Like sands through the hourglass
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Joined Sep 18, '17 

Hey! My friends call me Cal.


Mahogany, cowhide, brass fittings

I got a commission for a D&D-themed calendar, specifically the calendar of Harptos.

Some notes:

  • The calendar needed to be legible from across the table.
  • The design needed to be “aesthetically pleasing”.
  • The calendar needed to be durable enough to travel and relatively compact.

With that in mind, I started thinking about the design. I found inspiration on the web in other cube-based calendar designs, but my challenge was to make it portable and durable while also matching the quirks of the Harptos calendar. (Google it, if you like)

The final requirements came together:

  • Needed to be able to display days 1-30.
  • Needed a way to display all twelve months.
  • Needed to display 6 holidays
  • Decorative, but not overly so.
  • Made of Mahogany (to match a dice tower given to the recipient previously)
  • Sealed with polyurethane instead of my typical oil, for durability.

Basic data:

  • Overall dimensions 4.25" x 2.5" x 4.875" (108mm x 64mm x 124mm)
  • All wood is 1/8" (3mm) thick, and sanded to 600 grit.
  • Finish is a wipe-on satin polyurethane.

I chose some design motifs (the finger joints, for example, inspired by @geek2nurse’s excellent mastermind box), discussed font selection with the recipient (Not my first choice, but he wants, he gets), and selected/modified artwork to round out the design. Without further ado:

The overall design fits in a box (more on box design in a moment), to protect it as it travels. The leather and box are engraved to convey theme, but not too tightly, so that it’ll go with whatever D&D game he may be hosting.


Mahogany, cowhide, brass fittings

The front of the box is engraved with a representation of the entire year’s calendar. It’s fairly legible in person, the pictures don’t do it justice. The mahogany has some excellent chatoyancy to it, you can see the bright stripes running vertically, they change with the angle of the light and are quite beautiful.


Mahogany, cowhide

The backside of the outer box is less visible to the players, but it gives you a good look at the tree motif from the front, representing the turning of seasons. The sun/moon image in the center of the leather belt also ties into the calendar theme.


Mahogany, cowhide

By now you will have noticed the unusual cutlines on the box faces. This is maybe the most interesting part of this entire design. The keyed shapes on the faces align the faces and keep the entire thing fairly well locked. The box, when assembled, will not rotate or come apart. This is why the belt solution works so well to keep the entire thing together, without those keyed sides, the box would rotate and slide apart. Seriously, steal this idea.


Mahogany, cowhide

Now we see what the players will see. The following two pictures show how the calendar “works”. Here we are on the 1st of Alturiak…


Mahogany, cowhide, brass fittings

… and now it’s the 23rd of Hammer. You might notice that the color on the mahogany has a good bit of variability. I originally thought this would bug me and I’d have to find some more uniform material. but in the end, I decided that I liked it this way. Hopefully the client will too!


Mahogany, cowhide, brass fittings

12 months, so three blocks each with 4 months on them. You rotate and flip them to get the appropriate month to be visible in the base of the calendar.


Mahogany, cowhide, brass fittings

Similarly, you have 6 holidays, so three blocks, each with two holidays (front and back). These are designed to sit separate from the calendar – they aren’t actually part of the main calendar, they exist outside of the months.


Mahogany, cowhide, brass fittings

Another view with the other side of the holidays and a full view of the leather belt:


Mahogany, cowhide, brass fittings

Finally, the pieces all stack up before putting the top on. You can also see how the outer box top sits nicely on the table and provides a full year view, if desired.


Mahogany, cowhide, brass fittings

So that’s that. Things to do differently? I might back off on the kerf adjustment to make it an easier glue fit; I chose 0.006", 0.005" would have made my assembly process simpler. Overall I’m pretty pleased with how it came out. It’s pretty labor intensive as it is, so you could probably shortcut things greatly by using solid cubes of wood for the dates and thicker stock to make the holidays/month blocks, but I had to work with what I had, and besides, I don’t have a proper wood shop to make the blocks the exact sizes I’d want. If I were making more of these, I’d look closely at sourcing stock in the correct thicknesses to make solid blocks a possibility.

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