I was asked a while ago to make a box to store bread in. I gave a minimum quote and said I would cleave wood and nail it together. Not any old nails you understand, but nails made from pure natural iron drizzled with the sweat of the blacksmiths. I had a huge lump of rippled willow, which unfortunatly would not cleave very well. I sawed the wood out on my bandsaw and stickered it with weights on to dry out over the weekend. Because the wood was not quite quarter sawn and it wanted to move a bit from internal stresses. I thought it would be best to dovetail it. I have never made a nail in my life and I thought the young lady concerned would not appreciate my sweat drizzled over the nails.
I needed the dovetail practise as I have some apple wood boxes to make later in the year. Believe it or not, I have managed never to make dovetails in my life before.
I also wanted to use my trade mark wooden hinges. Not wanting to rely on glue to hold them onto box and lid I made them dovetailed. The wood for the hinges is English walnut. I did use a bit of glue but, this box can be made with no adhesives at all, just a couple of small dowels through each hinge to stop them sliding out.
Knowing my client prefers a natural finish, I got one of my long handled open sweep hook knives and starting in one corner, went over each side of the box. This was remarkably quick and gives a beautiful textured and tactile finish.
Willow is a lovely wood to use and I highly recommend giving it a go. The hook knife finish also works just as well on other woods, you may have to spend slightly longer on it though.
I was really please with the box, and wanted to make a longer one for our kitchen, but somehow I got the measurements wrong and made the first box 2 cm to small, so no wood left over. The old adage of measure twice and cut once is very true, but does not take into account misreading the measurements in the first place.