Mr. Melvin Wilson, Metal Shop Antioch High School

When I was in high school, back in the 60’s at Antioch, California I was a shop rat.  Partly because I’d managed to get kicked out of many other classes but mostly because those (and band) were the types of class I really enjoyed and applied myself in.  Back in the day we had a full compliment of Industrial Arts and our metal shop teacher was Mr. Wilson.  Now you may wonder what that may have to do with my present day woodworking so let me explain.  Mr. Wilson’s’ method of checking the integrity of our welds would be to take us out behind the shop and heave our project up in the air.  If it stayed in one piece after bouncing on the ground your weld was considered sound.  If not, it was back to the bench to re-weld all that had come undone.  By the way, the welding bench was a good place to sneak a smoke — an acetylene torch would make quick work of a Marlboro if Mr. Wilson came around!

You may recall that the mystery box had issues with the strength of the mitered joints.  I’ve discussed that with my client and they really like the clean look of that so my next plan was to try a splined miter to see how it would work.  What better way to test it then with Mr. Wilson’s time honored method?

I managed to capture it in mid-air after tossing it up and finding it in the view finder and as you can see, it broke!

Wilson-3Breaking wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.  Hopefully no one would throw a box up in the air to check it’s integrity but if you’ll notice it was mostly the wood itself that broke.  The joint is stronger now because we’ve increased the glue surface and the addition of the spline gives a better grain direction for a bit more strength.  Notice how much of the box side held on to the spline.

The next step is making yet another prototype but this time using a splined miter.  I’m using a piece of clear Pine and will use some Lacewood for the tops and bottoms.  This sample will hopefully turn out much better and it’ll be placed on my Etsy store when it’s complete.  We’re going to make the real McCoy out of the Wenge and the Brusso hardware will be ordered soon.  Their hardware is probably the finest you can buy.  The prices reflect that but the quality is first rate.  No sense creating a $500.00 presentation box and adorning it with China’s finest crap hardware!

Here’s a photo of the assembled Pine box, the height of it makes it a bit stressful to get the glue and clamps positioned but I believe it’s going to be just fine.Wilson4

About woodworksbyjohn

I'm a retired woodshop teacher. I build one of a kind furniture pieces and custom picture frames. You can see some of my currently available work, boxes, carvings through my Etsy store: Contact me about your project -- always up for the challenge of unique work.
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2 Responses to Mr. Melvin Wilson, Metal Shop Antioch High School

  1. Kathysue says:

    Loved this story and your method of finding joint strength.


  2. dianeeugster says:

    If John builds it, it will last a long, long time!


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