Monday, December 28, 2009

The Beginning

I know that I can make a nice wall cabinet, the challenge with this project was the inlay that I had thought of for the door. That being said, I decided to start with what for me is usually the end, the door. This is going to be a stand alone wall cabinet to replace a smaller one in my bedroom, it's made from Cherry and I wanted to incorporate a bolection inlay of a Japanese Cherry tree on the door. I've never done a bolection inlay before and wasn't sure if I could pull it off well enough so I wanted to complete the inlay first to leave me multiple options with the design if I couldn't pull it off.
I started by selecting an interesting grain pattern and cutting it to size of the planned door. I wanted the underlying grain to mimic the mountains that you would see in the background of a Japanese print.

With the grain pattern set I sketched out a Cherry tree on large graph paper, at this point I had in my mind how I was going to do the wood of the tree but I still wasn't sure about the blossoms. I cut the sketch of the trunk into smaller components and using spray adhesive I attached them to pieces of 3/16 inch thick walnut aligning the grain in pleasing ways. After cutting out all the pieces on the scroll saw I used double sided tape to hole the walnut to the door and outlined them with a sharp Exacto knife. Working with one component at time I then routed a 1/16th inch deep relief into the door. After fitting the piece I then would move on to the next piece, completing the tree in a few days between finishing up Christmas projects. I still had in my mind that I would cut the blossoms and without routing glue them to the door and shape them with my Foredom power carver. I tried this method as a test and was very disappointed. The small blossoms were very hard to cut on the scroll saw and attempting to shape them scarred up the base wood. I gave up on this approach.
As often happens I had an epiphany in the shower, I'd go abstract and simple. After I dried off and dressed I went out into the shop and using a 3/8th inch plug cutter I cut a scrap of curly maple into plugs. I drilled some 3/8th inch holes into some scrap cherry and drove the plugs in. I trimmed the plugs with a chisel and shaped them with a sanding block. I noticed that there was a slight space around the plugs and that all of one size would look odd, so I undersized the drill bit by 1/64th of an inch and tried that. The plugs fit very tight and after trimming and shaping there was no space around the plug. I then moved to the drill press and cut 3/8th and 1/4 inch plugs from a block of curly maple. I started placing holes where they looked good and plugging them, I kept adding them here and there until I was happy. After trimming them and sanding the plugs and the trunk I decided that the project was a success and the wall cabinet could proceed with this design. More to come as the cabinet takes shape.

"The beginning is the most important part of the work." - Plato