RECENT PRO BONO WORK
I am going to post of few of my Pro bono projects of late, of which the one
taking about a week to complete was the recent
Furniture Repairs. Most
of the repair down time was waiting on the Titebond Ultimate III glue to dry
and being retired, I try not get in too big of a hurry......grin if you
Over the decades, I have done a number of projects for others and don't any
of them just jump out right off the top of my head. Back during my
archery tournament days, when our eldest Daughter
Laura was shooting
competition archery, I made numerous overdraws out of aluminum angle and
flat bar stock for our own
archery equipment and others in our City Lake Archery Club. About all that
Pro bono which is a Latin phrase with the only payback
being a Thank
You and the self satisfaction of doing and/or inventing something useful.
Last month, I received an email from Paige Myers, Textile Conservator at the
North Carolina Museum of History desiring a couple mother of pearl inlays
cut that would be fitted to a sewing box that she had commissioned Matt
Neal, also in Raleigh, NC to do for her. Below is a copy and paste of
Hello. My name is Paige and I work at the NC Museum of History as a textile
conservator. I found your website on the internet and was wondering if
you would like to do a small job for me. Or, if not, point me in the
right direction of someone who could. I volunteer with several
different historic sites in NC and give presentations (usually to school
children) about textiles and clothing in 18th and 19th century NC. One
of these programs I am developing is "a ladies sewing box", teaching folks
what tools a lady would have used to sew clothing and do embroidery. I
have someone who is making me a reproduction of an 18th century sewing box
out of cherry with some wood inlay strips and a lock. The keyholes usually
had a bone or mother of pearl escutcheon and possibly some other mother of
pearl inlay work as well. The person who is making my box has never
worked with mother of pearl and is not comfortable cutting it. I only
need two pieces, one diamond or shield shaped with a keyhole
cut in it and an oval or diamond shape for the top of the box as decoration.
I am including a few pictures of original boxes so that you can see what I
am talking about. Is this something that you are able to do? I
will happily pay what it costs for materials and labor. You may
contact me at the number or email below. Thanks so much for your time.
I contacted Paige via email and agreed to do the inlays for her. In
the meantime, she contacted Matt Neal who sent me a brass escutcheon to get
the key hole size opening I needed to cut into the mother of pearl diamond.
MATT NEAL REPRODUCTION SEWING BOX
Below is a pix of the top of the lid:
With the mitered pieces and inlay, the lid takes on a serious 3D look for sure.
MOTHER OF PEARL DIAMOND AND ESCUTCHEON
Matt and Paige requested a large diamond 2.5 inch in length x 1.5 inch in
width and had some mother of pearl blanks that would barely get that size
diamond. Cutting even sided pieces such as diamonds, any small
discrepancy will quickly manifest itself. I no longer have a
pantograph or lapidary saw to make such precise cuts, but had to free hand
cut them with a jewelers saw blade using a stationary Delta model scroll saw.
Above is pix of the layout of the large center diamond and the elongated
diamond shape for the escutcheon. I have the mother of pearl random
size blanks glued to a substrate material of balsa wood which is strong
enough. Using the backing material aka substrate, allows you to
maneuver the material into the jewelers saw blade to affect the cutting.
I have the entire technique of this procedure in my
pages. Back when I did musical instrument inlays in the late 1960s
until around 1979, I did not advertise the procedure I used to manufacture
reproduction pre-war musical instrument inlays, mainly Gibson Mastertone
banjo designs. Now, most all such inlays are done with CNC machines
taking the artist touch from the person.
The above mother of pearl escutcheon with the key hole cut out, ready to
remove the paper cutting pattern and the mother of pearl from the balsa wood backing
There was a good amount of sanding and hand filing with die makers needle
files to fine tune the key hole shape in the escutcheon and truing the
parallel edges of the diamond shapes.
