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Hand Tool Project - Jewelry Box

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Blog entry by Kerry posted 09-05-2008 06:52 PM 12744 reads 14 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Several months ago on another forum, I posted a challenge to build a project entirely with hand tools. After several months went by I finally got around to starting on my own project, a jewelry box, and thought I would post it here as well in case anyone was interested.

First step was to try sawing one of the chunks into 7/16 boards for the sides. I had picked up an old Diston rip saw a couple of years ago and now was the time to try it out. I clamped the board in my vice and had at it, but in short order I realized it was time I tried my hand at sharpening a saw. On my last trip to LV I had picked up a file, but lacking a saw vice I had to clamp the blade between a couple of boards in my bench vice. I jointed it, and then had at it with the file. Things went OK at first, then went a little awry, but not too horrible. When I picked up the saw at the garage sale I also grabbed a saw set. I had no idea how much set to add, but I figured I’d leave the saw set adjusted as it was and give that a try. After my first attempt at sharpening it was time to try cutting the boards again. Wow, much faster now, although the saw marks were pretty bad. You can see in this photo that the kerf is very wide:
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I sawed from the direction shown in the photo, then reversed the piece in the clamp to start in from the other end. After cutting off each slab I jointed the cut face of the thick board before cutting the next one off. After about 20 minutes I had this:
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I then flattened one side of each board, then thicknessed one to 7/16”. I used that one as a reference when I thicknessed the others.
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I marked out the lengths of the long and short sides of the box and cut the ends square, then shot them:
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After jointing one edge on each board, I marked the other and jointed it:
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So at the end of a couple of hours, here’s what I had this:
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Man, a four day weekend and I hardly get time for this! I did sneak in the shop for an hour or so tonight though. Enough to shoot the mitred corners on the sides:
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I had to make a decision about construction tonight and decided to go with the mitred corners and glue a plywood bottom into grooves cut in the sides. I kind of wanted to use all real wood, but heck, I’m going to use yellow glue so not exactly 18th century anyway and so plywood shouldn’t be all that bad Besides, I didn’t really want to deviate construction-wise from other boxes I’ve made that I know hold together well.

So out came the LV small plow to cut some grooves:
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One of the best things about this project is this:
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This is the display of my airborne particle counter. These readings are just slightly higher than what I get in the rest of the house, and I didn’t have the air cleaner on either. Considering I have had a LOT of dust in the shop lately due to cutting laminate, I believe some of the reading is just from me walking around in the shop.

I had to cut pieces for the lid frame but I didn’t want to lose quite as much material to the kerf as I did using my Diston rip saw so I gave my Japanese saw a try:
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It worked very well and the kerf is about 1/3 that of the other saw. After some cutting and planing I had these:
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For veneering the bottom panel for the box I decided to try hot hide glue for the first time but didn’t have a veneer hammer so quickly whipped this together from some scraps of birch and a strip of brass I had laying around:
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And I didn’t have a glue pot but did snag this coffee warmer being thrown out from work a few months ago:
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The gluing went fairly well, but I think it would have been better if I had used plywood for a substrate instead of some hardboard. The glue just didn’t seem to ‘grab’ as it cooled as much as I thought it would. At any rate I did manage to get it glued finally.

Then it was back to sawing pieces for the base from the chunks of mahogany I had:
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After getting the bottom veneered and the sides mitered, it was time for glue up:
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Now I wanted to reinforce the mitered corners with keys. I clamped on a guide I had kicking around (just a couple of pieces of MDF that I’ve used as a guide for several things):
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And brought out the dovetail saw:
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Here’s the cuts and the slot after removing waste with a small chisel:
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I sawed some stock for the keys from a piece of hard maple I had and made a jig to plane the stock to a uniform 1/8”. Not sure how well this shows up:
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Now for the base:

Again trying to do a base in much the same way as I’ve done others, but only with hand tools. This was the most disappointing stage so far. The initial plan was to clamp two sides of the base together, then use a brace and bit to bore holes between what would become the feet, then clean that up afterwards:
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I had a LOT of trouble drilling these holes. I’d get so far and then the bit would just stop cutting. When I removed the bit I could see turnings jammed into the screw part of the bit and if I removed that and drilled some more it would cut for a little longer and then stop again. I tried sharpening the bit but that didn’t help. I’ve used this bit in other solid pieces of wood and it worked fine. I think the trouble was that no matter how tightly I clamped the two pieces together, the screw part (there’s gotta be a name for it?) would spread the two pieces apart so the screw threads wouldn’t grab and pull the bit in. I eventually got tired of this and moved on to plan B:
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The fret saw worked quite well for this and I completed all of the cuts that would define the feet. Then I used my newly sharpened $2 backsaw to cut the waste into sections that could be snapped off with a screwdriver:
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Unfortunately, the grain in the mahogany I used tended to tear once in a while rather than snap off cleanly. I cleaned the middle parts up as best I could with a chisel without removing too much wood and then scraped and rasped a bit too. These bottom sections are pretty rough looking (I’m not going to show you!) but hey, it’s the bottom – no one will be allowed to lift this box up except me :-)

Now for the lid:

I decided to make a lid with a floating panel in a frame with bridle joints at the corners. After carefully marking out the cut lines it was time once again to make use of Ed’s great dovetail saw:
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And then my $2 backsaw followed by a chisel to remove the waste:
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Continuing the construction of the top, it was time to do the tenons:
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After a little tweaking with a shoulder plane, here was the final result:
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I used my LV small plow to start a stopped groove on the inside of each piece, then had to use a combination of saw and chisels to finish up. I found a piece of hard maple for the panel and cut and squared it up on my shooting board, before flattening and smoothing it. I used the plow to cut a groove around the edge of this board to form the tongue that would fit into the stopped groove of the frame members.

