Category Archives: Family History blogging

Display Cabinet Build Update

by Skip

Finally, a few days freed up to get back to the display cabinet build!

I finished cutting out the panels that will fit in the bottom of the cabinet. The burgundy leather was cut to fit each panel and was attached with contact cement.

display cabinet jennyskip
attaching burgundy leather to panels

My wife has prepared three beautiful dragonfly appliqués that we will apply to the center of each leather panel in keeping with our Arts and Crafts theme.  My friends at Ace Hardware contacted K&S Metals and found the 36-inch long, ¼-inch diameter brass rods that I will use to frame each of the leather panels.

brass rods for display cabinet jennyskip
brass rods

As with most of my furniture builds, the wood is set in the air-conditioned house for several weeks before it is taken into the shop where it is cut and milled to size. Then the pieces are brought back into the house for assembly. With a very good portable dust collection system, I was even able to cut the mortises for the dominos in the house. Of course I planned this activity while my wife was busy in the sewing room. No harm—no foul!

Once the display cabinet framework was assembled and glued, I began the tedious process of sanding. We set up two work stands outside the front door so I could easily take the cabinet in and out of the house between standings. I started with 100 grit and worked up to 220.  I wiped down the wood with alcohol to get off all the dust and applied a coat of wood conditioner.  I have taken a test sample of this wood and sanded and stained with a red mahogany stain. It was a little blotchy, so I decided to test another piece with a wood conditioner and this worked a lot better. I decided not to use a grain filler. This wood is very smooth and not very porous.

For the next phase of the project, I plan to drill the holes in the side frames for the brass rods that will support the glass shelves in the cabinet. I will apply the stain to the framework, apply the appliqués to the leather panels and install the panels. 

dragonfly appliqué jennyskip
dragonfly machine embroidery appliqué

I will construct a wooden bottom shelf and top for the cabinet, glue up 9-inch wide mahogany boards, sand and prep these for staining. I will also decide how I am going to deal with the back of the cabinet. An easy solution would be to install a mirror with a plywood backing but my wife is voting for mahogany panels.  I think in this election, she gets more delegates!!

I may start cutting, sanding and finishing the glass stops for the glass side panels.  My thoughts on this are to use ebonized cherry for the stops but I don’t want too many things going on with this cabinet. I already have red mahogany, brass, leather, glass and embroidery appliqués!

Display Cabinet Build: Part One

For the past 20 years I have worked to develop skills necessary to build furniture for our home.  I strive to improve my artistic ability but being an engineer, I am more comfortable with a set of plans to follow and when I can make subtle changes to personalize the build.  The photos below illustrate some of these builds. Most of these projects were built with plans from magazines like Fine Woodworking and Popular Woodworking.  The coffee table/bench shown was one of the first projects built with only a plan visualized in my mind.

Arts and Crafts coffee table/bench jennyskip
Arts and Crafts coffee table/bench (I also built the Stickley-style settee behind it)

Since then, I have constructed a dining room table with two natural edge slabs of walnut, again, with a plan visualized in my mind.  Now let me say though, that I did get help from books on furniture construction, for typical dimensions for dining tables.

natural-edge dining table jennyskip
Natural-edge dining table. I also built the benches at either end of the table.

This leads me to this current build, a display case. We are running out of space for new furniture but my wife managed to find a space for a new display cabinet.  Most of my projects take close to a year to complete, due to my schedule.  I also generally shift the construction to my living/dining room. Matter of fact, I assembled most of the new dining room table on the old dining room table which is now in the breakfast area.

I usually bring the wood for the project into the air-conditioned space prior to and during construction so that it can reach equilibrium with its future home. 

furniture wood jennyskip
wood acclimating to the air-conditioned living room

On the downside, it may take a major wall deconstruction to move some of this furniture out of the house. On the upside, I have a loving wife that supports my living room shop practices! EXCEPT when my assembly practices on the dining room table interfere with her quilt layout needs.

On to part one of the build: I made several freehand sketches on paper to explore some of my ideas.  I relied on some texts on furniture design to zero in on the dimensions, but decided to let the design flow as I constructed the cabinet.

display cabinet sketches jennyskip
display cabinet sketches

Now I am going to play the old age card.  I don’t have the time I’ll need to hand cut my mortise and tenons. So for this project, I decided to use loose tenon construction with dominoes.  There, I’ve said it. And if it would have worked with my mental plans, I would have used pocket hole construction.