I sent the two diamond shapes to Matt Neal and he will later send me pixs of
the finished sewing box. I contacted Paige and told her there was no
charge for the items. There was a good hour or more of labor involved,
not to mention the cost of the large mother of pearl blank material. I
told her to just mention my name if anyone asked about the inlays and that
was payment enough for me.
ANOTHER ESCUTCHEON PROJECT
While visiting the
Lord George Anson Antiques here in Wadesboro, NC,
Ralph Henry Coble, proprietor talked me into doing a repair job for him.
He offered to pay, but I declined to accept any payment!
The above antique tea storage box priced as $ 450.00, had a shield pattern
ivory inlay covering up the key hole, of which someone added it later,
covering up access to the locking device. We
popped the inlay from the box and Ralph wanted me to cut a hole into the ivory
piece for the key to fit the locking device.
This should have been a fairly easy job, but sometimes things are not as
easy as they look. I needed to drill the hole out of the center of the
ivory shield which was going to be around .200 inches. I center
punched the ivory which broke into three pieces, therefore that part was no
I glued the broken ivory shield back together and placed it on a piece of the mother of
pearl board, scribed around it and then headed to the
drill press. I drilled a small pilot hole to begin with and then
increased the hole size to around .200 inches in diameter. I then,
drew the lower portion of the key hole slot with a fine point Sharpie and headed
to the Delta scroll saw.
The shield pattern was not perfect to begin with and didn't want to
bugger up the existing hole that was roughly routed where the original metal
escutcheon was located. I sanded and shaped the shield to fit the
existing hole that had filler around the ivory shield and it fitted fairly
Above mother of pearl shield escutcheon ready to be glued in place and
will be delivered to Ralph Henry Coble, waiting for a new home with someone
"deep pockets" or a long coat tail!
Years ago, maybe decades, I did a similar repair to an antique letter box
owned by Ralph, of which I made an oval shaped mother of pearl escutcheon key hole cover.
The letter box had an inlay of some type missing in each corner. I used
tracing paper to match the existing routed cavity and cut and inlaid the
four missing corner inlays which were tear drop shaped if my memory is
"cup of tea" is
building things, not doing
repairs. Murphy's Law
Web published by Bill aka Mickey Porter on 04-25-17.
I delivered the above tea and sugar storage box to Ralph on 04-29-17 and
he was very pleased. I promised him I would install a metal escutcheon
key cover on a beautiful antique tool chest and carried a few hand tools
with me. Ralph had several brass finish metal escutcheons in the shape
of a regular elongated key hole and it wasn't a problem to fit one.
Only had to drill the round hole larger and make the elongated keyway a
little larger. We applied some epoxy glue to the escutcheon, C clamped
it and allowing it to cure out before he reinstalls the locking device.
When I finished with the tool chest, he stuck some money in my shirt
pocket and I told him there was no charge for what I did. If you know
Ralph Henry Coble, he doesn't take No
for an answer. He said to take Joyce aka my bride out for a nice
and I plan to do so. I can see those "beautimous" grilled ribeye
steaks on our plates as I type.
I plan to go back to Lord George Anson Antiques sometime in the future
and do a short story on Ralph and his business. There is something for
everyone in his shop; just be sure and have deep pockets for some of the
items, since he has some wonderful "high dollar"
antiques for sale. There are reasonably priced antiques in his shop as
well for us shallow pocket folks.....grin if you must!
Ralph and myself sat on the front porch and chatted for a good while
going back in time on various subject matter. He allowed me to pick
through a large box of mailing labels, composition notebooks, etc. to bring
home with me at no charge.
Web published update by Bill aka Mickey Porter on 04-29-17.
LEAVING ON A SPIRITUAL NOTE
If you do not know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, please take this
moment to accept him by Faith into your Life, whereby Salvation will be
Romans 10:9 “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord
Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the
dead, thou shalt be saved.”
link of Bible Verses About Salvation, King
James Version Bible (KJV).
Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and
sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of
soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the
thoughts and intents of the heart.”
Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is
eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of