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See 99 Marvelous Lidded Boxes in This Woodworking Contest

by Mark Stephens | March 17th, 2015
Prizes for the woodworking contest

The top three entries in this contest win some fantastic tools from our fine vendors.

I really hope you spend more than a few minutes browsing the gallery of marvelous projects below. The 99 lidded boxes you’ll see are the entries in our latest woodworking contest, and we’d sure like your help picking the best ones. No doubt, it might be overwhelming. 99 boxes is a lot of boxes.

We set two requirements: 1). the boxes must be no larger than 16″, and 2). they must have a lid. With that, these woodworkers sauntered to their shops and created some stunning work.

You’ll find triangle boxes, hinged boxes, sliding lid boxes, one “secret puzzle” locking box, several turnings, dovetail joints, a few scroll-sawn boxes, some with fancy exotic woods, others with reclaimed and repurposed materials, and dozens of others that’ll simply blow your mind. The boxes are made by hobbyist woodworkers who, as you’ll see, have some fascinating skills that should be celebrated. So that’s what we’re going to do.

On Saturday, March 21 at 5:00 there’s going to be an awards ceremony and maker reception at Practical Art (Central & Camelback in downtown Phoenix) – if you can be there, you should! There’s nothing quite like getting to see these great looking projects up close. In fact, there are more than a few pictures below that just can’t convey the detail, artistry, and well-honed skill that went into creating the boxes. Come see these in person if you can, we’re collecting votes for your favorite three entries at Practical Art. (If you can’t come on Saturday, try to swing by anytime this week between 11:00 am and 7:00 pm – it’s open.)

First Place: Tormek T-4 wet sharpener
Second Place: Wilton Tradesmen Vise
Third Place: Tenryu Gold Medal 10″ Table Saw Blade
+ more prizes

For those of you who can’t make it to Practical Art at all, cast your vote here.

Online Voting Ends March 21, 2015, 9:00 AM PST/12:00 PM EST

  • Determine your three favorite boxes
  • Enter the 3-digit code listed under the picture of your favorites
  • Choose three different projects
  • Do not vote for the same box more than once per ballot. Ballot will be disqualified.

Online voting is now closed. Results are posted here

3 More Easy & Exquisite Finishes for Mahogany Woodworking Projects

by Mark Stephens | March 10th, 2015

Each of these finished samples is 8″x20″ and cut from the same board – yet, you can get vastly different (and beautiful) results with a very simple technique, demonstrated below.


If you’ve seen our other tutorial on three tips for finishing mahogany, you’ll start to notice a basic four-step formula I like to employ to arrive at certain colors and characteristics:

  1. Dye
  2. Sealer
  3. Glaze
  4. Clear finish

That’s it.

Does it seem like an arsenal of chemicals? Believe it or not, the steps go quickly, and it’s actually a watered down version of what many professional furniture finishers do. So, don’t worry – this is not an uncommon practice, plus the steps you see here can be pulled off by any hobbyist woodworker with supplies found at a retail woodworking store.

There’s nothing especially proprietary with the brands and products I’ve used in the tutorial below. You can use similar colors by other brands. These just happen to be my choice because they work well and I’m accustomed to them.

I’ve performed these finishes on genuine Mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla) from Belize. But they’ll work on other types of wood such as African mahogany.

1. Classic Aged Mahogany

It’s one of the certainties when working with mahogany that once you cut it, plane it or sand it, the freshly revealed wood is disappointingly light. Mahogany needs to oxidize to its naturally coppery bronze color. Or you do this instead. Age it with a little bit of dye and a soothing, yet light, glaze of brown. The result is a wonderful and consistent warm mahogany color that very few would believe .

Products used:

  • Behlen Solar-Lux NGR Dye “Golden Fruitwood”
  • Zinsser SealCoat (dewaxed shellac)
  • Old Masters Dark Walnut gel stain

How to do it:


2. Cognac Mahogany (Greene and Greene Style)

If you want less gold and more brown in your mahogany, try this. It’s a variation on the Greene and Greene style recipe by Darrel Peart that begins by mixing 7 parts orange to 4 parts medium brown dye, then diluting the mixture and applying it in a series of coats. (Applying dye in several diluted coats is a good practice). Instead, this mix is 5 parts orange to 4 parts brown. The only difference between this finish and the “Classic Aged Mahogany” above is the addition of the brown dye.

Products used:

  • Behlen Solar-Lux NGR Dye “Golden Fruitwood”
  • Behlen Solar-Lux NGR Dye “Brown Maple”
  • Zinsser SealCoat (dewaxed shellac)
  • Old Masters Dark Walnut gel stain

How to do it

Start by mixing a batch of dye in a mixing cup. Try a 5:4 ratio of Golden Fruitwood to Brown Maple. Then move on to these steps, which are essentially the same as above.


3. Burgundy Red Mahogany

Going further, you can take that same mix of dye that’s used in the cognac color above and just add a little bit of reddish purple to arrive at a starkly different color.

Products used:

  • Behlen Solar-Lux NGR Dye “Golden Fruitwood”
  • Behlen Solar-Lux NGR Dye “Brown Maple”
  • Belen Solar-Lux NGR Dye “Medium Red Mahogany”
  • Zinsser SealCoat (dewaxed shellac)
  • Old Masters Dark Walnut gel stain

How to do it

Start by mixing a batch of dye in a mixing cup. Use 5:4:2 ratio of the dyes in this order Golden Fruitwood:Brown Maple:Medium Red Mahogany  Then do the same application process.


See The Entries in The Woodworkers Source Box Contest

by Mark Stephens | March 9th, 2015


For months, 100 woodworkers from all over Arizona immersed themselves in building custom hand-crafted decorative boxes for entry into our woodworking contest. The only constraints to the project were that it must have a lid, and it must be no larger than 16″.  From there, the entrants enjoyed the wide open space of creative freedom to carve, turn, shape and polish to their heart’s content. You should come see what they’ve built.

The exhibit lasts from March 17 – 21, it’s open to the public, and you’re invited to come see it.

You’re sure to be overwhelmed by the variety of interpretations, attention to the finest details, choices of designs, and skillful uses of woods that each participant put effort into. In fact, you’ll be asked to cast your vote for your favorites, in turn we’ll award prizes to the top entries.

Come check it out:

Come See The Display of Custom Hand Made Decorative Boxes


March 17 – 21, 2015
11:00 am – 7:00 pm


Practical Art
5070 N Central Ave
Phoenix, AZ 85012
(602) 264-1414