Early on in my woodworking career, I started
building display cases. It is the kind of fine woodworking that
fits the scale I prefer, which is things I can carry in my two
arms. Display cases need to be finely crafted, commensurate with
the contents, yet not distract from the showing of the contents.
They have to almost disappear.
As you will see, my interest in solid geometry
came out to play with the display cases I built. Truncated cubes
and rectangles, stretched into rhombus sided shapes, fascinate
me, inspired by images of crystals. Over the years my techniques
improved, and I was able to build more elaborate and delicate
A case needs to be structurally sounds, and
support panes of glass. The glass needs to be installed in a manner
which allows easy removal if repair is required. My solution was
to build a frame for each facet of the geometry of the case, with
splined mitered corners. The frame cross section is shown below.
The glass sits on a rabbet, and a stop is pressed into a dado
groove. The stops can be made of the same material as the frame,
or be a contrasting color. Once the frames are all complete, they
are mitered along the edges to form the geometry desired.
|| The first case of this
style was for a model ship which I had built many years earlier.
It was a full plank-on-frame model of the clipper ship "Pedro
Nuñes". The Mendocino Woodworkers Association had
just formed, and hosted the first of a series of semi annual
woodworking shows. I decided to build a fine case for my model
ship. It was one of the pieces that sold out of the show. The
material is coastal Tan Oak.
|| Imagine a cube, and stand
it on one corner. Chop off the bottom corner, leaving a triangular
base, then pull the top corner up, making each side a rhombus.
The case splits along the zig-zag at the equator . A small glass
shelf finishes off the piece. The piece on the left is made from
Madrone, and the piece on the right is Rosewood.
||This piece is made from coastal
Tan Oak. The top of the case lifts off of the simple base.
||This is a cube, truncated along
each edge, and then truncated again on each corner. The woods
are Rosewood and Madrone. I did a little inlay on one of the
corner facets. The base is laminated bent wood Madrone. The top
splits at the lower edge of the full square side.
||This wall hung case is one of
my favorites. The wood is Madrone, with a strip of Black Walnut
accenting each line. There are three glass shelves inside. The
front face is a hinged door.
|| This case is made of California
Black Walnut. There is a small drawer in the lower portion, that
is accessed when the back door is opened. I made a pair of these
for another of the Mendocino Woodworkers Shows.
|| In 1977, I started making
small turned wooden vases, and discovered the world of fine scale
miniature doll house items. I needed a display case for my vases
and made a pair of these shadow boxes. The material is coastal
Tan Oak. The case corners are joined with hand cut dovetails.
||This case is a puzzle, based
on designs I made (see PUZZLES).
The material is Madrone. On the left is the before shot, with
all the pieces laid out. The right is about 15 minutes later,
with the case all assembled. Access is through sliding panels
in the back.