The overall dimensions of the display cabinet are 16 inches x 32 inches x 75 inches.  I chose mahogany for the primary wood.  Baltic plywood and poplar will be used as secondary woods.  The shelves will be glass, supported on brass bars. The bottom case of the display cabinet will be enclosed with plywood panels covered in burgundy- colored leather.  The leather-covered panels will be framed with brass bar stock. The back of the bottom case will be left open.  Some Arts and Crafts accents will be added. More on this later.  As I said, the design will be pretty fluid so this initial concept may change as the process moves forward.

The initial plan was to etch the leather panels with a laser engraving of an Arts and Crafts motif. 

laser engraved leather jennyskip
burgundy laser engraved leather test sample
laser engraved leather jennyskip
close up of laser engraved leather

As you can see in the photograph of the test sample, the engraving was too dark and would not be visible in the entry hall where the cabinet would be located.   So no laser engraving. As I said, the design is fluid!

To this point, the legs have been rough cut to 1 ½ inches  x  1 ½ inches x 75 inches.

All the rails have been rough cut along with their associated mortises.  After a dry-fit to test the joints, all the parts will be sanded to 180 grit.

display cabinet legs jennyskip
legs and rails  for display cabinet

In the next part of the project, I’ll show the preparation of the leather panels and the legs.  I’ll also illustrate the preparation of the mounts for the shelving, and the glue-up for the cabinet top and lower shelf.

I have ordered some bar stock from my local Ace Hardware. This is a locally-run hardware store, and the people who work there are fantastic!  So instead of running to the Internet for everything or going to the big box stores, I try to support this locally-run store.  Besides, they have a great store cat, a red tortoiseshell tom cat who welcomes everybody at the door. It reminds me of the hardware store in the small town where I grew up, which had a store cat, and a Mr. Hubbard who would take out his glass eye and let my brother and me play with it!

Quilting for the Tropics

by jenny

My grandmother used to say “We lived in ‘the tropics’…” which included Guam  and Hawaii, during the time period leading up to World War II. When they retired, they moved to Florida, which she considered to also have a tropical climate.  And she wasn’t always happy about the heat and humidity in Florida. Being a practical quilter, she wanted to make quilts that would be useful to the prospective owners. One of my favorite quilts she made for us had a pieced top made of scraps leftover from when she made us flannel pajamas, and the backing was cotton sheeting. There was no batting in between. It was just the right weight, and kept us toasty warm but not suffocated like a heavy blanket would. The cotton backing was cool and almost slippery.

I kept those attributes in mind when I set out to make some quilts for our favorite non-profit organization, Plenitud PR.  They do workshops in sustainable living practices, organic gardening, rainwater management, and much more. Although the temperature is always around 70 to 85 degrees F, some of the workshop participants would appreciate sleeping with a light blanket.

I used cotton flannel remnants for the quilt tops. Remnants are usually what is left over on the bolt of fabric after most of the yardage has been sold. They are typically less than a yard in length, and packaged as remnants and sold at less than the usual price. At JoAnn Fabric, they are normally 1/2 the regular price, and sometimes go on sale for even less. Some cheaply made cotton flannel is wound onto the bolt so that the fabric grain is skewed. I always wash lengths of cotton flannel before cutting, then make sure the cut edges are straight, by cutting a little notch near the cut edge and ripping the fabric along the straight grain until I reach the end of the cut edge. Sometimes I have to cut and rip more than once to be able to rip straight to the other edge.

For these blankets, I embroidered plenitud.pr on the lower front. Now that I have looked up the web site, I see that it is Plenitud PR (without the ., but technically it is now PlenitudPR.org. Placement of the dot can be crucially important in our high-tech world). But since it is just a blanket now, and currently has no power to connect to the Internet (now, but how about in the future?) I will leave as is.

machine embroidery hoop jennyskip
hooping the fabric for machine embroidery

The backing is extra-wide cotton, made for the special purpose of backing quilts, so that it doesn’t have to be pieced. I spotted these bolts of extra-wide material at JoAnn’s, and was able to find several that only had a small amount left on the bolt. Another $core: I was given the “end of bolt” discount price for the yardage. The backings were cut just a few inches larger than the quilt tops, so that the larger edges could be folded over and stitched down for binding the edges. I used several of the machine’s designated quilting stitches for channel-quilting the tops to the backings, and for top-stitching the bound edges. Some of the stitches I wasn’t so happy with. For all the stitching, I used the walking foot, AKA Interchangeable dual-feed foot with the zig-zag attachment. I used the automatic stitching setting so I wouldn’t be cramming my foot on the pedal for a long time, but the tension and stitching looks very uneven on some of them. It’s not the prettiest stitching I’ve ever seen but ripping it out at this point seems unsustainable….

For historical information about quilting in the tropics from older generations, Hart Cottage Quilts site is fascinating to read.

Time for Wood to Meet Wheels

Recently I was asked to help with our church Cub Scout pack’s annual Pinewood Derby.  I also volunteered a woodworking friend of mine, Ray,  and on a Tuesday night we had 8 Cubs and Dads come to my shop to cut out their cars. The Cubs aren’t allowed to use power tools so Ray, the Dads and I did the cutting with a small nine- inch bandsaw and then used a belt sander. The Cubs had drawn out their designs on the wood blocks so we just followed their outlines. The Cubs took the car bodies home to do more sanding, painting and decorating.

I had been involved in Pinewood Derby before so I knew that each Cub needed to take home a trophy, having been judged on racing and craftsmanship. In the past, I had seen, somewhere, an idea to make trophies out of 2×4 and 1×6 lumber. The base would be made from a four-inch length of 1×6 pine. The rest of the trophy was cut from a four-inch length of construction 2×4, with one end cut at a slight angle.

trophy pieces jennyskip
trophy components
PInewood Derby trophy jennyskip
trophy prototype
Pinewood Derby trophy side view jennyskip
trophy prototype, side view

The bases were sanded, primed and painted blue. The 2×4 was sanded, primed and painted yellow. When the paint was dry, the base was predrilled to accept wood screws which were used to fasten it to the 2×4.

The Pack Master fashioned labels with the pack number to stick to the bases. The angled cut on the end of the 2×4 allowed the Cub Scout to display his car on the trophy. 

Pinewood Derby display trophy Jennyskip
trophy with Pinewood Derby car

Then the race was on!! Cheering was somewhat subdued because the Cubs found a dish of brownies and their mouths were full.

What do the CNC, Laser and a Light Switch Plate Have in Common?

You can make a light switch plate with a CNC machine, and then engrave a decoration on the plate with a laser.  I was inspired by Kenbo Studio’s YouTube channel A Cut Above,  when he used a scroll saw to cut out a switch plate in the shape of  Star Wars droid R2D2.  My grandchildren love Star Wars, so I searched the internet for Star Wars images and landed on a cartoon image of R2D2, a good test image for my project.

Before I post the details of the project, let me digress into the history of the light switch, which is so cleverly hidden by this switch plate. Wikipedia gives a brief history:

“The first light switch employing “quick-break technology” was invented by John Henry Holmes in 1884 in the Shieldfield district of Newcastle upon Tyne.  The “quick-break” switch overcame the problem of a switch’s contacts developing electric arcing whenever the circuit was opened or closed. Arcing would cause pitting on one contact and the build-up of residue on the other, and the switch’s useful life would be diminished. Holmes’ invention ensured that the contacts would separate or come together very quickly, however much or little pressure was exerted by the user on the switch actuator. The action of this “quick break” mechanism meant that there was insufficient time for an arc to form, and the switch would thus have a long working life. This “quick break” technology is still in use in almost every ordinary light switch in the world today, numbering in the billions, as well as in many other forms of electric switch.

The toggle light switch was invented in 1917 by William J. Newton.

“As a component of a building wiring system, the installation of light switches will be regulated by some authority concerned with safety and standards. In different countries the standard dimensions of the wall mounting hardware (boxes, plates etc.) may differ. Since the face-plates used must cover this hardware, these standards determine the minimum sizes of all wall mounted equipment. Hence, the shape and size of the boxes and face-plates, as well as what is integrated, varies from country to country.

