Brandon Cornwell

Blacksmith, Woodsmith, and Wordsmith


Not much of my woodwork has survived the years, having been left behind or destroyed over time, moves, so on and so forth. These projects are all from years past, where I didn’t have the ability/foresight to take pictures as I made these things, and sometimes, all I have left of them is the picture of the finished product, more’s the pity. Any future projects I take on will have progress pics, as well as explanations of what is going on during the creation process.


Cherrywood “Cornwell” Sign

When I started carving this sign, I didn’t know it was cherrywood. I thought it was a particularly vibrant red oak, but once I got into it, I noticed that the flecking was different, as was the general consistency of the wood; red oak is a lot more fibrous, and even though it was green, this slab was a lot “chippier”, in that it broke off on chips and flakes rather than wanting to hold on to long fibers.

In any case, I got it all carved out, sanded it, and painted the inside of the letters. I put a clear coat on the front, but I neglected to re-seal it regularly. That, and I didn’t cut the bark off the back, which allowed bugs to get in and significantly deteriorate the sign. I still have it, but it is in extremely poor shape. I may refinish it one of these days.

White Oak “Welcome” Sign

I had just built my house in Missouri, and I wanted something to spruce the place up a bit. There had been a white oak tree that went through the sawmill with a significant curve at the end, which resulted in several premium slabs coming off that weren’t really useful for what we were cutting them for. I took one home, propped it up in my woodshop, and over about six hours, turned it into this. I painted the inside of the letters, but not the little flower on the end, leaving that more subtle. I still have this sign, and it is in fantastic shape. It needs to be sanded and re-sealed, but I plan on hanging it up in front of our home here in California.


Cherrywood and Black Walnut Trunk

I am pretty proud of this one, even though I know now that there are a lot of mistakes I made while making it. This is made from the cherry tree that came out of the tree I cut down and used part of to make that sign up above. I also fell a small black walnut, and use the bits from that as trim and support structure for the rest of the trunk.

First of all, I would have let the wood season properly before assembling it… it was a very humid time of year, and the wood had been stored in a shed outside instead of in the workshop, and had a pretty high moisture content. When it dried, it left caps between the board, and warped slightly, making the lid o the trunk less than perfect. The sides are pretty tight though.

I would have broken down and let myself use a proper planar to even everything out, because try as I might, hand planing and sanding didn’t get the boards perfectly even, and I was worried that my working the wood would end up ruining some of the small supply I had.

I would have sealed the trunk much sooner after making it, instead of letting it sit, unfinished, for well over a year before I got around to putting the clear coat on it.

I also wouldn’t have let it catch on fire on the right side. >_<

In any case, I plan on making another trunk similar to this one out of redwood one of these days, and trimming it with either white pine or douglas fir, but using the same dimensions that I used for this trunk (48″ x 24″ x 18″), and maybe giving it a domed top so it doesn’t become a catchall for putting things on, lol. I’ll definitely take pictures of my process as I go!