top and bottom piece I cut a rabbet on all four sides. Take your time making these cuts, taking time occasionally to make sure that they fit together.
Step 6: Gluing Up the Box
For glue, I chose CA Glue from 2P10. On a small project like this, it is a fantastic and quick glue. I used the thin glue with activator to lock the boards in place temporarily and then used a thicker gel to soak into the joints and hold them permanently. I glued all four sides to the bottom and made sure that the top was loose and fit well. After glue set, I came in with the hand plane and smoothed out all the edges and joints and added a large chamfer to all the corners.
Step 7: Carving the Details
I chose to add some Celtic carving to this with a V tool. The carving is pretty quick. I spent about an hour carving the box and it really made all the difference in the world to the final project. When I want to carve, I find a pattern that I like on Google and print it off. I then apply the pattern to the wood with a glue stick. Then, just like tracing a line with a pencil, I trace the lines on the pattern with a V tool carving chisel. The sounds very intimidating to some people, but trust me, with five minutes of practice anyone can do this type of carving. I used a small amount to tap it along the lines to give it a nice clean-cut. After all the carving is completed, the pattern can be peeled off with a card scraper and then we can move on to finishing.
Step 8: Finishing the Box
For a finish, I chose boiled linseed oil and paste wax. On a small project like this one, I really like the way it feels and looks leaving a very original look to the wood without a protective glossy finish. First, I applied several coats of boiled linseed oil and let it set for about 15 minutes. Then I wiped off the excess and let it sit for an hour or two. Lastly, I came back in with paste wax and buff that in. Once done, you're left with a great box that can be used for whatever you want to store in a pretty little shape.
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