DOUBLE-FISTED BOX MAKING

2015-05-31 - Well This Is Different

With this box I'll be going simpler. Just a hole for the scotch glass, and a hole for the watchglass cover. No straws or teaspoons. There will, however, be a twist in construction where the middle two of the usual four layers of 3/4" oak will be replaced by two 1/2" layers of walnut and one 1/2" layer of oak. The lid and bottom pieces will also be walnut. I'll also be doing a Henry Ford impression by shifting into a mass production mode and making two boxes at the same time. I must think I'm getting good at this.

The blue lines in the pattern are a propsed plaid engraving pattern like in the picture of the lid below. That one was just some random test lines.

I thought when I made the lid for my first box, above, that having the grain run horizontally was a mistake, but it seems to be the right way to do it, so I'll do that this time. The lid grain on my second box runs vertically and it doesn't look so hot.

When I made my second box, above, I thought running the grain of the body vertically was the right thing to do, but I want it to match the lid, so I'll cut the body pieces so it runs horizontally, instead. My third box was that way and it looked OK.

Went through all of the pieces of wood and laid out where each layer should be cut from avoiding knots and stuff. I put little stickers on each section and labeled them with the piece number.

Since four of the layers were going to be 1/2" oak I was forced to pull out the planer and shave 1/4" off of the 3/4" project board that I was using for the oak after cutting off four 3/4" layers. It sure is fun using that planer. It does a really nice job. I have a hard time screwing up planing operations.

Ta da! The pre-cut, pre-planed pieces of 1/4" walnut I bought were not that great. I should have just had them cut fresh pieces from their stock up at Albuquerque Exotic Woods, but I didn't want to mess up their pretty, big pieces. The two lighter-colored pieces above are for the lids and from some walnut I bought up there a whlie back just to play with. The color difference is enough to bug me. The leftover piece from the pre-stuff was a little too warped to use for the lids, but I may try to fix and use it anyway. I can't really plane it into submission, because it might get too thin, and I'm worried that it might go into warp speed after the box is finished. We'll see.

Getting all of the end grains to run the same direction on the sides of boxes has become a big part of my life...especially since I have yet to make a box where they are not screwed up in some way. These two boxes stand a chance of being correct. All of the grains on the sides of these two boxes will bend up and back down like a rainbow, but it's early, and I haven't glued anything yet.

Each layer gets a name: Lid, bottom, and layers 1-5 top to bottom. This is piece 2-2 ready for pattern gluing. It's for box 2, layer 2.

That's going to be a lot of cutting, but only four pieces are 3/4" thick, so overall it might be easier.

Hope I don't wear out my saw.


2015-06-01 - That Was A Lot Of Cutting

I thought I'd be clever this time around and put little alignment bumps on two sides of the layers to help get them lined up with each other when it's time to glue them all together. Once the blocks of wood for the clamps are on I can't see into the glass hole to see if the layers are all in the right place, and the excess material that I leave outside the pattern lines are all different thicknesses. Given my cutting skills I probably won't be able to make the bumps all the same shape, but I'll try to at least make them all the same height. If this works out I'll just add these dots to the pattern.

About three hours and I'm done. It went pretty well. I used a #12 blade for the 3/4" oak pieces, a #7 for the 1/2" oak pieces, and a #5 for the walnut pieces. The walnut IS easier to work with than the oak, and most layers being thinner than the usual 3/4" made it even easier.

The saw survived.


2015-06-02 - And Then There Was One

So this is the general idea of what the box will look like. Pretty, huh? I guess we'll see. The first order of business tonight was to drill the four rod magnet holes in the tops of the first layer of each box.

The last hole of eight (OF COURSE it was the last hole) didn't go as planned. I think the clamp holding the piece down to the drill press table slipped off of one of the ridges on the bottom side of the table at just the right time. The drill bit grabbed the wood as it broke through the bottom of the layer and that was all she wrote. I've seen this before. I just gotta be more careful. I'll get another piece of wood and recut all three oak layers. If you just redo the broken one the grain patterns won't match. Oh well. Carrying on...

Yummy! It looks like cake. Another small problem I've had is glue voids between the layers that show up when you start sanding away the excess material. I slather on the icing to try and make sure it doesn't happen. It makes what looks like a bit of a mess, but it all disappears as soon as the sanding starts.

