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Monday, September 13, 2010

Handmade Jewelry Box - Black Cherry Burl

Most handmade jewelry boxes I've seen have been rectangular, and, while often very beautiful, they're made from "flat wood" (ie, boards). So, being a woodturner (a "round wood" guy), I of course have to be true to my craft and make boxes on the lathe.

The latest piece is this jewelry box of Black Cherry Burl, featuring a shallow lift-out tray for smaller items.
Black Cherry Burl Jewelry Box, w/ Lift-out Tray

 A steamy, sweltering day this summer found me in the Berkshire hills of Western Massachusetts, loading a purchase of gorgeous Cherry burls into my truck. The battleship-gray clouds that had quickly rolled in over the hills without my noticing them suddenly burst open, and I was drenched in a flash. But I was already pretty well soaked from perspiration anyway; doing any kind of work in the woods on ultra-humid days like that guarantees you won't be dry, so a little thunderstorm didn't make all that much difference. I was just thrilled to be hauling away a precious cargo of gems in the rough.
The lift-out tray in place

The landowner, who lives in an idyllic forest setting, had taken down some Black Cherries nine years ago to make room for a small cabin home he built, tucked away in a huge forest of Oaks, Hemlocks, White Pines and plenty of those Cherries. He wisely left most of the trees standing, taking only enough to make room for the cabin and a bit of open area to let the sun in.

But the most interesting thing to me about this retreat in the woods was the incredible number of burls that these Cherries produced. Virtually every one of them still standing in this grove (and there were dozens) had at least one burl on it, and many had several. It was the greatest density of Cherry (or any other) burls I've ever seen. I stopped counting at 36 burls on the trees within approximately a half-acre of woods. That doesn't include those he had cut down.
Lid and  tray removed.

It was from one of these fragrant Cherry burls that this box was turned. The lid, tray, and box were one piece of burl wood, so all three pieces share the same color and figure.

 Woodturners often pride themselves on making a box whose lid fits snugly, and makes a little "snap" when closed, and a "pop" when opened. That's nice craftsmanship, but many folks find it a bit annoying that they have to use two hands to open the box. So, my choice is to make the lid just loose enough to allow you to remove it with just a gentle grasp of the finial. It's a detail that eliminates one of life's little annoyances.

As for the appearance of the wood... it's Black Cherry Burl, which is synonomous with "richly colored, highly figured, prized North American hardwood".

This and other lidded boxes are available for purchase at www.bowlwood.com, and on Etsy at www.timberturner.com.


HJC Editor said...

What a unique jewelry box. looks nice...


Timberturner - Ray Asselin said...

Hi Jane,

Thank you!