Woodworking: Pine Cone Box 1

Woodworking

Madrone pinecone box with epoxy
Pinecone Box Out of Madrone

This box started out by finding a few huge pinecones that fell off a sugarpine tree in Truckee, California.

I thought it would be cool to cast the pinecone in some tinted epoxy and then make some things out of the slices from it. I poured my epoxy into the mold at about 2″ deep (this is the max thickness for the deep cast epoxy by Stone Coat Countertops – or up to 1″ for their normal casting epoxy), but it was pretty cold out and I left my space heater blowing in the garage. I had the heater pointed directly at the mold, and I didn’t think too much about it, and left it on overnight.

epoxy and wood and pinecone

Normally, this deep cast epoxy takes a full 24 hours or longer to cure. The next morning I came in and the epoxy had already cured to a solid block. The extra heat created an exothermic reaction, causing the epoxy to bubble and generate a lot of heat, curing way too quickly. I know it got really hot because the pine sap was melted into the epoxy, leaving a yellow stain in a few spots. I bet it let out a lot of magic smoke and was a crazy sight to see, but I’m glad it didn’t catch anything on fire. I have some video footage of what it looked like, but I didn’t take any pictures. Keep your eyes out on this site for a YouTube video about it.

Pinecone box with epoxy

I had only covered half the pinecone, and this was probably $70 or $80 worth of epoxy. Instead of just tossing the piece, I decided to work with it. I sliced up the piece with my bandsaw and sanded it down. I then began the laborious process of filling in the voids. I did different colors with each difference slice, and it took quite a while to get all the nook and crannies filled up.

This first box I decided to CNC the top piece out after designing the shape in Fusion 360. I made some jigs and fixtures for my Tormach out of MDF and used some router bits to do the shaping.

The wood is California madrone that I harvested earlier in the year. The tree was dying, and my neighbor Joanne wanted it cut down. I milled it with the chainsaw and Alaskan mill — it was tedious because the wet madrone seemed to create a juice that made the chainsaw chain start sticking excessively to the blade. I would have to pull it out and clean it about 3/4 the way through each cut.

I cut some of the pieces at about 1″ thick, and those ones are already at about 10% moisture, which is a good point for me to start processing it. Unfortunately a lot of the wood got some larvae infestation, and isn’t useable. I managed to salvage enough out of one piece to make this box.

The box is finished with Osmo polyx oil in a satin sheen.

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