It started with this little 3" turning my brother-in-law, Tony, did of the HatchSpace logo. I'd been thinking for some time about doing a bench using our dovetailed egg as the leg on one or both ends.
Tony is a breast cancer surgeon with no surgeries scheduled during the lockdown and a lathe in his basement. I asked if he'd be interested in turning a big egg if I glued up a blank. Sure.
The problem was that doing a 15" tall dovetailed egg in contrasting woods required big pieces of wood inclined toward checking and we were both eager to get on with it.
First, I made a full scale sketch of the egg from our Jonathan Wolfman designed logo
To go easy on his tools we decided to keep things soft. I thought red cedar and Port Orford cedar would have a nice contrast and be easy to work with. In order to hide the geometrically impossible 4-way dovetail in the design, I ripped the material into 1-inch pieces that could be glued up in sections.
The PO Cedar we had was from these big chunks of beam ends Bensonwood Homes gave to us. They were 8"x20" with checking and stresses and only about half of what I cut was anywhere near straight enough to use.
What was usable was also wet. The inside of big lumber commonly has far more moisture content than the outer surfaces. The moisture content of the Red Cedar was at a good 8%, but the PO Cedar ranged from 8 - 16%.
I don't have a kiln, or the patience, but I do have a sauna. I bundled up the 100 pieces, spaced and strapped them, and put them in at around 160 degrees for 3 days. I kept out and weighed a few 12" pieces of each species for a control measurement.
The whole house smelled like a shake factory for a few days after, but when I took them out and reweighed the dried parts, everything came out at a fairly uniform 6%, which is perfect. And perfect is good enough.
While I had a nice pile of dry parts, a good many of the PO cedar pieces had some creative ideas of their own to express. It was nothing a few dozen clamps and cauls and cursing couldn't fix and I went about the 3 day process of gluing and dry times.
Note: No matter how many clamps you own, you will need two more.
While gluing the rank and file parts I picked out the straightest and prettiest pieces to make the faux dovetails. Using the cut-outs from one species to fill the other gave me four uniform faces two-inches deep - plenty of thickness to withstand the compound curve of the egg.
The final glue-up was done in sections as there were too many glue surfaces to manage and the final product needed to line up perfectly. I used a few buried domino joiners to keep the pieces aligned during clamping. All the dominoes are on the ends and outside of the finished shape. The egg itself is solid wood, glue and two commemorative state quarters - Vermont, and New York (where Tony lives). I bury a Vermont quarter somewhere in almost everything I make. It's my revenge on the person who someday decides to saw these things up for firewood.
I ended up with about a twenty pound log of cedar that needs to be turned down to ten. This should keep Tony busy until he has to go back to saving lives again.
I was able to pare down the sides with the table saw to a round-ish shape and will take some of the bulk off the two ends with the bandsaw. The good doctor shouldn't be made to carry too many unnecessary bags of wood shavings up from his basement. We're going down next week to pick up a puppy and will leave this in the doctor's care.
Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion to How Tom and Tony Wasted a Perfectly Good Pandemic and Some Cedar
Thanks for the step-by-step project description. Can't wait to see how it turns out!
Tom, this is great, thank you for sharing! I'm looking forward to seeing the finished product.
I'm curious as to what kind of glue you used for this project, and if there was any particular reason you did so.
By the way, I love the idea of embedding the coin!
I am looking forward to getting my hands on that composite cedar log of yours. Once I get started, the whole house will smell like a hamster cage. The good news, no moths for a while.