The dimensions, mechanical designs, and even the general appearance of light switches changes but slowly with time. They frequently remain in service for many decades, often being changed only when a portion of a house is rewired. It is not extremely unusual to see century-old light switches still in functional use. Manufacturers introduce various new forms and styles, but for the most part decoration and fashion concerns are limited to the face-plates or wall-plates. Even the “modern” dimmer switch with knob is at least four decades old, and in even the newest construction the familiar toggle and rocker switch appearances predominate.”

This brought to mind a two-button light switch that I saw at my grandmother’s house when I was a child.  At the time, I didn’t realize the historical significance of this type of switch!  Today,  a light switch takes on many shapes and types. We can control our lights remotely with our smart phones. I have a lamp in my house that has a built-in speaker to play audio files, that can be controlled with my smart phone.  We have light switches with built-in occupancy sensors to control the lights. I have even worked with light switches that provided a binary input to a microprocessor to control the air conditioning system at a laboratory.   But enough digressing… back to the project.

Using Vectric software and the dimensions of a single switch cover plate,  tap files were generated for the plate outline and the switch plate hole. The Shark CNC machine was fired up and a wall plate cut from1/4 inch thick Baltic plywood. After separating the wall plate from the tabs holding it in place, I set the plate under a store- bought switch plate, which was used as a template to drill the screw holes.  I could have used the CNC machine to do this, but it would have meant a bit change.  If I was making a number of these at one time, it may have been worth the extra step to change the bit. The wall plate was then given a quick sand, and then painted with a high gloss white primer, followed up with a clear coat of lacquer. 

Next, I moved the plate over to the Full Spectrum 40-watt laser to engrave a cartoon image of R2D2.  I’m still working out the details on how to line up the laser image on a project, so it took a couple of test runs to finally get the image centered on the wall plate. With the white paint and clear coat on the plate, it only took one pass with the laser to get a satisfactory image. I did reduce the speed to 80% and left the power setting at 100%.

I’m going to continue to experiment with this project using different types of wood.  I may also try to not only engrave the piece with the laser, but also to cut out the shape using the laser. I also want to try to improve on the use of the CNC, to provide a profile on the border of the switch plate. I think for the time being the grandkids will be happy with an image of their favorite cartoon figure. I might make some switch plates with a feel-good motif for the parents, too… maybe a plate engraved with the words  “When In Doubt, Turn It Out!”

light switch plate craftsbyjennyskip.com
light switch plate

TURNING a NOSTEPINNE on the LATHE

nostepinne craftsbyjennyskip.com
nostepinne, winding a center-pull ball of yarn: Quince & Co Kestrel 100% organic linen

Is it the wand of Dumbledore, or the wand of Mickey Mouse the sorcerer, or maybe the switch your Aunt Gertrude chased you around the house with? No, no, no it’s a nostepinne!

The first I ever heard of the nostepinne was a few years ago when my wife asked me if I could make a yarn swift and a nostepinne.  Oh yeah, I can do that…. Sure… they are made out of wood, right?  After some research I found out what these devices accomplish for knitters. In the case of the swift, it is a device to hold a skein of yarn while it is wound into a ball.  The nostepinne is used to wrap the yarn into a ball that will feed yarn from its center (a center-pull ball).

Wikipedia says that:

   “The nostepinne, also known as a nostepinde or nøstepinde, is a tool used in the fiber arts to wind yarn, often yarn that has been hand spun, into a ball for easily knitting, crocheting, or weaving from. In its simplest form, it is a dowel, generally between 10 and 12 inches long and most frequently made of wood, around which yarn can be wound. Decoratively and ornately carved nostepinnes are common. The top of the nostepinne sometimes incorporates a notch or a groove, which allows one end of the yarn to be held secure while the rest is wound into a ball”

If you go to Spinartiste , you will find some images of very ornate nostepinnes.  This site states “The word “Nostepinne” has originated from Scandinavia and in Norway, it is actually called ”Nøstepinne” where the “ø” is pronounced like the “u” in the word “hurt”. In Sweden, it is often called ”Nystepinne.”

The traditions associated with nostepinnes in Norway were many… they were given as Christmas gifts, engagement gifts, or a gift from a boy to a girl to show her he was interested in her.  The more accomplished wood carvers would hollow out the handles of the nostepinne with captive balls inside.  These could also be used as baby rattles.