All clamped up with nowhere to go. You can see the little alignment bumps above. I think those helped. They weren't quite precise enough to use by themselves, but if a layer is off a bit they will show it right away...if you're paying attention to them. I may try a variation on these bumps in the future.

Recutting and planing oak, figuring out the lid situation, and start sanding tomorrow.


2015-06-03 - It's That Time Again

I've decided to continue with just the one box. If I can get it finished in a week that will be a good thing.

As with the other boxes four #8 2 1/2" brass screws are countersunk and run from the bottom and into the first layer to help hold the body together. None of the other boxes have come apart, so it must be working.

To keep the bottom from being marked up by the table of the drill press while perfoming my favorite activity I covered the corners with some gaffer's tape. It's thick enough that the uncovered areas of the bottom won't touch the table.

About 1-1/2 hours of sanding down. Now that I have all the stuff I need to do the job it goes more quickly. I removed most of the chunks of glue and started getting the inside smoother with my unpatented rat tail file sanding bit that I used before. After that I switched to an 80 grit 1/2" sanding tube, then to a 120 grit 3/8" sanding tube. I couldn't help myself and did a little bit of sanding on the outside with my favorite 12" sanding wheel. Nice.

Another couple of hours tomorrow should make it ready for foaming and getting the bottom on.


2015-06-05 - Cough Cough

Still sanding. It's getting smoother, but this hardwood sure is hard.

I thought there would be a bigger difference between the colors of the oak and maple, but the piece of maple I used was a bit more purple than it was brown, so it's not quite what I was looking for. A little testing with mineral oil turns the maple very dark. Maybe in the end that will help make this look like more what I had in mind, but the oak will get darker too.

Glue. Like sand it gets onto everything. I'll have to figure out how to remove it from this section of wall. It's a bit hard to just use some sandpaper in that slot and do a good job.


2015-06-06 - Finishing Touches - For The Body

Most of the sanding by machine was done, but the parts for the drill press were still useful for use by hand.

I pulled out the Dremel and tried a couple of tools to get rid of the glue in the hard-to-reach place. The wire brush tool worked the best. Just be careful when buffing end grains. It will remove the soft part of the wood and leave grain ridges. Found that out in testing. It could be used for a nice effect on some other project.

Got the bottom piece sanded a bit and ready for installation as soon as all of the interior sanding is finished.


2015-06-07 - Bottoms Down

This bottom piece was a little warped and it was a bit unweildy to get clamped on, but eventually I applied enough clamps and got 'er done. I need to come up with a slightly better method for this step. It's always a bit tricky to get the bottom piece on and in the right position. Maybe I'll put a couple of the screws for the bottom in next time to keep things aligned. They usually get put in after the glue holding the bottom on is dry.

Not that I think there is going to be a lot of mistakes cutting the foam, or anything, but I made two blocks that can be used for the box, and one block from some scrap that is a little too thin for practicing on.


2015-06-08 - That Went Well

Once the bottom is in place and the clamps are on I can't really get into the cavities anymore. It would be nice to be able to so I could wipe away the excess glue, but I have to deal with it after it's dry. There's no real good way to do that. It usually ends up looking like a mess.

I tried using #6 1" screws to hold the bottom on instead of #8's. I won't do that again. They are a bit too flimsy. One of them broke off. I super glued the head into its hole. Shhh. Don't tell anybody.

Instead of the 12" disc I decided to try the belt sander end of the machine for this box. It worked well. I clamped a board to the table to make less of a gap for the piece I was going to sand -- the lid. I didn't want it to slide down between the table and the belt and ruin the piece or the sander.

I don't usually sand the lids like this, but the piece was a bit warped. I was able to take care of it in just a couple minutes.

This is what happens when you try to sand something thin without that board installed. This is the same piece I was working on, but later. It needed just a little more sanding... I'd already taken the board off. Zap! Lesson learned. Luckily, since this had all started out as a two-box project, I had the other lid with the pattern already attached. I quickly cut it out, sanded it a bit, and continued like nothing had happened before anyone even noticed.

