FOR WANT OF A SCOTCH GLASS BOX

If you drink scotch, or any whisk(e)y, you've no doubt heard of the Glencairn Glass. That's it above. It's a short, slightly wine glass-shaped glass that holds about 200ml of liquid. A dram of scotch, or any liquid, is only about an ounce, or about 30ml which comes to just below the fattest part of the glass. The shape, with the mouth being smaller than the rest of the glass, concentrates the smells coming from the liquid, which helps not only the aroma of the whisky, but, therefore, the taste. The design of the glass is about 25 years old, but it didn't really start to become popular until the Glencairn Crystal Co., near Glasgow, Scotland, started to create a market for it around 2001. Now these glasses are everywhere.

I started toting my glass around in one of those disposable Tupperware-like boxes. First it was just packed with tissue paper, but then I got fancy and cut up a scrap piece of shipping foam from the warehouse at work into the shape of the box and the glass just to see how that would be done. Life was good, but that started a search for a nice wooden box to take the place of the plastic one.

   

After two years of not getting that Goldilocks feeling, and finding a box that was 'just right', I decided to take matters into my own hands and make my own. Someday I'll learn not to do that. I guess if the plastic box was the prototype then this one is the proof of concept box.


2015-01-10 - The Journey Begins

Plan your dive and dive your plan. Works good for SCUBA diving, so it should work well for this, except when I dive I usually have an idea of what I'm doing. This time I kinda have a plan, but no clue how to do it. I only know what I've seen in the movies.

I could have made a box just for the glass, but a good scotch drinker has at least a couple of accessories. In my case I have a small teaspoon for measuring water added, and a watch glass cover to put over the mouth of the glass for trapping smells inside. The teaspoon was just something I found somewhere and I bent the end into a hook so it would fit inside the glass in the plastic box.

After thinking about this for a few months it finally hit me how to build a box -- several layers of wood with holes cut in them. After this epiphany, or what would be for other people common sense, and after pulling a few hairs out to make curvy-like lines in my drawing program, I ended up with the layout above. It's about 5"x6". Ignore the parts of the circle inside the hole for the glass. I just don't know how to make them white.

The hole for the glass, and the hole on the right for the watch glass go through all four layers of 3/4" wood. The funny-shaped hole on the left will be one hole in the top/first layer, but then be split into two holes in the second layer. The little bridge of wood between the holes will help with getting the teaspoon out of the hole. The four circles in the corners are where rod magnets will go to hold the lid on. The four smaller holes are where four 2 1/2" brass screws will come up from the bottom layer and hold everything together. You won't see them. The heads will be covered with the bottom of the box. They'll give TSA something to X-ray and scatch their heads over.


2015-01-20 - Let The Ordering Begin

Living in a small town is great if you are normal. No crowds. No traffic. The local Mexican resaurant is just as fast as a fast food place. Nice. But there's also not a lot of shopping if you are goofy and trying to build something like this...starting from scratch. You either have to drive north to the big city, or order stuff and wait for it to come in the mail.

A smart man once said, "If you are going to cut wood you need a saw." He doesn't sound very smart. I think maybe I said that. Anyway, I couldn't agree more. Originally I envisioned just a box made of six flat pieces of wood which would have been no problem. I would have just used shaped pieces of foam to do the fancy stuff. But after I figured out how to make the curvy lines in the drawing program that kicked the project up to the next level in complexity.

I did my research and ordered a DeWALT DW788 Scroll Saw. I didn't know what I was really looking for, so I just sort of went off of user reviews and forum posts I found on the web. I ended up ordering the saw from Amazon. It only took two tries. The first one arrived after a few days, but had obviously been dropped. Hard. Somehow the ends of the top two cardboard box flaps along one side/corner of the box had been folded under themselves about 2-3". Then the box had popped back out so that everything almost looked normal, except for the folded under flaps. I was impressed. I didn't even open the box and contacted Amazon.com. Within a half-hour they were overnighting me a new one. !!! At that point I was really impressed. The new saw, and the stand, arrived the next day in great shape.

