Article: Ray Jones Demonstrates For CMW December 21, 2013

January 01, 2014 10:00, submitted by Tina Collison (author: Bob Gunther, photos by Tina Collison)

CMW Demonstration on December 21, 2013 by RAY JONES


Ray Jones is a member of CMW and lives in Asheville. He was born in 1955 and grew up in Northern California. During the summers, while in college, he worked as a construction laborer/carpenters assistant. During that period he became proficient at making things with his hands. When he completed his degree in Aeronautical Engineering from California Polytechnic State University in 1976 he moved to Southern California to work for an aerospace propulsion firm. When he set up his first home he bought tools instead of furniture. He then made his furniture. Once the furniture was completed he began making gifts. These included a unique jewelry box for his wife to be. This box design proved to be the foundation of his woodworking career which began in 1982 when he left his engineering job. Since that time he has been making wood boxes full-time and selling them at craft shows and selected galleries. In 1990 he moved to Western North Carolina where he now lives with his wife, Linda, and their three adult children.

Ray enjoys making wood boxes, turned or otherwise. “A wood box should be just that; wood. So as much as possible I use only wood in my boxes, including the hinges, fasteners, and drawer slides. I am fascinated by wooden mechanisms and the intersection of various geometric shapes. The tremendous variety of woods fascinates me. I try to use sustainability harvested, plantation grown, salvaged, or otherwise ‘environmentally friendly’ woods whenever possible.” Ray wants his boxes to feel as good as they look so he finishes them with multiple coats of a ½ part linseed oil/ 1 part polyurethane/ and 1 part mineral spirits mixture and then rubs them to a silky smooth finish. Examples of his boxes can be found locally at the Grove Arcade in downtown Asheville. It is of interest that he has made a box for the president of the Republic of Kosovo that housed 2 ping pong paddles and 2 balls. He also made two boxes for two dignitaries of the Republic of China. These were made at the request of the United States Government.

Morning Session:

Slide Show: Ray began his demo with a slide presentation showing examples of his work beginning with his rolling pins, napkin holders, postage stamp dispensers and clocks. Next he showed his production boxes, which are not turned, which he produces about 400 per year. His turned boxes were initially made of Baltic Birch plywood to give stability. Then he began to make his own plywood out of oak, walnut and other species. He uses no stains, paints or dyes. Before making a box he does extensive drawings that are full size. From these drawings he can make patterns that enable him to accurately size both the interior and the exterior of his pieces. His half-moon series was shown which are half turned (back portion). Other series such as the Omega and Scarab were also shown. Finally he showed a box made with two hinges which would be the topic of today’s demo.

Demonstration: Ray showed the two-hinged box that would be made. He first attached a disc of plywood on the surface of a 6 inch face plate using double sided tape. He marked the center of the piece so that it could be centered on the faceplate. The tailstock was brought up to apply pressure on the wood against the tape. The face of the disc was trued up using a roughing gouge. It needs to be flat to slightly concave. A line was drawn across the center of the piece. A drill chuck was placed in the tailstock and a 3/16 inch hole drilled into the center. A recess was then turned on the piece with a 3 inch diameter using a parting tool going about ¼ inches deep. This will accept the #2 jaws in an expansion mode. The piece of plywood was then removed from the faceplate and the faceplate transferred to the outboard spindle to act as a hand wheel. The plywood disc was then placed on the jaws. The edge was trued up using a roughing gouge and the face was also trued up making it flat or slightly concave. Another recess was made for chucking up later in the demo.

(Editor's Note: Initial use of CMW's new Oneway Lathe at this demo)

Two 6 inch diameter madrone discs, each about 1½ thick, had their centers marked. One piece was stuck to the plywood disc with double-stick tape. The line originally drawn through the center of the plywood was extended to the edges. The tailstock was brought up to compress the blank to the plywood and the line on the madrone was lined up with the plywood line (the lines on the madrone blanks were drawn through the centers parallel or in line with the grain). A circle 5/8” in from the edge of the rear of the plywood was marked. The piece was then removed from the jaws. The madrone portion was marked as the bottom as was the side of the plywood mandrel that it had been taped to. Holes, 3/16 inch diameter, were drilled on the drill press through the plywood and ¼ inch into the madrone blank. The holes were drilled on the circular line about 1½ inch from the center line. These would have pins put in them and used for alignment.

