Work continues on this custom order from an Etsy customer. In the previous post I mentioned that I’m making 5 additional boxes using the same techniques as the custom one. Doing a series of boxes is more efficient, especially when it comes to machine work and setting up the required tools. Thankfully, the bulk of the noise and dust created by those machines is over and it’s now time for some quiet handwork. Cutting the mitered pieces on the tablesaw with the sled is an excellent way of getting pieces that are the exact size. You can’t make a square, miter cornered box if opposing side pieces aren’t exactly the same size.
The tablesaw also tends to leave a somewhat uneven cut due to the way it operates. Smoothing that cut out is best done with what’s called a Shooting Board. In its simplest form, a shooting board is a ramp that guides a hand plane. In this picture, I’m adjusting the fence to be a perfect 90 degrees to the ramp. Like the miter jig for the tablesaw, this shooting board was made so that the fence is adjustable. It is sized for small work and set up to use a block plane. Lie-Nielsen makes a dedicated plane for this purpose based on the original Stanley #51, here’s LINK to that plane — as you can see it’s rather pricey! Using a block plane for this serves my purposes well, here’s how each end is trimmed up:
The boxes in this series destined for Etsy store inventory are rather small so can be assembled using packing tape only. The Treble Clef box is larger so I begin the process with tape but added two band clamps to insure a good bond. The process began after the miters were trued up with the shooting board/block plane technique and the insides were sanded. The bottom is fitted as well. Picture #1 shows the box sides put in the proper sequence and the packing tape is applied to the outside of the box. After flipping the pieces over, for this box I also put tape on the inside corners to make clean up easier in case of glue squeeze out (picture #2). After applying glue to the miters, the pieces are closed around the bottom and band clamps are added (picture #3). There’s enough tension and stretch to the packing tape to close and hold the joint while the glue sets.
The final step for the construction of these boxes is to cut slots to put keys in the mitered edges. The beauty of a mitered joint is that the end grain of the wood is hidden. The downside is that having end grain to end grain as your gluing surface there isn’t a lot of strength. To compensate for that, a slot is cut across the corner. This exposes the long grain of the wood so by gluing in a key of long grain wood the corner is now reinforced. Usually this key is of a contrasting wood which adds a decorative touch to the box. This process is accomplished with the tablesaw jig shown in this picture. You can see the cut already made on the box.
The remaining boxes need to have the lids fitted into them but we’ve recently had some massive monsoons here in the desert. Where the humidity level in my shop is usually less than 10% it’s not closer to 100%. Not a good time to fit sliding lids as the wood will no doubt shrink once the relative humidity stabilizes. The carving of the treble clef on the box lid is almost complete so that will probably be the subject of the next blog.