Saturday, December 15, 2007

Sun or Shade

This Piet Mondrian in wood shows several species in their natural hue; no stain or finish has been applied. With colors like these, you pretty much can't go wrong if you're making decorative boxes. Just let the wood do the talking.

One thing to consider, however, in choosing wood for its color is the long term effect of sun or shade on the color's intensity. These pencil boxes I made a few years ago were very colorful upon completion but over time, the saturation has changed.

Sun can either brighten or darken wood, depending on the species, so the lid of the middle box now looks dark and dull. The underside of the lid, however, still resembles the box when it was first made. Why? Because bloodwood and padauk, woods used in this particular box, darken in sunlight.

The second to last photo is a padauk board that was partially covered by another board in my shop. The part that was getting some sunlight turned dark maroon, while the portion in shade remains orange/brown.

Now, with some wood, it's preferable to keep them in the light. Purpleheart and cherry, for instance. The piece of purpleheart sitting on top in the last photo has been getting plenty of sunlight in my shop while the board below it has been buried in a lumber pile (it's actually brighter than I expected). Purpleheart turns bright purple in sunlight but turns brown in shade. Cherry, as most people know, starts out as a light pink when first milled, but darkens to a rich brown over a relatively short period of time.

So, if you're planning to rely on wood color in your next project, you might want to consider what will happen to its color over time.

12 comments:

Wyldth1ng said...

I have only used poplar, pine, and oak. I can't imagine using different types. Scary.

The Village Carpenter said...

I love working with pine——makes the shop smell great!

resare said...

Hi, I like the pencil boxes. Did you cut the mitre key slots (located on the corners of the carcases) freehand? I am a beginner at woodworking and my first attempts at cutting these were somewhat askew. This operation is done close to the end of the job, so to avoid messing up after doing a lot of work I am thinking of making a jig to get more accurate results next time. But, then again, maybe I just did not apply sufficient attention when sawing the first time.

The Village Carpenter said...

Hi resare, I cut them on my table saw with a jig. I'll post a photo of the jig tonight if you want to see how it looks. I used an ATB (alternate top bevel) blade and cleaned up the kerf with a small chisel, but a better way is to use a flat-tooth sawblade so the bottom of the kerf is flat. I'll post photos of that, too, in case that doesn't make sense.

resare said...

Thanks, but actually I'm considering a purely hand tool approach since, unfortunately, I don't have any power tools (save a drill!).

The Village Carpenter said...

Wow! Well more power to you! (pun intended).

In that case, it's all about layout and cutting a straight line. If your saw is listing to one side, then that means it's cutting more agressively in that direction and the teeth are more pronounced on that side. If that's the case, then you can lay the aggressive side face up on a flat surface, and lightly drag a water or oilstone along the side of the teeth. With each pass, check to see if your saw is cutting a straight line. It doesn't take much to correct the cut.

resare said...

Thanks for the advice. I should be able to try this using a better quality saw soon as well - assuming Santa has picked up on my hinting.

The Village Carpenter said...

I hope Santa comes through for you! : )

LadyBurg said...

The boxes are beautiful! I love the colors of the wood. I had no idea until I met you that trees has such a pretty center.

The Village Carpenter said...

The woods I used are pretty tame compared to some species, which can be downright spectacular in color and grain. Burl wood is amazing, too. You can't improve on mother nature!

XTL said...

I wonder if the colour change is purely UV effect. Some finishes might block more radiation than others. You could try finding the right sunblock for the woods you don't want to change :)

The Village Carpenter said...

xtl, I wish I knew more about finishes, but that is one of those topics I can't get a grip on. So I have 3 or 4 favorite finishes that I use. I'm sure you are right that there are finishes that have more UV protectant than others. If you find any good ones, let me know! : )