I don't have a place at home to work, so I do this stuff at work. We have a large warehouse there. Just to stay out of the way I keep my saw in my office, so the first thing I built for it was a rollie cart out of some plywood and three casters.


2015-01-28 - Foam Quest

All I want is a specific foam rubber that I don't know the name of. How hard can that be? The one place I know I've seen it is on the bottom of handheld 1/4 sheet sanders. It's squishy, but not real squishy. It's also waterproof. I'm sure the glass will get put away damp and you don't want things growing in the foam cusioning.

I've had this rubber ball sitting on my desk for several years, and a couple days ago I realized that this is the stuff.

I got in touch with a place we use at work that makes custom foam inserts for shipping boxes for some of our equipment. They made a guess and are going to send me a sample of a foam that they sell. We'll see.


2015-02-04 - The Foam! The Foam!

Closed cell, cross link polyethylene. That's the stuff. It's not very spongy, and if the box is dropped the glass will probably break, but then the box probably will too, so... With it being fairly stiff it's easy to cut into shapes. I used a band saw for the prototype. It worked OK, but I need to get a smaller blade. One that's 1/2" wide makes for some ugly corners.


2015-02-14 - Let's Get Started

Over the past three weeks I've been collecting all kinds of bits and blades and saber saws and sandpapers and magnets and toolboxes. It's time to start cutting something.

For most of the time I planned on wasting some 3/4" plywood for this project. I haven't bought any plywood for a while and was somewhat miffed that 3/4" plywood isn't even 3/4 of an inch these days. What is wrong with this country? Luckily I was looking around a part of our local lumber yard that I don't usually go through and found a rack of planed, squared, and wrapped in plastic pieces of oak. They are labeled 'project boards' and could be used for shelving, or something like making boxes. At $10 for a 3' 1x6" I figured I could afford to mess that up. Now that it's going to be made with real wood I guess I'll have to do a better job.



I cut off four pieces, covered them with blue painter's masking tape, sprayed the tape with some adhesive, and stuck the patterns to them. I clamped them all to each other just to press the patterns on good. After that I called it a night.


2015-02-15 - I Like To Cut

Cutting is fun! I'm not good at it, but it's still fun. It makes you sweat from nervousness. I drilled starter holes, ran the blades through them, and cut out all of the pieces. I tried several different blades, but don't have a favorite yet. I can drive the saw into a little cubby hole in the warehouse which stops it from rolling around, so I don't even have to take it off the rolling platform I made. It also makes it a little taller and just right for standing and cutting.

Since the pattern is glued to the masking tape, and not the wood, it all just peels off when you finish cutting. I didn't use a lot of spray adhesive, but everything stayed stuck pretty well. I guess the silicone in the masking tape really does lube up the blade a bit, because I didn't do any wood burning at all.

Gee...it didn't take very long to make a few lumps of wood look like something useful. This is almost instant gradification. I would have stacked a couple of pieces together and cut them at the same time, but I needed the practice, so I cut them all separately.


2015-02-19 - Another Fun Thing

I've always been kinda fascinated by routers (and shiny objects as well), but have never owned or used one. I've only seen them used by relatives and on TV. I bought a Makita Compact Router thinking I could do some serious damage with it. I tried it out tonight. I secured the victim piece of wood to the table with some leftover redwood slats I had from another project so it wouldn't move up and down, but I laid it on top of a piece of 60 grit sandpaper so it wouldn't move right and left. The harder you push down the better the paper grips. It worked well. If the paper had been stuck to the table I probably could have done it without the redwood pieces.

I wanted the holes in the top where the items go to have a rounded lip. That seemed easy enough -- just like world peace -- but I didn't want to try doing it with sandpaper. All of the router bits I could find that did something like a 1/8" radius corner had a 1/2" ball bearing on the bottom of them as a pilot. The hole for the watch glass cover is 3/8" wide, and a 1/8" radius seemed like a lot. Plus the corners of the hole where the glass goes had pretty tight radii (the pattern has already been changed for the next box to not have that), and part of the hole for the teaspoon is only 1/4". wide. I finally found the bit of my dreams online a few days ago. 1/16" radius, and the pilot section is just 1/8" diameter with a 1/4" shank. Yay!

