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Muku Yosegi Ring Box

author-gravatar AffineCreations Nov 13, 2017

There is more than one type of Yosegi. Usually we think of the thinly planed off slices of veneer which are used to decorate pieces. Muku Yosegi is the technique where the whole pattern block is used. The patterns are visible both on the outside and inside of the piece. Also has the advantage of allowing almost any wood to be used. We don't have to worry about whether the resulting pattern can be planed. 

This is a ring box someone on Reddit commissioned. I hope it served its purpose well and the gentleman who commissioned it is busy planning his coming wedding. 

I'll start with showing the finished piece. 

A view of the top, because I was really happy with how the fine lines of Ebony came out. 

With it open, to give a sense of its size. I used Brusso hinges. Always makes me nervous to cut the dados for them. Relied on the INCRA fence on my router table. I know I can get precise placements of cuts with it. The clasp is a rare earth magnet on the bottom and a steel screw on the top. By adjusting the screw, I can adjust the strength. 

Before beginning any woodworking on this piece, did a fair amount of design work. I made a bunch of pattern sketches and shared them with the client. Lots of back and forth until we converged on what he wanted and I could make. This was the final design for the top. 

The designs for the sides. I found it handy to image search "Asanoha pattern" to find a B&W image of the basic layout. "Asanoha", or hempleaf, is the basic pattern seen here. Also very common with Shoji as a Kumiko pattern. 

Time to assemble the boards. Curly Maple, Padauk, Yellowheart, and Bubinga. Also are a pair of sandwich boards: Maple/Padauk and Yellowheart/Purpleheart. These are for the top. 

After cutting all the boards into 30-30-120 triangles at the tablesaw. I planned the lengths of the boards to generate more pieces than I needed so I could pick the best. These are tricky shapes to cut. Also included are the strips of Ebony veneer I'll use when making the top. 

Sorry I don't have more photos about gluing up the triangles. I'll show this step more in a future post. But here you see test fitting the small triangles into the larger ones I need. 

And the pattern for the top starts to emerge. 

Checking out how the pinwheel pattern for the sides looks. Do you see it? I put one of the triangles for a pinwheel in backwards. I think my kids were surprised to discover just how many curse words their dad knows. Anyway, after thinking on it overnight, I carefully cut out the errant triangle at the bandsaw. Realize at this point, I haven't glued the top and bottom rows of pinwheels together. I cleaned up with a chisel and used some of the space pieces to make a new triangle and glued it in place. 

After the repair job, I glued the two rows together, including some scrap between them. This is there so later I can cut the top of the box from the bottom at the bandsaw without losing any of the pattern. 

Gluing up the pieces for the top and bottom of the box. 

All three boards for the box: the top/bottom, front/back, and sides. To the pinwheel boards, I've attached a Wenge border. I have yet to do the same for the top/bottom board. This is because I will be making a 45-degree miter box but I don't want sharp 90-deg edges when done. And when I cut the miters, I don't want to risk the patterns getting defects along the miter edges. 

At the bandsaw, I cut the boards in half and then used a 6" drum sander to bring them all to the same thickness. Then time to glue all six pieces together. Bound tightly with cord and let dry. The end result. 

Next step is to route off the Wenge border and replace with Wenge strips. Why? Because the original Wenge had the miter seam down their lengths. After attaching the new Wenge strips and bringing them flush, I beveled them to 45 degrees. 

Cut the box in half and sanded off the remaining scrap wood. 

Time to start the finishing process with Tung Oil. Kept the surface wet with Oil for 20 minutes then wiped it all off. Then wiped again the next day to catch any that seeped out the pores. Then forget about it for at least a week. 

After the Tung Oil has fully cured, I buffed with steel wool. You know it's fully cured when a white powder collects on the steel wool. I brushed on a couple coats of Amber Shellac. Then started spraying on a water-based lacquer. For such a small box, used an air brush.  Lots of coats. First a bunch to pore fill. Then to build up for a high gloss finish. Apply a few coats, sand. Repeat but sand at a higher grit. Continue until 1500 grit. The polish with Rottenstone and a final buff with Renaissance wax. 

 I used Target Coatings' EM6000 lacquer.  They were impressed enough they used a couple photos for promotional purposes and gave me a free gallon. Yippie for me. 

Thank you for reading. Sorry so many missing steps, just hard to keep up with the photography when doing a project like this. Please feel to ask questions. 

1 comment

Stunning work, I love the colors! So beautiful.

Thank you for sharing your process

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