…and color me foolish.
Okay, these pics are a little out of order. I actually built the box, then dug out the soft maple from the lean-to a couple days later.
I saw something like this box in a magazine, and its simplicity captivated me. Sometimes we’re so busy making complex things, trying to figure out the next joinery or assembly problem, that we forget how simple what we do really can be. We build boxes.
So when I saw a simple, utilitarian box that wasn’t shy about showing off top-notch joinery, I couldn’t resist. Which brings me to the reason for this post.
I had no intention of writing about this little project. It actually started as a solution looking for a problem. I had to build this box, so I needed something to put in it. Well, my… chainsaw stuff needs something other than a cardboard box? O.k., that’ll work.
So I (in the original Yankee tradition) look at whatever I have lying around the shop, and decide to build it out of some scrap soft maple that somehow made the cut for my in-shop lumber rack. I have no idea why it was there, but it was dry and fairly wide.
I cut this soft maple several years ago because the trees had to come down, and, what the heck, lumber is always useful to have around. However, this particular species seems to have an abundance of powder post beetles. Heretofore a rumor I’ve read about in the lumber drying circles, powder post beetles are a real nuisance. You don’t know they’re in the wood until it’s cut, dried, and stacked long enough for them to bore their way out, making slightly-larger-than-pinholes all over your hard-earned material.
So, I stacked a good bit of it out in the lean-to and decided that some day it may burn well.
Yes, I’m getting to my point. As I surfaced this lumber for my box, some of the prettiest wood I’ve worked with began to appear. A wonderful contrast between heartwood and sapwood that I didn’t expect just got deeper and deeper as I got deeper into the project. Truth be told, I didn’t exactly pay a lot of attention to it until I began finishing. I viewed the project, most of the way through the process, as one made from scrap that otherwise didn’t really have a good use.
Only after the finishing process began did I realize the beauty I had uncovered. I was thrilled. The rich brown heartwood tones rivaled that of walnut. The silvery-shimmering sapwood had a creamy color that made you want to eat it.
Some of the figure was unexpectedly nice, too.
Anyway, it piqued my interest in what else I had out in the shed, so tonight I went and had a look. I was happy to find some nice wide soft maple boards that I, only a few years ago, dismissed as probably not very useful. Needless to say, that stack of maple moved indoors to continue drying to a more user-friendly moisture content, and I can’t wait to see what else I can get into with them.
The moral of the story? Almost nothing as inherently useful, and inherently beautiful, as wood can be junk. I think I need to reread my “Wood Snobbery” post.