I have made my wife a couple of nostepinnes and even a swift. This time I decided to be a little more adventurous and add some carvings and maybe even some laser engraving to keep up with our theme of bringing 21st century techniques to 19th century crafts.

The design I lasered onto the handle of the nostepinne is derived from Norse Symbols And Their Meanings

(Source symboldictionary.net):

A modern representation of the Web of Wyrd, the matrix of fate (wyrd) as woven by the Nornir, the fates of Norse legend. The emblem, nine staves arranged in an angular grid, contains all of the shapes of the runes and therefore all of the past, present, and future possibilites they represent. The web of wyrd serves as a reminder that the actions of the past affect the present and that present actions affect the future; all timelines are inextricably interconnected- in a sense, it is a representation of the tree of life.

Homemade Holiday

Just a little quickie post to recognize some Christmas gifts that were given to us, that were crafty and/or homemade.

We don’t want to seem unappreciative of the not-homemade gifts that were given to us, but we are especially excited that some of our family members made things to give us, or gave us things that were crafts made by someone. Crafting is rather a new thing for us. We’ve always liked crafting in our spare time, but now we have more spare time. We can try to do crafts we never had time to do before.

candy cane ornament
Candy cane ornament on the tree from granddaughter “A”

This candy cane ornament was a hand-made gift from our granddaughter. It looks like plaster of Paris (?) or a ceramic or clay shape, painted, with a hole drilled in the top and a silver ribbon added for hanging from the tree. Lovely handiwork!

crafty watch
This is a watch from grandson “C” that he bought at his school’s Christmas craft fair

I was blown away that grandson “C” chose this crafty watch for Me! at his school’s Christmas craft fair. It’s got a red (his favorite color) leather band with beads and a burnished metal butterfly charm that matches the watch, with a snap closure. Love it!

Christmas Cornhole craftsbyjennyskip
grandsons playing a game of Christmas cornhole on the lawn

Kids and grandkids played cornhole at our family Christmas party, using the set we made in a previous blog post:

http://craftsbyjennyskip.com/thanksgiving-food-fun-and-games/

see also: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7qJZQr3H7Xg

(And please subscribe to our blog and You-tube channel! Thank you!)

crocheted doily
crocheted doily from daughter-in-law Olga

We were in awe at the crochet skills that went into this gift from our daughter-in-law! The intricate, perfect, and beautiful stitches make this an heirloom piece. I’ve always been fascinated by the serene symmetry of vintage crocheted doilies. The intense blue color of this one (in real life, it looks a lot more blue than in this pic) makes it modern as well as classic.

Christmas breakfast
Food gifts for Christmas

Here we are “creating” with one of our Christmas food gifts, apple cinnamon pancake mix. This couple sent us a breakfast food package and a treat basket from the oldest Candy Shoppe in America, Ye Olde Pepper Company.

craftsbyjennyskip.com
Grandpa (AKA Santa) with some grandkids and their snowmen

Santa and some of the recipients of our Snow People project (see the post at: http://craftsbyjennyskip.com/snow-people-revisited/

Other crafty gifts we’ve gotten include artful photos, homemade sugared pecans, musical recordings, and gift cards at creative venues. It certainly is gratifying to see our posterity using their talents to create beautiful and useful things. And with this latest gift, we are reminded that…

happily ever after
Hope everyone had a happy Christmas!

