About 3 years ago my wife and I were on vacation in Arkansas. I appropriated a slab of Sassafras from a woodworker that I had befriended. We were actually in a State Park that had huts set up with demonstrations of the way things were done a century ago – very interesting. Anyway, I got this slab, which is about 2 feet in diameter and about 5” thick. I carried it onto the tour bus that was taking us back to our hotel – people thought that I was crazy, my wife was way ahead of them, she already knew I was crazy. Made it to the hotel, put it in the car and finished a great vacation.
The slab of Sassafras sat in my shop for the past 3 years – then I decided that maybe it was time to do something with it. I had never cut my own lumber from a slab, but heck I’ve got a bandsaw and should be able to do that. I actually was very satisfied with that portion of the project – the wood came off the slab very nicely. I did all of the milling that we do getting wood ready for a project and decided to build a box that would make Don say—WOW (I had heard that he loves small boxes)........well, that’s not likely to happen – but I did learn quite a few things with the project and that should make my future projects better.
Then I glued everything up, using some playing cards as spacers to hold my gap around the floating lid (don’t know what the heck I was thinking here – but I did it The glue and cards worked perfectly – I had about an 1//8” gap around the lid – but now I realize, why, what am I going to do with this gap?
So I decide to try an epoxy called InLace= that I picked up a couple of years ago. You just mix it like any epoxy and fill the gap – let harden and then sand flush. This worked out pretty well for me. So off to the tablesaw to cut the lid from the body of the box. I used splines to reinforce the mitered corners. I thought I was using a contrasting wood (Hickory) but once the oil and shellac was applied the Hickory splines tended to blend with the Sassafras.
Time to put some hinges on this project. I picked out hinges that would have been better suited for anything but a fine box – but hey, what did I know – I’m learning here. I mortised out for the hinges, installed them then sat back wondering what I had been thinking – looked awful. Well, I’ve been dying to try to make some wooden hinges, and thanks to Doug Stowe’s video I thought that I could do it. I made my very first set of wooden hinges. Also in the Doug Stowe video was a foolproof way of mortising the hinges – using a router table – well almost foolproof you do actually pay attention to what you are doing. I cut my mortises over the mortises that I had already made for the smaller hinges – thought this would work great an “make them go away” Well the bottom of the box came out perfect, the top actually did too – only now I had 4 hinge locations mortised on the top…....what a dummy!!! So now what do I do? Easy, I’ll just go to my drum sander and sand down the hinges (all four of them) until I get a flat lid again. That worked for me, so now it’s time to mortise the lid hinges again. This time I can’t get it wrong – or can I? You bet I can. This time I mortised out the same as last time. The old (smaller) mortises are gone – BUT NOT THE SCREW HOLES from the smaller hinges. Man, what I dummy I am. Oh well, I’m going to have to live with that one.
I sanded down to 400 grit and applied a couple coats of Danish Oil. Let that dry for a few days, then sprayed several coats of Shellac on it for the final finish. I installed the wooden hinges using Titebond II. After waiting for a few hours for the glue to set – time to see if the box would actually one and close (more importantly stay closed) and Walla – the hinges worked perfectly!!!!
In spite of it’s shortcomings – I really am proud of this little box. I learned to overcome some problems and accomplished a few firsts for me – milling lumber from the tree to the project, the Splined Miters, The Wooden Hinges and The Inlace application. The big thing that I can take from this project is that I have to PAY ATTENTION to every step of the project.
-- Bill - "Suit yourself and let the rest be pleased." http://www.cajunpen.com/