What trumpet player doesn't have too many spare mouthpieces rattling around in a drawer somewhere? I crafted this elegant and functional box as a novel solution to this age-old problem. Now if only I can remember where the rest of my mouthpieces are hiding, so I can move them to their new home!
The sides and lid are walnut with oak and mahogany accents. The walnut board I used for the sides features a mixture of heartwood and sapwood, with a subtle variance from dark brown to light tan.
I built this largely with hand tools, and occasional tool marks are apparent on the surface. Some of the tools I used are 100 years old. Sometimes newer is not better. These old tools outperform their newer counterparts dramatically.
To achieve this satin sheen, I hand scraped every square inch of the wood surface, then hand burnished it with a heavy cloth. Next, I applied five coats of blonde shellac to protect the wood grain without masking it, and without altering the color. I rubbed out the last coat with 00000 steel wool and Johnson's paste wax. I don't have any babies handy for comparison, but the resulting glass-smooth surface is considerably smoother than my wife's butt.
The mouthpiece block and the bottom are 3/4" oak plywood. The bottom features matching holes bored most of the way through, and accommodates varying lengths of mouthpiece shanks.
I originally planned to line the inside of the box with red velvet, but I couldn't bring myself to cover up the beautiful wood grain. This box is not built for travel, and is intended to hide a problem in plain sight in an attractive way. As such, I felt the extra padding afforded by the cloth was optional.
|The box accommodates up to 18 mouthpieces. I tried to space the holes to accept a collection of heavyweight 1C sized pieces, but I don't have any to measure. Published online measurements only list inside cup diameter, not total outside diameter, so there was some guesswork here. (Yes, that is a French horn mouthpiece in the photo above. Looks painful, doesn't it?)|
|I fashioned this knob from scraps of the same wood used to build the rest of the project. The mahogany took on a rather darker orange color here. The inside of the bowl shape on top of the knob is a little rough looking. It was hard to work that endgrain with nothing left to hold it to the lathe. Next time I will do a knob with a convex top.|
|Here is a close-up of the beautiful grain on the box lid. I expect the mahogany strips to darken to a deeper orange color over time.|
|Here is an overview of the top. I sized it slightly loose on purpose, to allow for wood movement over time. I had originally planned to glue this panel in, then saw off the top, and affix hinges and a closure of some sort, but then I saw those scraps, and decided to make the knob instead. If I were building a more travel-oriented box, I would build it with a hinged top, and a hasp.|
|I did this photo in black and white to emphasize how the grain lines wrap seamlessly around the corner.|
Copyright © 2006, 2008 D. Michael McIntyre, all rights reserved