Snow-People Revisited

In the previous blog, Snowman 2, we covered the design and production of a prototype snowman ornament for our 18 grandchildren. The next phase of this project involved the mass production of the 18 snow-people (politically correct for snow women and snowmen). Looking at the calendar, I realized that there was no way I was going to be able to reproduce the prototype snowman without some 21st century help. I had purchased a Vega lathe duplicator for my large lathe and my midi-lathe some years ago. So I pulled out the smaller duplicator and attached it to my Jet midi-lathe, worked up a template for the snowman profile and got to work.
Taking several 4 foot long pieces of southern magnolia of the proper dimensions (about 2 ½ inches by 2 ½ inches ), I cut 18 blanks, each 6 inches long. Then, sitting in front of the TV watching some old episodes of MASH, I marked the centers on each end of the blocks. A 5 gallon bucket worked well for transporting all the blanks around while I was processing them. Then off to the lathe. I have my midi-lathe on a roller stand, so I rolled it outside to take advantage of the wonderful Florida weather and natural daylight! Each blank was then turned into a 2 inch diameter cylinder using a roughing gouge. This went a lot faster than starting with the square block and using the duplicator to round off to a cylinder.
Once I had 18 cylinders turned, I then remounted each blank and with the duplicator, cut the profile of the snowperson. I then sanded from 80 to 400 grit using Abernet. There was a small base remaining on each of the turned profiles that I decided to leave. It actually looked okay when the snowpersons were finally painted. I sprayed each of the turned profiles with a white high gloss, lacquer sealer and then turned them over to my wife to add the final touches. She had gotten some snow acrylic paint that gave the snow-people a snow-textured look. My wife went with pink accents for the snow-women.
The next step was to add our name medallions with date to the bottom with the name of the grandchild. Then off to the mailbox.

Four of 10 Quilts for Christmas

Wow, that’s a tall order. I’m starting to realize that someone may have to wait til next Christmas to get their quilt.

I decided a few months back to get some precut fabric packages from Craftsy, in the form of Charm Packs. A Charm Pack is a package of 5″ fabric squares in coordinating colors. There was a sale of Christmas fabrics going on near the end of the summer, and I got Moda and Robert Kaufman packs in the Evergreen, Under the Mistletoe, Holiday Flourish, 3 Sisters Favorites, and French General Favorites collections. I also had a few packs I’d snagged at Cary Quilt shop a couple of years ago. Sorry I can’t remember the collection name just now, but here is a picture of the top I’ve been working on from that set.

Christmas quilt craftsbyjennyskip
Christmas Quilt #3

I’ve found that the average Charm Pack has about 42 squares, which is not exactly enough to make a very big quilt. The quilts I want to make are mostly intended to be lap quilts, something you’d pull over you as you were lying on the couch watching TV or reading. And the ones I’ve made seem to end up a little smaller than most instructions I’ve seen for making lap quilts. If I use nine 5-inch squares for a block, and then sew together nine of those blocks, and then add a border strip around the outer edge, that’s about the size I want to make.

I used a pattern that I’d made once before, Eleanor Burns’ Tossed Nine Patch. I took a class on this pattern at a traveling Quilt Expo, and each of the students practically made an entire quilt top in the class, as Burns’ catch-phrase and company name says: Quilt in a Day. It really was a magnificent experience, an investment, because I knew I would try to reuse this pattern again and again.

Here it is again, using a charm pack of red and white squares.

quilt craftsbyjennyskip
Tossed Nine-patch top in red and white

And again, this one has charm squares of traditional Christmas colors, embellished with gold accents.

quilt top craftsbyjennyskip.com
Tossed Nine-patch lap quilt top

This is the one I’m about to square up and bind. Like the first one, it is made of reds and blues, along with the traditional pairings of red and green. But I’m loving the addition of light blue and turquoise as Christmas colors.

lap quilt craftsbyjennyskip.com
Tossed Nine-patch almost ready for binding

To do the free-motion machine quilting, I had two options on my machine: spring-action or not spring-action. I had used the non-spring-action before when I finished up the quilt I made in the aforementioned class. I was pretty happy with it, but actually I have a slightly different machine than I had back then. I chose the other option, the spring-action one. Both options had specific presser feet to use. The non-spring-action free motion foot was just a small, clear, snap-on foot that looked like a regular embroidery foot except it had an open front. The spring-action foot was a complex item. I had to unscrew and remove the shank that was on the post, and screw on the spring-action foot to the post from the left side. At the top of the right side of the post is another screw that keeps the needle tightened up and ready to sew the fabric. The spring-action foot had a metal bar, kind of like a stretched-out heavy paper clip, that rested on top of the bolt that keeps the needle tightened up. Within the shank of the foot was a spring. So while you are free-motion quilting, the fabric gets moved about by your hands rather than by the feed dogs, because on this setting, the feed dogs are down. And this foot rolls with the punches, skimming over the fabric. After a quilt and a half, the little metal bar suddenly broke off, and I had to do something else.

broken sewing machine foot
broken spring-action presser foot

Of course, the sewing shop didn’t have another one in stock. And they had never seen a foot part break like that. It wasn’t a clean break, if you look at the break closely, it looks like the metal fibers just pulled apart, if such a thing could happen. Anyway, I tried to finish using the other option, but my results really sucked doing it that way. Thread breaking, needle breaking, birds’ nests, ugh. Some days, sewing can be a real disaster.