One of the original four layers of the box didn't look very good. There was a lot of 'not following the line' going on when it was cut. Must have been the blade's fault. I altered the pattern a bit and made a replacement for it. I started using the original piece for testing various things. I tested the router on it. This is going to work out great. I learned a lot of do's and don'ts router'ing those three holes. One was pay attention while cutting. Ignore the foam you see in the box. With an example of the general idea of how to cut it right in front of me from the prototype box I cut it wrong. Also ignore the bad cutting job along the bottom edge of the wood. That's why it was replaced. That's the good side.


2015-02-22 - Return Of The Foam

That's better...

So the idea, which I forgot to take all the pictures of, is to cut a solid block of foam the size and shape of the hole for the glass. The blue tape on the foam (above) was where I marked the size of the hole and drew in some lines for the "skin". I could have used the actual pattern for this. The final height of the foam on the sides only has to be half the diameter of the glass, plus about 1/4" (for the thinest place under the glass). Any higher than that and it's not going to be touching the glass, so why bother? Also with the foam on the sides being lower than the top of the hole more wood in the hole will be visible. I'd rather see more wood than foam.

After I got the block cut I went around the edge of it with the scroll saw and cut about a 1/4" thick "skin" off of three sides of the block. The inner measurements of that skin are about the size of the glass. I took the resulting new and smaller block of foam and cut the bottom off of it to the shape of the glass. Above you can see all of the cut marks. That's how good I am with a scroll saw, a pair of scissors, and a band saw. It has to be cut right the first time, otherwise it gets too thin to try again. You can see here I know that from experience. I was being a chicken and didn't cut the sides thin enough the first time. The glass wouldn't fit in the hole!, so I tried to fix it. I won't be a chicken next time. I just eye-balled cutting away the missing portions of the sides with a scissors. I'll figure out a better way to do that next time.

   

The semi-final foam product. With a little piece of foam on the lid the glass won't be going anywhere.


2015-02-24 - The Lid

Cutting wood is fairly straightforward. Coming up with the concept for the lid was not. I didn't want just a hinge of some kind and a latch...the next box may be that way. Magnets came to mind. Four magnets in the top layer of the body of the box, and four thin wafer magnets imbedded in the lid itself. Simple?

Sticking 3/4" long by 1/4" diameter rod magnets in the top of the box is simple. Here I'm just testing different sizes of holes on a piece of scrap. The magnets will stick up a little bit and fit into shallow holes in the lid to keep it from sliding around.

Now all I have to do is cut a little slot in the side of the lid and stick a magent in there. Not simple. The magnet is 1/4" by 1/2" by 1/32" thick, so the thinner the slot the better. To get the magnet mostly over the end of the rod magnet the hole has to be 3/4" deep. A thin hole (1/16" would be nice) that's 3/4" deep is the tricky part. I managed to kinda do these two holes with a 1/32" and 1/16" drill bits. I'll have to think about this some more. Drill bits are too flimsey, and not really made for cutting sideways. You can't just keep cutting holes next to each other, because at some point the bit just bends and goes down a previously drilled hole.


2015-03-01 - Good And Bad

The good news is that the DeWALT DW734 Thickness Planer that I bought is really nice, and even fun to use! It zipped right through the pieces of oak and bubinga that I bought for the bottom and top pieces of the box. They came out smooth as a baby's behind. Unfortunately you are not supposed to run pieces less than 12" in length through it, so the two pieces I already cut for the bottom and top before I bought it will just have to be sanded smooth and flat. That's OK. It's a learning experience.

It was time to drill the holes for the rod magnets in the top piece of the box to hold the lid on. Above is a picture of the magnet concept complete with the corner that was blown out when the drill bit broke through the piece of wood which was then carried up the drill bit at 1200 RPM. That's OK. It's a learning experience. This is actually the first piece that I've broken beyond repair, so that's not too bad.

Squint a lot, or have several beers like we do when looking at seismic data, and you should be able to ignore that the grain in the lid is running the wrong way. Next time.

