Easy chair woodworking

I find it difficult to just sit in the garden and just stare at plants. My idle hands need something to do. Some folks with that problem have tried various pastimes, like carving, etc., but that kind of work is a little messy. So what to do?

Take up Kolrosing of course! Roughly translated from Norwegian this means etching patterns into a wood surface.
Unlike mine shown below, some really beautiful work can be produced with this method. Just check out this link to see some really good examples of this type of work.

How to do it
You just need a flat wood surface. On the one above I used a little experimental mitred box I made from construction fir to try out using my router for mitering.

Work like this box at the beginner level is real easy to do and quick (this one took about 10min.), but with practice some really fine work can be produced, but it will be much more difficult and time consuming depending on the level of detail and expertise of the craftsman. For this motif I found a picture I liked on the net then traced the outlines to make a line drawing. I transferred the line drawing to the box lid using some graphite paper. Next I put some beeswax on the top of the lid. I’ll explain why later, then I simply cut the lines at 90 degrees and about 1/32" deep with a little knife. After that I rubbed in some nutmeg powder. You can also use cinnamon, chill powder, grill rub, instant coffee, etc. These powders should be dry when you rub them in. The next step is to rub some oil over the filled lines. The pre-waxed surface prevents the colouring and the oil from penetrating the grain around the cuts. Shellac sealer is much better for this purpose, but I used what I had. This kind of work is also pretty easy on the hands in case you have arthritis.
A tight grained white hardwood works best; Birch, Maple, etc.,

What to do with them after they’re finished
If you have made a little box like I did it would be great to give it to one of your children or grandchildren. In 40 years when asked why they took up woodworking they will probably say that their interest all started with this cool little box they got from a parent or grandparent. If you hate the result, as an alternative you can give it to your mother-in-law who will feel obligated to keep it on display in her living room. Just make sure to sign someone else’s name on it so they won’t believe her when she tells them that you made it. I might have to do that with this box. My children and grandchildren are all grown up now.

Mike, an American living in Norway



This looks like a nice alternative to woodburning which sometimes can be tricky to keep the line thickness uniform. I like the mother-in-law idea . . . very clever!

Thanks for teaching us yet another new trick.


“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” Benjamin Franklin

Kolrosing is interesting. The link leads to a lot of nice work.

I like the idea of pre-waxing.

Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

Now if I could only sit still in the garden long enough! If I sit down, I always find something to do or some weed that is calling to me!
I love the idea and the boxes are really neat.


Reminds me of scrimshaw. That’s a great project for the kids to work on. Thanks for the tutorial.

Losing fingers since 1969


I checked out the link and all the beautiful pictures. My eyes stopped at some beautiful spoons — spectacular. When I clicked on it, guess where it took me? TO YOUR WORK! :)

Toxins Out, Nature In - body/mind/spirit

Thanks for the comments folks. I hope you will give this craft a whirl, especially if you are more graphically gifted than myself.
Yes, it is exactly like scrimshaw work. Originally ashes from the fire were used in the cuts and then rubbed with some animal fat. A historic variation on the ashes was the use of bark scrapings to get more color and now just about any ready ground powder with color.

I sure wish I could take credit for those beautiful spoons, but that is not my work. I just used them in another blog I did several years ago about kolrosing. I haven’t actually been practising it myself. This is my first half serious attempt at it. The craft is not nearly as easy as it appears at that level. Many of the same rules apply to kolrosing as for woodcarving, like cutting with the grain, sharp knife, nicely prepared surface, etc. However, as you can see it needn’t be intimidating for a beginner either.

Mike, an American living in Norway

Love this site for the new skills one can learn – inlaying with coffee grounds and now Kolrosing. These are two things I will be trying in the future. I checked the link Mike – beautiful work! Thanks for sharing.


Beautiful stuff Mike.

Tor and Odin are the greatest of gods.