The one that I finished, I bound using store-bought quilt binding tape that had been in the clearance bin. Since it is now December 8, I’m open to using short-cuts like that. Our foremothers in the 19th century couldn’t get store-bought short-cuts like that, and they did all the sewing by hand. I’ll close with possible reasons for not finishing a quilt project by a self-imposed deadline, then vs now:

Why didn’t you get your Christmas quilt finished (in 1850)?

1) Frostbite
2) We had to use the dining-room table for skinning a deer
3) Wanted to conserve the candle supply, so we slept instead of working by candlelight

Why didn’t you get your 10 Christmas quilts finished (in 2015)?

1) Ran out of backing fabric and wanted to wait until I got a new Joann’s coupon before I bought more
2) Sewing machine malfunction on orders from one to five, one being a broken part, five being a broken motor (in which there is no workaround)
3) Husband had to use the dining-room table to assemble a frame for a new display cabinet he’s making

These are just possible examples. I may actually finish this project…

Tooth Fairy Lidded Box

 

Several years have passed since I took on the parental role of the Tooth Fairy, but now, with 18 grandchildren, my thoughts have turned back to this custom as I watch my children turn into Tooth Fairy proxies. I must say, I was a very clever Tooth Fairy protégé.  I won’t share the details of the deception I practiced on this blog site in case some of my more tech-savvy grandchildren read this blog. I have sent my underhanded Tooth Fairy techniques to some of my children via secured server (the one in my laundry closet).

The history of children being paid for their lost teeth goes back to early written records of the Norsemen and Northern Europeans. In Northern Europe this tradition was called ftand-fé or tooth fee.

Wikipedia  on dealing with the use of baby teeth:

“During the Middle Ages, other superstitions arose surrounding children’s teeth. In England, for example, children were instructed to burn their baby teeth in order to save the child from hardship in the afterlife. Children who didn’t consign their baby teeth to the fire would spend eternity searching for them in the afterlife. The Vikings, it is said, paid children for their teeth. In the Norse culture, children’s teeth and other articles belonging to children, were said to bring good luck in battle, and Scandinavian warriors hung children’s teeth on a string around their necks. Fear of witches was another reason to bury or burn teeth. In medieval Europe, it was thought that if a witch were to get hold of one of your teeth, it could lead to them having total power over you.

The modern incarnation of these traditions into an actual tooth fairy has been dated to 1927, 1962, or even 1977 However, there is an earlier reference to the tooth fairy in a 1908 “Household Hints” item in the Chicago Daily Tribune:

“Tooth Fairy.

Many a refractory child will allow a loose tooth to be removed if he knows about the tooth fairy. If he takes his little tooth and puts it under the pillow when he goes to bed the tooth fairy will come in the night and take it away, and in its place will leave some little gift. It is a nice plan for mothers to visit the 5 cent counter and lay in a supply of articles to be used on such occasions. Lillian Brown.”

There doesn’t seem to be any consensus on what the Tooth Fairy looks like.  Images range from dragons to little fat men, to little winged girls.  The general view is that the Tooth Fairy is more like the little winged girl.  This was the image that came to my mind when, as a child, I put my tooth under the pillow. Practically, this could have worked since the average tooth payout was a dime and I could see how a little winged girl might be able to sneak under my pillow, take my baby tooth and leave a dime. But with the 2013 survey by Visa Inc. reporting the average US payout as $3.70 for a baby tooth, I’m not sure a little Tooth Fairy could carry around this much cash. It may still be a bargain for the Tooth Fairy since  adults probably paid the dentist several hundred dollars for the care of this tooth that ultimately fell out!

A few  months ago I turned a small lidded box for one of my grandchildren to use as a tooth fairy box. I used pyrography to place her name on the lid of the box and some decorative piercing around the side. It was an ugly prototype but my son loved it and took it home to his daughter. The moral of this story is to never bad mouth one of your creations, no matter how ugly it may be, because in the eye of the beholder (my son), the pig’s ear evidently had a silk lining.

