Seems as if I’ve been quite busy in the shop with commissioned projects which is a good thing but …. I keep telling myself that the Etsy Store needs to have more inventory for the hopefully good Christmas gift season. I’ve been working on this Black Limba box off and on and finally finished it. Love the character, grain, and coloration of this piece. If you’ve ever worked this wood you know it’s fairly easy to work with sharp hand tools which is how I really like to create these projects. As usual, the size of the board pretty much determines the size of the box I’ll make and the piece I had gave me a box that is 3 1/2″ tall by 5 1/4″ wide and 12″ long. The thickness of this box is 5/8″.
Once the pieces were milled to the needed size the first step was cutting a rabbet on the ends of the front and back piece. When making boxes or drawers I utilize the old Stanley 14o trick which is great fun to create with my recently purchased Veritas skew rabbet plane. If you haven’t seen it, in this BLOG I demonstrated it and also made a short YouTube video. Once that step is complete it’s time to clamp two boards together to cut the tails on both sides at one time. Since this box will have a lift off lid there is only one groove cut for the bottom. I find that cutting this first (with a small plow plane) helps to keep the pieces organized. The pin boards were cut in the usual manner, in this instance they are the short sides for the box. You can see the difference in them before and after trimming with a low angle block plane. Love the grain and coloration of this wood — Agree?
Once the box was assembled and the dovetails planed smooth it was time to create the lid. Again, this started out by cutting the rabbet with the skew rabbet plane from Veritas. This was followed by planing an angle on all edges of the lid with a low angle plane by Lie-Nielsen, similar to making a raised panel for a door. Remember to cut across the grain first so that your final cuts with the grain take care of the inevitable tear out. When cutting with the grain it’s more important to plane until a line is formed that goes from the center of the lid to the outer corner rather than trying to cut to any penciled in line.
The final hand work on this box was to mortise in the handle. Since I only have a 1/4″ mortise chisel (but Christmas is coming!) that’s what I use for lids. After selecting a cut off piece from the box the tenon is roughed out on the tablesaw with a rip blade, usually this piece of wood is too small for hand planing so it’ll be cut slightly oversized and fine tuned by pulling the piece of wood over a rabbet block plane.
The finish used on this box was the same I used on those recently completed sliding doors. That was Osmo PolyX which has all of the characteristics of a hand rubbed oil finish without the smells or environmental concerns. The way I used it was to apply one coat, let it penetrate for 15-20 minutes or so and then wipe completely dry. The next day an additional coat was wet sanded in with 320 wet/dry paper and again wiped completely dry. This yielded a super smooth finish without the lingering turpentine odor of my 3 part finish. I’ve mentioned many times how formulation of Watco and other finishes I’ve used for 40+ years have changed to meet EPA standards, their performance just isn’t the same. The only negative I can think of with the Osmo product is that it darkened the wood more than I’d like. They do have another product called Top Oil which I may experiment with next. Well, let me get this published, the next step is adding it to the Etsy store!