This is the fun part!
Its scary too!
The idea of taking a nice crisp box, one you have spent countless hours making, and attacking it with a tool designed for slag removal is…well…its a little disturbing. Maybe I was influenced by old Hitchcock movies more than I know.
Seriously, what I enjoy is the freedom this gives me. Everything up to this point has been tied to measurements and careful setups. This is where we can cut loose a little. But slow down Hotrod!
A little care must be used or you will wind up with a ruined box. That has happened to me more than once when I first started playing around with this concept. Just go slow and you will be fine.
I like to mount my box to a stool or a low bench to keep it from moving. This places it at a comfortable height and allows me to shape the top, front and both sides. To shape the back, I remove the box and reset it facing backwards.
( An adustable stool with a top a little smaller than the box would be perfect since you could get at the top and all four sides, and raise it as needed.!)
I simply screw it to the stool right through the bottom, about center. The hole will get covered on the inside with a liner and a tag with the name of the box, woods, etc., will be pasted over the bottom hole.
The tools needed:
First of all, get a Moaning Stool or chair or something so you will be comfortable if you mess up. If you have been a woodworker very long you no doubt have a contingency plan.
I use a 4’’ angle grinder with a flexible sanding disc. I use a 50 -80 grit disc depending on the wood. A flap sanding disc works good too but they tend to burn or gum up so I use it after the heavy work has been done with the sanding disc.
The guard was removed for the picture.
You can use a random orbit disc sander from start to finish, though it will take longer,and inhibits freedom of movement, at least to me. I like the way I can get wide sweeping strokes by using the angle grinder, because it removes material faster, I can move faster,with a more natural fluid flow.
You could also use a Dremel or a Foredom with different attachments.
Or the old fashioned tried and true tools, chisels and gouges are an option.
Even a stationary sander with a disc and belt will give nice results.
(I used the radiused edge of my stationary belt sander to do much of the shaping on the sides of the “Deco Box” I used the grinder to establish the top details though.)
I recently bought a Merlin long neck angle grinder and I like it for detail work.The chainsaw works very well for hogging out small bowls and spoons. The carbide disc last forever and is great for recontouring edges and the flap sander eases it all together. Very nice tool for light work with good control.
My wife got a hold of it and made twenty spoons in a row.
What you use will determine how much control you have and the contours you want. Obviously a small handheld disc sander will allow much more freedom and will cut a tighter pattern than a 12’’ stationary sander. Feel free to use what you have, but experiment with it first on some scrap to see what profiles you can get.
How I do it:
I always start at the top and remover the edges of the medallion and then the lid, shaping a dome.
Be careful around the hinge area and the handle. You should still have the temporary pins in so they are a reminder of where to keep an eye out.
After the top is domed I round off the corners. The rest of the shaping depends on what I want to express, how I am feeling, what kind of mood I am in or the music I am listening to. (This is one of the few times I have music on.) So, I cant really explain how to shape a box, its personal. I aim to shape in a way that looks natural, an organic flow, like driftwood has. Thats my style though and may not be yours.
Here are some pictures of how the shaping developed on this box.
Then I took a 4” random orbit sander with a 100 grit disc and smoothed it all out.
Here is a picture with just the morning light filtering through a side window. It casts the rest of the box in shadow but really brings out the shaping in the lid.
Notice how I left a ridge of wood at the hinge location.
Next is the finishing.
-- If I can do it, so can you.