The piece was then placed back on the chuck (mandrel) with the pins extending out toward the headstock end. The piece was then shaped (bottom) using the roughing gouge. The edge was trued. A tenon was turned on the surface of the shaped piece to accept the jaws in a contracting mode. The madrone bottom blank was then removed from the plywood mandrel where it had been attached with the double stick tape. The pins were removed prior to the separation. The madrone was then placed in the jaws so that the interior surface of the bottom of the box could be hollowed which was done with a bowl gouge. Hollowing was done inside the pin holes. A round nosed scraper was used to clean up the inside surface of the bottom half. The edges of the wall thickness were trued up so that there were no high spots and so it was perfectly flat or slightly concave.

The bottom piece of madrone was removed from the chuck and the mandrel placed back on the jaws with the side marked “top” facing the tailstock. The piece of madrone for the top was attached to the mandrel. This is done so that the pin holes will line up. Double-stick tape was used to attach the top to the mandrel. The line on the madrone was lined up with the line on the mandrel and the tailstock brought up. The edge was trued up. The piece was then drilled on the drill press as was done earlier with the bottom section. This completed the morning session.

Afternoon Session:

The top was then shaped as done in the morning session with the bottom. A tenon was turned so that the interior of the top could be hollowed. The madrone top piece was separated from the mandrel and placed in the jaws. It was hollowed and the edge trued up and made flat or slightly concave. As done with the bottom, a circle was scribed just inside the pin holes. This became the outer limit when hollowing. Short pins were placed in the four holes in the bottom piece and it was then attached to the corresponding four holes in the top. Double-stick tape was used to attach the two halves. The pins act only for aligning. A 3/16 inch hole was drilled in the center of the bottom half. The hole was ¼ inch deep. The tenon on the top half was turned away and the shape of the entire top half of the box was refined with a skew. Then the joint area between the top and bottom was trued up so that both diameters were the same.

A ¾ inch hole was drilled with a Forstner Bit in the center of the top so that the knob to open the box could be fitted. Then a router sled was placed on the ways of the lathe. It is basically a table with a fence 90 degrees to the ways. The mandrel was left in the jaws and the headstock locked. The mark on the mandrel was lined up vertically in the locked position and then rotated 90 degrees to the horizontal position. The top half was attached to the mandrel, lined up with its line and the mandrels corresponding and attached with double-stick tape and pin alignment. A 5/8 inch ball cutter was placed in the router. The router was set to cut a 5/16 inch deep trough across the top piece to accommodate the hinge pieces. This was cut. The top piece was then removed from the mandrel and attached to the bottom with double-stick tape.

The router was removed from the carriage it was on when the top groove was cut. It was placed in a horizontal oriented router table and a center bit placed in the router so that it could be centered on the location for the cut. The piece was clamped to the router sled and the pin in the center of the sled was placed in the hole in the bottom of the piece. The depth of cut of the router bit was set to cut the groove for the second hinge. The point of the center bit was on the seam between the top and the bottom. When cutting the groove the top piece of the box is facing up. The center finder bit was replaced with the ball cutter and the groove cut. A knob that had been previously turned was placed into the top ¾ inch hole that had been drilled earlier. The top and the bottom were separated. The mandrel was placed on the surface of a plywood board, with the “top” face up. Holes were drilled through the mandrel holes into the board. The top piece was then held in place on the board with double sided tape and pins for alignment. The top piece would then be band sawed with the cut going through the knob so that each half of the top contained half of the knob. Another cut would be made for the hinge line that hinges two portions of the top lid.

The #2 jaws were replaced with #1 jaws in preparation for making the actual hinge. A ¾ inch square pen blank of walnut was placed in the jaws and centered with the tailstock. It was then drilled its entire 3½ inch length with a ¼ inch bit and removed from the jaws. The chuck was removed from the headstock spindle and a pen mandrel on a #2 Morse taper was placed in the headstock. The drilled, square pen blank was placed on the mandrel and tightened. The tailstock was brought up and the blank rounded to 5/8 inch. It was divided into three sections - the outer two 1 inch and the center 1½ inch. The sections were scored using a thin parting tool. The piece was removed from the mandrel and would be cut into three pieces. Before cutting, marks were made on each section so that when divided the grain could be oriented in its original pattern on the final hinge.

Frog tape was used to align the top and bottom of the box. A ¼ inch dowel rod of walnut was placed through the 3 pieces and wax paper placed between the 1st and 2nd and between the 2nd and 3rd so that there was some space between each, but minimal and so that glue would not get between the hinge parts and make it inoperable. The hinge was placed in the groove and centered. The outer 2 parts were glued to the body of the box and the center to the top…. the moveable part. Medium CA glue with a fine tip applicator was sparingly used and hardening sped up with accelerator. Once the three pieces were glued in place the pin was removed and additional glue applied. The same procedures would be done with the other hinge. The hinge pins can have decorative ends added for completeness.

This completed a very interesting and detailed demo.

Submitted by Bob Gunther