Since working with layers 1 and 2 was out of the question I decided to glue 3 and 4 together. A little Elmer's Glue, some clamps, managing not to break anything, and that was ready to sit for a couple of days.

I just happened to have another piece of oak that I was going to use for the next box, so I was able to cut a blank and glue on the pattern before cleaning up and going home for the night. We'll try 'er again tomorrow.


2015-03-02 - Back On Track

Today was a makeup day. I cut the replacement for the cracked first layer from yesterday.

I learn kinda quick. Clamp it down or else.

Quickly got all of the scroll saw work done then glued the top and second layers together. That's all for tonight.


2015-03-03 - A Sanding We Will Go

So tonight's focus was to get the hole for the teaspoon (on the left side) finished up so the two sets of layers could be glued together. The hole only goes through the first two layers, so if it wasn't done now it would be pretty hard to do later.

I got to use a little something I came up with, but that may exist elsewhere. With the narrow places on this piece I needed a skinny something to use for sanding. I was able to order 1/4" diameter sanding sleeves, but I couldn't find anything to use with the sleeve to mount it to the drill. I found that a 1/4" carriage bolt with a washer and nut worked. There wasn't anything to really keep the sleeve from slipping and not spinning, except not pressing too hard against the wood. That kept me from getting in a hurry and trying to remove too much material too quickly, so that was a good thing. It got the job done. A 3/8" bolt also works for the 3/8" sleeves.

I glued a piece of the pattern for the two sections of the teaspoon hole to a thin piece of the foam, and cut that out using scissors.

Now for the fancy part. The little bridge of wood in the teaspoon hole in the second level acts as a fulcrum for the spoon. You push down on the handle end and the spoon end pops up above the top of the box so you can grab it to get it out. I've been waiting weeks to see this in action.

I've been scratching up the surfaces before gluing them together by making a few passes over a 60 grit piece of sandpaper. I don't know if you need to or not, but helps me sleep better.

One step closer to a box...

The next major step will be continued sanding of the inside and outside of the body of the box. I've got belts and discs coming for The Equalizer above. Use of it has to do with tonight's lesson.

Tonight's lesson: Every single little mistake you make when cutting out a project will come back to haunt you when the time comes for sanding. Keep that in mind.


2015-03-04 - Sanding Sanding

Tonight's excitement involved sanding the crap out of the hole for the glass, and the narrow hole for the watchglass cover.

It was pretty straightforward. Started with a 1/4" sleeve that I think was around 120 grit (I think that's what I ordered) in the corners, then moved to to a 3/4" 60 grit sleeve for the bulk of the fixing. Had to use a rat tail file in a couple of places -- see last night's lesson. Finished up with some 220 grit sleeves and a little hand sanding.

   

Once I was sick of sanding -- I mean the sanding was finished -- I drilled four holes from the bottom up for some 2 1/2" brass screws to tie the four layers together. It seemed like a good idea.

So I thought that was it. I rinsed off everything with water when I was finished and boy do I have a lot more sanding to do. Everything felt really smooth when it was dry, but a lot of little hairs stood up when the wood got wet. I'll work on that tomorrow. I'm waiting for sanding belts and disks to come in before I'll be able to move on to the top and bottom pieces. They could take a day or two to arrive.


2015-03-07 - Professional Sanding

Now we're talkin'. The nice FedEx person delivered the sanding belts and disks that I had been wating for today. I bought these for the big sanding machine we have at work. I have no idea how many years the old belt and disk has been on it. OK, maybe not for years, but probably pretty close. Now I don't have to worry about it, except for the disk. I can't take that off when I'm finished, so it will get used by others since it actually works.

Above is my new best friend.

Got to take my 1/4 sheet palm sander for a spin. I put some 220 grit paper in it and got all of the scuff marks from the belt/disk sander out of the top and bottom pieces. I had to use the belt sander as a bit of a planer on those two pieces, because they were too short to run through the real planer. Everything did a pretty good job. The 220 grit paper made the wood almost feel like silk. I have some 330 grit paper. I wonder what that will do? I'll try it once everything is together and routered.