After gluing the lid together, here’s the unfinished box:
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And here it is after finishing and adding the dividers and tray and hinges:
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I used some antique cherry aniline dye on the lid panel to bring out the little bit of figure that was there, then brushed several coats of amber shellac onto the whole project. I rubbed it out afterwards using steel wool and paste wax.

And since some of the tools were from bygone days, a theme pic:
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Thanks for looking and I hope you enjoyed it. If anyone has any comments or critiques I’d be pleased to hear them.

Cheers,
Kerry

-- Alberta, Canada



13 comments so far

View Chris 's profile

Chris

1867 posts in 2710 days


#1 posted 09-05-2008 07:48 PM

Thank you for the wonderfully detailed blog; I really enjoyed stepping through your efforts. I myself have not tried to go totally hand powered but am interested in trying it. I currently perform most projects as a hybrid of hand and electric. I do love using my planes….

-- "Everything that is great and inspiring is created by the individual who labors in freedom" -- Albert Einstein

View John Gray's profile

John Gray

2370 posts in 2604 days


#2 posted 09-05-2008 08:50 PM

Great thanks.

-- Only the Shadow knows....................

View ChasHutch's profile

ChasHutch

56 posts in 2434 days


#3 posted 09-05-2008 08:59 PM

Thanks for posting this. I enjoyed reading it. It turned out great.

-- Hutch - North Dallas, Tx - Safety First

View Kerry's profile

Kerry

161 posts in 2509 days


#4 posted 09-06-2008 12:02 AM

Thanks. This is the first project I’ve attempted totaly with hand tools. It may or may not be the last, I dunno yet. It certainly confirmed two things for me:

1) that with more experience, I believe I could make projects that I would be happy with, and

2) that there are some operations where hand tools shine, and there are others where power tools shine. Using both makes the most sense for me.

Cheers,
Kerry

-- Alberta, Canada

View wadestock's profile

wadestock

24 posts in 2341 days


#5 posted 09-06-2008 02:06 AM

Great Job. I like to total hand tool approach. I think my daughter has one of these boxes in her future.

View Kerry's profile

Kerry

161 posts in 2509 days


#6 posted 09-06-2008 02:38 AM

BeechPilot – they sure are! Canadian Tire money is hard currency up here :-) Some places even take it for donations.

Thanks for the compliment.

Kerry

-- Alberta, Canada

View Eric's profile

Eric

873 posts in 2503 days


#7 posted 09-06-2008 05:09 AM

Dang dude! You put my effort to shame. I spent about 6 months doing mine entirely by hand. Sure, it was my first real woodworking project, but still. It was cool to see you go through many of the same steps I did in my project.

Well done!

-- Eric at http://adventuresinwoodworking.com

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

18615 posts in 2879 days


#8 posted 09-06-2008 01:07 PM

fantastic! Great box and wonderful blog!! Congratulations on a job well done – you must be extremely proud of this.

(Canadian Tire Money—there are some stores that will take it as “cash” as well. That’s pretty cool. Had to smile when I saw it in the picture. In my house, you can find Canadian Tire money all over the place, depending on where the purchases ended up.)

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (https://www.facebook.com/DebbiePribeleENJOConsultant)

View Kerry's profile

Kerry

161 posts in 2509 days


#9 posted 09-06-2008 09:18 PM

3fingerpat – no, the dovetail saw is from Medallion Toolworks.

Thanks once again for the nice comments.

Kerry

-- Alberta, Canada

View SawdustMill's profile

SawdustMill

58 posts in 2451 days


#10 posted 09-08-2008 05:49 PM

Wow, that’s really amazing. Those miters are awesome tight.

View newplane's profile

newplane

159 posts in 2797 days


#11 posted 04-24-2010 09:26 PM

How do you like the Jointer plane on the shooting board? Do you feel that its a heavy plane for that function?

-- Dont just dream it, get up and live it!

View bigike's profile

bigike

4033 posts in 2007 days


#12 posted 04-24-2010 09:45 PM

great posting i loved every sep of the way and that you did it in one posting too. ;)

-- Ike, Big Daddies Woodshop, http://www.icombadaniels@yahoo.com

View Kerry's profile

Kerry

161 posts in 2509 days


#13 posted 04-24-2010 10:33 PM

Newplane – That’s a Veritas BU Jack, not the jointer. It works great on a shooting board. FWIW you can’t use the Veritas jointer on a shooting board, the sides are not flat.

-- Alberta, Canada

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