Part of being a juried artist with the Mesa Art Center Co-op is the requirement to give demonstrations during the time the store is open. These are usually monthly and last 3-4 hours depending on the schedule. On this particular Saturday I was outside from 9:00am until 1:00pm. It was a little chilly by our desert standards but nice enough. What makes doing these demonstrations worthwhile is when people stop, talk, and ask questions about what you’re doing. On this day I had decided to show how to cut dovetails using hand tools. That’s the traditional way they’re done and what I use in my furniture work. If you should decide to do a Google search on dovetails you’ll find tons of information and “the best way” to cut them. There is a lot of mystique around them and they’ve become the hallmark of fine woodwork. You can check my blog for various tutorials I’ve written about my method which is tails first!
Being out there that day was enjoyable because I had several groups of younger folks (12-25) watch me and ask questions. As a retired woodshop teacher I love that part of demonstrating. Woodworking, especially traditional work as I do isn’t very common these days. Can’t tell you how many times someone will stop and say: “my grandfather used to do that” as they watch me! Anyway, the project of the day was a small box made out of some common Pine a friend of mine had given me. It was well seasoned (dry, cupped, and cracked!) because is came from his fathers garage — they ran across it when they were in the process of moving and he thought maybe I had some use for it. Well, it was good for this box which will be available at the store after Christmas. Here are some pictures of the completed box. You would assume that since Pine is a relatively soft wood it would be easy to work but it requires very sharp tools. If the chisel is slightly dull it will crush the fibers of the wood rather than cut them cleanly. The box is lined with brown pigskin and I decided to experiment with the hinge — it’s fashioned from a piece of brass rod and inserted into a pre-drilled hole. My preference is for clear finishes that are smooth as silk, come visit the store and see it in person. The measurements are 3 1/2″ tall by 5 5/8″ wide and 9 1/4″ long, the perfect size for holding your remote controls and other treasures. Here are a couple of pictures: