Kind of a sad topic, but so it is. A good friend of ours died a couple of months ago and her husband commissioned me to make some cedar boxes for her and her sister. The sister died 2 years before, also from breast cancer. They were both still in their 50s.
He provided the wood and asked for plain wooden boxes. Humph- I don’t DO plain, so I figured I’d do what I wanted and just charge him for plain boxes.
These are the pieces of 1’ x 1” boards after I planed, sawed them, and then squared them up.
One of the reason’s I was particularly pleased to tackle this project is because it uses the table saw- not the band saw with which I am so comfortable. I’m going too be teaching a woodworking basics class in Florida in a couple of months so I needed a refresher on using the tools. Also, I quickly decided to use the box joint jig I bought 10 years ago and never used. I like the look of the extended fingers, so I will do that. If I change my mind I can always cut/sand them off.
The first joint was a bit tight- you cannot get these apart . . . and there is no glue.
So I learned how to adjust the jig after 2-3 more trials and got it just right. It is the Woodsmith jig and required a bit of assembly, but I think it is a swell tool and I’m looking forward to using it again- now that I know how.
Here are the boxes during a dry fitting.
I read this tip about using painters’ tape to make clean-up easier and it worked a charm. I squeezed glue into the open joints just like this and then closed up the 3 sides with the 4th not glued in place but just as a spacer. Checked for square and then let the glue dry. Then I could do the other 2 corners with assurance that the boxes would be square. And they were.
Got clamps! Thank goodness (and foresight) that I have enough clamps for a job like this. btw- difference in color of wood due to flash or not. The wood is aromatic cedar and is a rich red color.
There were a lot of defects in the boards so I had to cut around a lot to get usable wood. I just barely managed to get enough wood to make each top and bottom out of just 2 pieces of wood. Here is some more clamping. I love my clamps.
After some very careful measurements and a few passes with the dado blades to rabbet the lids I have fairly tight boxes.
I drilled holes for the 8 brass screws that will hold down each lid, and then I designed each lid to reflect the interests of the women. Wood burned the designs and then colored them with artist acrylic paints.
Then I applied just one coat of General Finishes Arm-R-Seal, my favorite finish.
Doesn’t that look pretty! It all sank it rather nicely, and I decided that more coats would probably look blotchy, so I left well enough alone.
These are the finished boxes.
In a couple of weeks they will be buried, but I could not have done them with less finesse. They will be viewed for 2 hours and then never again. I don’t care. It doesn’t matter.
Oh, one more thing I think you would be interested in- haggling over the price. Note: we have known this couple for 25+ years, on and off. We are sorta friends. On and off. The customer insisted I charge him a going rate, so I told him (all in emails) that I refused payment for the wife and friend, but I would accept $100 for the box for the sister. I never met the sister. I spent the greater part of 3 weeks on the project, but that was mostly due to my incompetence- and I don’t charge for that.
Well, he wrote back that he expected to pay $1,000 and wanted no argument from me.
I wrote back that if he insisted then I could go as high as $250 and not feel guilty.
He said that was too steep for him and that $900 was his limit- and to stop arguing!
Well, I said that my final offer was $440- splitting the difference.
So, I haven’t received the check yet and I don’t know what it will be, but it doesn’t much matter. I will be there for the ceremony on their property with friends and colleagues and I am satisfied that I did as good a job as I could and I’m proud of my boxes. No matter what I’m paid.
-- "So much wood. . .so little time!" www.woodworks-by-donna.com