Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Making a Trinket Box

  Making Boxes- A Guest Post by
Tom Usher

I'm a carpenter and I love wood! There, I admitted it (the first step in curing a problem...). I make my living manipulating, shaping and cussing over it. I trim houses for a living, installing cabinets, doors, crown molding, baseboard and the rest of the things that turn a plain white box into a comfortable and attractive place to live. It's a persnickety way to make a living. All of my work is on display and everyone that looks at it is judging all the things I do. Every cut has to be right on the money. The material is expensive, usually hard to get quickly and generally supplied in quantities that are "just enough" to get the job done.

In other words, mistakes are very costly and something to be avoided. All that and we need to get it done NOW, too.

So, what do I like to do to relax? Play with wood in a way that is a thousand times more persnickety, more unforgiving and more cuss worthy.

At least the time constraints aren't an issue! Usually.

Years ago my brother and I bought a whole bunch of really high quality shop tools. Tablesaw, jointer, planer, bandsaw and all the other necessary implements needed to make furniture and other wooden niceties. We put together a cramped but effective little shop at our old house and built some really nice stuff. When Kathy and I moved to our current house fourteen years ago I packed up the shop, tore down the tools and put them in the basement. I intended to set it back up but never got around to it. Most of the tools that we have for the shop I also have in smaller jobsite versions so I limped along using those. They will generally suffice for my work as a trim carpenter.

I've decided to put the shop back together and in doing so I've had to reset, tune up and test out all of the tools. This little box is part of that process.

It's nothing special. Some maple, padauk (from Africa) and a mystery wood that I think comes from either Africa or South America. You see, I have a pile of old scraps that I've stored in the basement. There are a few things in there that I can't identify. The majority of the top is mystery wood, with the padauk in the middle bracketed by a thin strip of maple on each side. I sawed the mystery wood in half, ripped a couple strips of maple and a piece of padauk, glued it all up, made sure the grain was going in the right direction and clamped it together. After it dried I belt sanded it flat, squared it up and cut it to size.

The angles were cut into it using a Delta tenoning jig. The relieved section on the bottom was done with a router mounted in a router table. It creates a raised center that just fits in the box to keep the lid in place. I also used the router to make the small cut around the bottom of the box. The reason for that little cut is to create a shadow line. Details, details.

The body of the box is 1/2 inch maple, resawn from some larger scraps I found, and the little splines at the top are made from the padauk. The bottom is made from a piece of eastern red cedar from our property. I made the box using miter joints. Not my preferred method of joinery but this was just a box made to test equipment. The splines, while being a nice decorative addition, will also help to strengthen what is an otherwise inherently weak joint.

Even though this is a very simple little box it still requires accuracy levels at or better than 1/64 of an inch. See what I mean about persnickety? Building it let me see where I needed to tighten things up. It found the weak links in the system and now I'll have to address them. Blade vibration, the bandsaw needs a bit more tuning, the carpenter needs to bust out the instruction manuals and brush up - things like that. It also pointed out the very limited usefulness of my jobsite tablesaw. It's as dialed in as it can get, probably withing a couple thousandths, but is still isn't adequate, for a variety of reasons. I can't put my shop saw together yet. It's a BIG piece of equipment and I need to make room for it. The new carport is coming in a few weeks so the John Deere will move out of the garage and the saw will move in.

I'm sure that Kathy will have more about putting the shop back together in coming posts. After all, why bother going to all this trouble if it doesn't provide fodder for the blog? :) I'll try to show and explain the tools and techniques that carpenters use. And I hope to show Kathy doing some of the work, too! She always liked using the bandsaw. With the fine scrolling blade it can cut some intricate designs. And bandsaws are just about the safest saws in the shop, too. I'll explain why when we get around to seeing the quilter getting her woodworker on.

Now, I have a question for all of Kathy's readers. Any good ideas on how best to use the internet to market the things we make?


Yahoobuckaroo's Blog said...

Very nice! I love wood too, but I've never been very talented with the stuff.

I think your mystery wood might be sapele. It's a lot like mahogany, and it can also be wider grained like that too.

Patricia @ 9th and Denver said...

Well..that is lovely!
you did a fantastic job. I don't know shine-ola about wood, really.
But you could market your items...a couple of places--
the obvious Ebay, or Etsy... I know there has to be other places that have sprung up for selling...
best of luck to you!

Powell River Books said...

My dad was the one who made beautiful things out of wood. I have several pieces of furniture he made for my mother and me. The best is a full size china cabinet. It's like having a piece of him with me. - Margy

Harry Flashman said...

I'm impressed with the quality of your work. I don't know much about marketing or selling things on line, but I would bet you won't have to work too hard to find buyers for your work.

Unknown said...

Nice box your mystery wood looks like canary wood