Got all of the magnets driven into the holes. These 1/4" diameter rod magnets just fit into a 1/4" diameter hole made by my DeWalt drill bit. They are super glued in place. They were installed with the north pole up for the two on one end, and the south end up for the other two. That way the lid will only go one way.

For some reason the holes in the lid ended up being almost exactly where the pattern said they should be. I could be getting good at this. I used a 17/64" bit for these, so there would be a little wiggle room for the rod magnets.

I needed some walnut sawdust for filler and cut a few swizzle sticks of it off of some scrap. I wonder if I use these for stirring scotch if they will impart any taste?

As usual, cutting the slots for the magnets in the edges of the lid took about two seconds with my Dremel jig. After that I glued the two magnets on one side in place, stuck a bit of the walnut stick into the hole to keep the magnet all of the way into the hole, let the super glue dry a bit, then repeated it for the other two.

So that's what those are for. I was told that they were disk drives for recording data in Antarctica. Anyway, they're heavy. I put the lid on the box then set this up on my desk and let it set overnight. The idea is that once the glue drys the magnets will be pushed into (toward the top of the lid) as far as they can go.


2015-06-09 - Lids And Foams

Tonight was lid and foam night. I used the syringe from a couple of boxes ago that I thought I'd use to fill in the magnets slots on the edges of the lid with glue. It didn't work very well that time, but this time I drilled the hole of the syringe out enough to finally allow the glue and sawdust filler to go through. It worked pretty well. When I sanded down the edges of the lid there were no voids in the filler. That works for me. It's a real pain to clean those slots out, refill them, wait for them to dry, and resand when there are voids.

Cutting the foam went shockingly well. Cut the large piece the size of the glass hole with the scroll saw using a #5 blade, then cut the "skin" off of that with the scroll saw, then cut the wavy bottom off of the center portion with a 1/8" wide blade on the band saw. That's the same as all of the other boxes. What I did differently this time was start cutting the wavy piece where the bottom of the glass would be, instead of starting at the top where the mouth would be. Maybe that was the difference.


2015-06-10 - The Home Stretch

Got the felt pieces glued on with the Elmer's spray glue so I could continue spreading the mineral oil. I don't think the glue will stick where there's oil, so I just dab it on up to the enge of the felt pieces. Unfortunatly this piece of felt was a bit thin, but it was the best I could find in town, and I really wanted black, instead of grey. I'll have to look for some better quality stuff next time I'm up in Albuquerque



I cut down the skin of the inside foam with just a pair of scissors, but it's always been a trick to get the bottom of the foam that I cut away to match the curve of the bottom piece. After grinding the finger dent into the box there was a little pile of saw powder on the drill press. With the foam in position in the box I blew a kiss into the box with the saw powder in my hand. It drew a plenty good enough line that I was able to go back and draw in with a Sharpie. Problem solved from now on. Nice

After I got everything cut I glued the foam in with a bit of rubber cement and then finished coating the exposed wood with the mineral oil. To press the floppy parts of the foam into place while the glue dried I just had to put back in the leftover foam piece.

Not bad. Everything fit quite well. I should have redone the glue in the magnet slots on the edge of the lid. It shrunk a bit as it dried. I didn't have enough time left.

Well, not terrible. It didn't look like much until I put the mineral oil on on it, but I still don't like the way the oil makes the oak look. I don't care for that yellowish-brown color.

I had planned to engrave the plaid pattern in the top of the lid, but the other day I just happened to look at the first box I made where I did that, and I could hardly get the top off. While doing nothing but sitting in my air-conditioned office the past few weeks I discovered that the lid had warped a fair bit. My second box that I use for my scotch glass, that lives where I live, that travels around the Southwest a bit, that has the same bubinga lid, but doesn't have the engraving is fine. So I think I'll hold off on the engraving. That walnut wants to warp a bit when just looking at it as it is.

Lessons learned on this box? Don't use #6 brass screws. You either have to make the pilot hole so big that the screw will probably strip out, or they twist off pretty easily. Walnut doesn't really look like much until you put mineral oil on it, although there is an old wives tale about walnut and ammonia fumes that I am going to look into. I'd also like to try some kind of paste wax, instead of mineral oil, as a treatment, but I'm not sure how food-safe that is.

2018-03-06