Bigleaf Maple, really the only Maple we have over
on this side of the country that is of interest to Woodworkers, used to be
plentiful in and around the Seattle area. The figured heartwood, which can
be striking and is much prized by luthiers, is usually only found in the
base of the tree. In fact, there have been incidents with thieves
illegally felling the trees and then removing the base near the stump. I
bought some pieces from my wood guy in Spokane and because they were only
available is one size: roughly 5/4 by 21" long and 12" in width, I
thought making a large kindling box for one of our many wood stoves would be a nice
use. It would also afford ample opportunity to practice hand
dovetailing some large pieces together, other that just doing drawers.
After milling the pieces to about 1/2" in thickness, and cutting them to
height and width, the dovetail process begain with cutting the tailboards on
the bandsaw. With this many pieces and this many dovetails, it was
critical to keep track of the orientation of each piece.
The bottom will be a piece of hard maple with a 1/4" rabbit around the
edges that will slide freely into a dado cut into each side.
After a lot of sawing and chisel work, the sides are ready to glue up
and pound together. I was pleasantly supprised at how cleanly this
wood worked, in spite of being rather soft for a maple. The joints,
although very tight, still went together nicely.
The finished hammered together box, before sanding and oiling. The
grain is stunning, even before finishing -- I can see why the Luthiers like
this wood so much.