I used the old disk from the big sander as a work surface. It was still a little sticky on its back, so it stayed put, and the friction with the thin top and bottom pieces got them to stay put. It was "dead" enough that it didn't scratch the side against it.

Like LarryEA at the Scroll Saw Village website says, "You can 'NEVER' have enough clamps." I believe him. I'll leave it all clamped up overnight then add four brass screws to help hold the bottom piece on, and for looks, tomorrow.

Just ignore in the picture above that the grain of the top 3/4" layer doesn't match the other three below it. It's from a different piece of wood (I broke the first one, remember?). Another thing to keep in mind. Actually, I'll alternate the grain in the layers of the next box.

Today's lesson: A 12" sanding wheel with 150 grit paper can remove wood faster than your scroll saw. I almost screwed up the bottom piece of the box by taking off too much when I was trying to 'cut off a little' to make it a little closer to the size of the main body of the box before gluing. Nothing a little more sanding can't fix. Next box will only have interior sanding done until the whole thing is glued together.


2015-03-08 - I Can Almost Taste It

Getting awfully close to the finished product. Today started with drilling four one-inch deep holes, giving them the countersink treatment and screwing in four brass screws. The bottom is (mostly) glued on, so these are more for looks than to really hold the bottom piece on. Don't skimp on the glue! LarryEA says that too. I've got a couple of places where there is a visible gap between the bottom layer and the bottom piece. It's a learning experience.

After that I went back to my new best friend and removed the little bit of excess bottom that stuck out beyond the sides of the box. I'll wait to sand down the sides until the bottom piece is on when I do the next box. I kinda got things a little out of order this time. It's a you know what.

Time for my dream bit. Overall it went pretty well. Got it adjusted to the right depth the first time and did the tops of all of the holes, all of the way around the top outside edge, and all of the way around the bottom outside edge. Took seconds. Should have taken a little longer. I made one booboo. The bit made another.



The brass piece at the bottom of the bit is not a bering, so it spins against the wood as you go. It leaves a mark which for the most part you can't really feel, but that has to be sanded back out. I used some 320 grit wrapped around a piece of dowel. Got rid of it right away. The bottom edge of the brass piece may have a slight burr. I'll try rounding the bottom off with some sand paper and doing some tests. My booboo was the gouge around the 1/4" magnet hole above. I didn't have enough light when I put the bit into the hole and didn't notice that the router wasn't straight up and down. Oops.

For those hard-to-reach places.

Ooooooo.

All dressed up and almost good enough to drink out of. It feels like a piece of furniture. I'll leave everything in it overnight as a test to see if anything falls out.

I'm going to think about the magnets and the lid for a couple days. Maybe. After getting the lid flat it's down to about 7/64". That may just be too thin to work with. It was supposed to be 1/4" thick. If I were a better carpenter...

Today's lesson: Have plenty of light. Sigh.


2015-03-09 - Easy Night

Tonight was simple. A little super glue and some pounding and the four magnets are in place. There was only one chance to get it right. Even without the glue the magnets would have needed to be pounded into the holes, so if one went in too far or not far enough I'd have been screwed. I'll attack the lid with the original plan tomorrow night. I did mess up a little. The two magnets at one end were supposed to be, for example, north pole up, and the two at the other end south pole up. That way the lid would only go on one way. I got distracted by a coworker and put one of the magnets in the wrong way. It doesn't feel right, but you can still put the lid on the wrong way. Next box.

Nothing fell out during the overnight test.


2015-03-10 - Baby Steps

Actually, I'm stalling. I'm not looking forward to cutting the slots in the edges of the lid for the magnets.

Tonight I only drilled the shallow holes in the lid that match up with the magnets in the body. Got 3 out of 4 of them in the right spot. I'll clean up that one at the top later so it's not so obvious.

Glued a poorly cut piece of felt to the bottom. I don't know why I didn't notice that bad corner before spraying the glue. I might fix that later too.

I just couldn't resist playing with the 12" disk sander one more time to clean up a couple little descrepancies between the width and length of the box and the lid. Also a couple corners of the box were rounded a bit differently than the same corners on the lid. All is better now.

