Wood turning, cutting delicate frets with a scroll saw, and whittling are three of my favorite wood-working activities. The problem, when I first started thinking about this project, was how could I incorporate the three techniques to create a single unique item? After a good deal of thought I came up with the notion for this project—a turned box with a pierced lid, with a small amount of knife work in and around the piercing.
The design draws its inspiration from two of my friends, one a wood turner and the other a general wood-worker. However, they both needed a fresh angle to spark off their talents. Well, to cut a long story short, Gill came up with this great idea that they combine their talents so as to halve their workshop expenses and double their money-making potential. The good news is that they now make the most beautiful turned and pierced containers, and they are both scooping up the rewards!
TURNING THE BOX
Though there are any number of ways of turning a small lidded box of this type and character, the best way is to use the four-jaw chuck technique. The procedure is wonderfully simple and direct. Having mounted the wood in the chuck, you start by turning the wood down to a 4″- diameter cylinder, and parting off the tailstock end of the cylinder for the lid. This done, you hollow turn the box and cut the step on the rim, then take the surface to a good finish and part off.
The next step is perhaps slightly tricky. You remount the lid section on the lathe and start by hollowing out the lid and cutting the rim to fit the base. Then you remove the lid from the chuck, turn it over so that the expanding jaws of the chuck fit the inside of the rim, and finish up by turning the top of the lid. Don’t forget to set the lid out with the 1/4″ step-off lines to help later when you set out the design.
SPECIAL TIP: SCROLL SAW LIMITS
If you like the idea of this project but are planning to change the shape of the turned box, or even change the placing of the pierced holes, be mindful that the overall design is more or less governed by the use of the electric scroll saw. For example: As the saw is unable to cut wood thicker than about 1 “, the lid can’t be high and/or domed. Also, the saw can’t be used to fret a pierced design around the box.
All that said, if you are keen to change the pierced design and/or the shape of the lid, you could possibly use a jeweler’s piercing saw or perhaps a fine-blade hand fretsaw. It needs a bit of thinking about.
FRETTING, PIERCING AND WHITTLING THE LID
When you have made the turned box, with the lid nicely set out with the 1/4” guidelines, it’s time to fret out the design. Pencil-press transfer the design through to wood, bore out round holes with appropriate size bits, drill small pilot holes through the “windows” of the design, and fret out the shapes on the scroll saw. Finally, use the point of the knife to trim back the sharp edges of the piercings.
1. When you have sanded and smoothed the lid to a good finish, use the point of the skew chisel to set the lid out with a series of rings. Space them about 1/4″ apart. The idea is that you can use them as a guide to lay out the design.
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