So, on to prototype two.  I took a piece of southern magnolia, my favorite prototype wood, and turned a 4-inch long, 2 ¼-inch diameter cylinder between centers and then cut a ¼-inch long  tenon on one end.  I mounted the blank in a scroll chuck and used a 1 ½-inch Forstner bit to drill out the bottom to a 1 ¼-inch depth to accommodate an electric tea light with a fake flame. Originally I was only going to drill to one inch because I had some of the tea lights that light up on the inside and are flat with a little fake wick. The flame would cast more light above the tea light, which would better suit the purpose of my design.

I then sanded the bottom inside and outside of the box.  I turned the box around on the lathe, setting the bottom of the box in the scroll chuck. I didn’t worry about chuck marks on the box because I had plans for dealing with that later. I then used a parting tool to form a 1 3/4-inch diameter tenon about a ¼-inch down from the end of the blank.  This tenon would provide the socket fit for the lid. I then sanded and applied several coats of sanding sealer and parted off the lid.

Using a 1 5/8-inch Forstner bit, I drilled down to about ¼-inch above the hole drilled into the bottom of the box for the tea light.  The  ledge this formed would be used later to support a clear plastic disk. Then, using the tenon on the lid as a guide, I opened up the sides of the 1 5/8-inch hole for the lid tenon to fit. I used a parting tool to cut three decorative grooves  in the side of the box just below the lid opening. Later I would drill holes around the box in the grooves to let the light through.  I sanded and finished the top portion of the box.

Wrapping the top section of the box in paper towel to protect it from the scroll jaws, I turned the box around and secured it in the chuck. I didn’t worry too much about the scroll making marks on the sides of the box since the jaws sat in the grooves I had cut.  I then turned grooves in the bottom section of the box where there were scroll marks, did some light sanding and applied another coat of sanding sealer to blend in with the top portion of the box.

I was going to laser engrave a cartoon figure of a tooth holding a toothbrush, with the child’s name on a contrasting piece of wood, and glue this to the top.  This is why I only made the top ¼-inch thick on the prototype.  However it was easier to just laser engrave directly on the lid, so in the final versions of this box, I made the lid ½-inch thick to begin with. Since I had originally thought of gluing on the engraved cap to the lid, I had used a pointed live center which left a divot on the top of the lid. This would have been covered up by the engraved cap. On the final versions, I used a cup center.

The laser engraving worked well on the sanding sealer surface. I didn’t fuss about centering the image on the prototype so it came out a little off center with the divot in one of the eyes!

tooth fairy box craftsbyjennyskip
prototype 2

I cut a plastic disk out of the side of a clear plastic container that rice came in. After drilling all the holes in the grooves, I placed the plastic disk on a bed of thick super glue applied to the ledge in the box. This let the light through to the upper part of the box where the holes had been drilled and acted as a bottom for the upper compartment holding the tooth and cash!!  I must mention here that when the Tooth Fairy visited my house when I was a child, I received a dime for each tooth. This dime wouldn’t have much effect on the amount of light getting into the upper compartment of the tooth box. In testing the final version of the box, a paper bill was folded and inserted into the box and the tea light was turned on. The light seemed to still shine through the holes. If the Tooth Fairy decides in the future to use debit or gift cards, I’ll have to revisit the design!

If you were to use the other flameless type tea light, you could drill holes around the bottom set of grooves in the box to let the light through.

The most recent version of the fairy tooth box is shown below.  I’m not satisfied with the proportions of this box. The height-to-diameter ratio is about 1.77 which should be pleasing to the eye,  but to me, the box seems to be too tall.  Maybe if the box was tapered with a larger diameter base it might be more esthetic. The location and the spacing of the grooves needs to be investigated also. I plan to work on the design and will provide a post in the future to describe these efforts.

lidded box, orange and blue
most recent prototype

 

A special thanks to my friend Adam and one of his relatives for the wood.

Daryl Aukeman, Hudsonville, MI

616-322-2232 cell

616-896-0157 home

Daryl has an unbelievable supply of wood which he will be selling to us wood-starved Florida woodworkers.