This was a big help in my stalling. The cart for my planer came today, so when I was finished with the box I put it together. It's pretty nice.


2015-03-11 - The Hard Part's Over

Looks like surgery. The slots in the lid for the magnets. I've been dreading this since I tried to do it for practice a couple weeks ago. It actually worked out OK this time. I had the right stuff, and I hardly broke anything.

I started by drilling 1/16" holes at either end of the 1/4" wide slot, then drilled one or two more between them. The slots needed to be about 11/16" deep to hide the 1/2" long magnets.

Once the holes were drilled I changed to a 1/16" die cutting bit. It's for cutting metal and works OK for this. I just moved the lid back and forth while slowly lowering the drill press. Any 1/16" drill bits were too flimsy, and things like router cutting bits that small are only 1/4-1/2" long.

Plenty of room for the magnet. Not the best looking slot, but it'll get the job done.

I guess I picked the wrong year to give up heroin. I need to find something like a syringe to get the glue and saw dust mixture into the right places in the slots to encase the magnets. I just have scotch tape keeping the magnets in the slots for now. The strength of the magnets are good enough to pick up the box by the lid, but you can't shake it very hard before they let go. I would have liked a little more strength, but it'll do. That's all for tonight.


2015-03-12 - Two By Two

Trying to wrestle four magnets that don't want to stay put, in spite of being magnets, and keeping a bunch of glue from getting all over everything required that this operation be done in a couple of steps. I decided to take the Crazy Glue and put a good drop of it in the pocket below the two holes on one side, then drop the magnets in and put the lid on the box and turn the box on its side.

With the box being on its side the glue will stay in the pocket and not run out and glue the lid to the box. With the lid on the box the magnets will be pulled into position while the glue drys. In the morning I'll flip everything over and do the two magnets on the other side. Once the Crazy Glue part is done I'll work on the wood glue and sawdust filler. I think I can come up with a non-medical syringe of large enough diameter.


2015-03-13 - Short And Sweet

Well that was easy. Managed to find a supply of cheap plastic syringes with a built-in "needle;" that ended up too small to suck up glue and saw dust mixed together. Oh well. It turned out I didn't need no stinking syringe.

I saved some of the saw dust from the bubinga wood that was generated when I cut out the lid piece way back when. I mixed that with some wood glue and mixed it up good with a piece of shish kabob stick from a lunch party we had today at work. After figuring out it was a bit hard to suck the glue into the syringe I tried just stuffing the glue into the magnet slots with a straightened out paperclip.

Not bad. The color was pretty light went I started. I was a little worried. But now as it's beginning to dry it's getting darker. It may end up darker than the wood. The mixture was thick enough that I was able to fill all four holes without dripping, so tomorrow should be the last day for this project unless the glue shrinks a lot as it dries. Nice.


2015-03-14 - That's All Folks!

So this is it. The last steps. I sanded off the excess bits of glue from the magnet slots in the lid, and then it came time to router the corners off of the top and bottom edges of the lid. Before doing that I set up a lamp so I would have more light. Remember? The glue in the magnet slots dried to a color pretty close to that of the wood, but after routering the edges it got a bit greyer in color. I think it may have been the heat of the rounding bit going by. They still look OK. It was a bit tricky to keep from doing a little wood burning of the Bibinga with the router. Gotta remember that.

The foam had been in and out of the box over the past couple weeks and got a little dusty. I washed it off and put it out in the sun to dry. Since the sanding was done I also washed off the box.

I was going to glue a piece of foam to the inside of the lid to help hold the glass in place, but decided that was a bit overkill. I just barely touches the glass at its fattest point. Good enough.

There was a bit of leftover Crazy Glue and rough edges in the lid magnet holes. The awl on my trusty Swiss Army knife did a good job of removing all of that. That's why the magnet in one of the pictures is so shiny. I also used it to knock off the sharp edges of the holes themselves.

We've seen this picture before, but this time the box is finished! Once the magnets in the lids were in their right places after gluing the attraction got a bit better and the lid stays on quite well. It has it's flaws, but I learned a whole lot building it. I'll do better with the next one.

THE END

2018-03-03