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:
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:
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.
One of the best things about this project is this:
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.
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:
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.
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):
And brought out the dovetail saw:
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:
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:
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:
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 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.
And here it is after finishing and adding the dividers and tray and hinges:
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.
Thanks for looking and I hope you enjoyed it. If anyone has any comments or critiques I’d be pleased to hear them.
-- Alberta, Canada