A box a year

I am almost ready to nail together another oak box. This will be my first with a till, an internal lidded box within the box. However as soon as I pulled the carved front and sides out from under a pile of other scraps a couple of weeks ago I immediately realised I would need to fill in the gap at the bottom of the carving. It is so long since I carved the main portion that I had forgotten my reasoning for leaving the gap, it would have been very easy for me to just make the scroll pattern tall enough to fill the space. In any case the gap exists and I want to fill, in this case I’m going to try a very simple pattern. Unfortunately I don’t have the right chisel for the job so will have to buy one before finally nailing this box together. It is frustrating not to have the right tools at hand but I have always tried to be strict with myself and only buy or make tools for jobs as the need presents itself. I struggle with the temptation to waste money on tools on a weekly basis and barely manage to stifle the urges most of the time. A long time ago when I got my first three carving chisels from a lovely family in De Beemster my father warned me not to be in a rush to add a multitude of fancy chisels to the collection but instead patiently build it based on need.
It turned out to be another 10 years before I started to grow the collection but I did not forget the original advice. In any case, out of necessity I have been forced to limit my tools to those that I could transport over and back from London to Ireland so there has been a constant sifting process. For instance I have only ever had one cheap spoon carving hook knife and one straight carving knife for the last six years, and my Gransfors Bruks carving axe was my only one until I started to hew green oak. Now that I have a few more axes, chisels, a bunch of planes and other paraphernalia associated with my bench woodwork I am not sure how I feel about the extra volume of tools, which has stemmed from having a fixed workshop. Note the clutter:
Lately I have been greatly inspired by this old video that has circulated, and the work of Tamas Gyenes that Peter Follansbee highlighted on his blog (thanks). One aspect in particular that has inspired me is the absence of a fancy workshop or myriad of tools. Such has been the inspiration that I am setting off next week to visit Tamas in Hungary and spend some time learning how he makes his green beech chests. I’m hoping to keep the blog updated with reports from that experience. In the meantime here are some photo’s of the latest box, nearly a year since I started making it. Apologies for the poor quality and weird wide angle lens, my usual camera is not working at the moment.


The till in position
Some of the joinery and grooves for the till and hole for the lid- very basic stuff
Fitting the 3 till parts in
The scratch stock used to create a moulding on the till lid

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