Double Barrel Incense Burner

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Incense Burner
Incense burner in its natural habitat

This project started off as a few scraps of poplar, purpleheart, and jatoba.  The original intention was to create a candle holder for 3 votives.

I started by cutting the wood into different sized strips and just layout them out next to each other to come up with a pleasing pattern. After finding a balanced design, I just spread some wood glue on everything and clamped it up.

The glue dried in a few hours, and then it took a trip through the planer.  I ended up sending it through a few more times than I initially intended.  I should have paid more attention to the grain direction; the purpleheart and jatoba kept chipping out because they are very hard woods and the grain was running in different directions…

The board turned out a bit on the thin side by the time the planer was done with it, so I was no longer confident that it would work out as a votive holder.  Back to the drawing board…

The middle groove was planned. The bottom profile was a happy accident
The middle groove was planned.
The bottom profile was a happy accident

I flipped it around the right way and cut the final groove, but now I had to figure out what to do with this new “design element”.  A few minutes later, I found myself by one of my favorite tools – the router table!  A quick pass over the router table left me with a nice floating look.  I like it!

I took it over to the table saw and started cutting a decorative groove about half way down using the crosscut sled with an additional guide clamped to it.  It was all going so well, but somehow I flipped the board the wrong way on the last cut and ended up with a groove near the edge of the board.  Crap!

This was my first time ever working with jatoba.  I expected the purpleheart to be brittle, but I had no idea the jatoba was much more difficult to work with.  Jatoba scores 2350 on the janka hardness test, purpleheart is 1860.  For comparison, oak scores around 1300, and poplar is less than 600!  Even being gentle resulted in a good amount of chipping…

A lot of sanding and carving was needed to smooth the chip out
A lot of sanding and carving was needed to smooth the chip out

I hate sanding.  After sanding for about an hour, I decided I was done.  I know, I know, I should have kept sanding until the job was done.  Too bad.  I wanted to get this done during a single Saturday Hackathon, so I went ahead and applied a few coats of Minwax paste finishing wax that I had brought in to lubricate some drawer runners.  That brought out the beatiful colors of the wood, but it also highlighted my poor sanding job.  The pores and uneven surfaces developed an ashy color due to the wax build up.  Luckily, this is going to be covered in ash as the incense burns, so I felt that it was acceptable.  A couple of quick holes on the drill press finished the job nicely.

All in all, I’m quite happy with the way it turned out. I’m not sure that I would use paste wax again for this type of project.  A polyurethane or acrylic finish would probably be a better choice due to heat resistance.  It was a fun project, and now I’m motivated to try again and work on other laminated designs at the space!