the box #2: next step

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Blog entry by kolwdwrkr posted 09-07-2008 10:24 PM 1074 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: the box part 1 Part 2 of the box series Part 3: the top »

The maple was outstanding! It wasn’t brilliant like a billet blank, but it was mine. And that made it near priceless. I pulled it out of the stack of lumber and scraped it a little. Took a damp rag and wiped it….brilliant! The figure stood out and begged me to make something with it. I took it to my miter saw, shortened it in length, and stacked it next to the jointer. Everyone knows as well as I do that when you look forward to making a project something happens that takes you away from it. By the time I was ready to proceed I had to leave. The lights went off and the door was locked. Hanging my head bummed I made my way to the truck, looked back once, and drove off. The project would wait. A few days later I finally found some free time. I hooked up the dust collector to the jointer and away I went. Pushing figured maple through the jointer is risky business. It checks here and checks there. Rotating the piece only helps a little. I just needed a straight edge on the pieces, and after that I would run them through the saw. I normally don’t need to cut the jointed edge. In this case I did. The figure wouldn’t cut good, and apparently my blades aren’t sharp enough. It makes a guy grumpy when things don’t go right, but I managed to move on without crying. LOL. Sanding out the saw marks isn’t to bad anyhow, and as long as they were straight and square I was tickled. Now to cut them to length. I used a miter gauge and the table saw for this. I added a sacrificial fence to the gauge for added length, and so that I could clamp stops to it. It sure would have been nice to have an Incra miter gauge that has the stops. But, I’m broke and they won’t give it to me. I guess that will have to wait for another time in my life. Cutting the parts was easy. The stops made sure the pieces were accurately cut to the same length. I was on my way. The next step was to run my grooves for the bottom. To be educational, and I’m sure this story is both educational and entertianing (at least I hope), grooves run with the grain of the material, dadoes run against. I prefer to run my grooves up from the bottom some 3/8 of an inch or so. I have never been to fond of rabbitted grooves. I guess that’s because they never seem to be completely flush with the bottom for some reason, and when they are the bottom never sits in tight to the parts leaving gaps. It’s the bottom of the box!! I realize this, but if I turn it over at some point to move it from here to there I will see that gap. I won’t be happy.
After running my grooves I cut my bottom, dry fitted them all together and prepaired myself for the big glue up. I’d be using titebond ll for this project, as I do for all my projects. Some may wonder why I use titebond ll instead of the original. The box won’t be subjected to the elements or anything. Well, the story is that we ran into a phase where we were doing a lot of bathrooms and I like to use it for them. Just incase the moisture from the shower causes problems or whatever. It became habit to buy that glue, and I can’t afford titebond lll. I suppose none of that matters, I just thought I’d tell you anyway. Besides that, I’m writing a book here, not a story. Sheesh. LOL. I had purchased a few band clamps for gluing up frames and boxes, so this box would be assembled using them as well. I put glue on all the joints, wrapped the bands around the box and tightened them up. There it was. The basic box.
While the box dried I started making the jig for the joinery. I would be using dovetailed key miters for this particular project. I like slotted keyed miters and dovetailed key miters, but this box is pretty tall so I thought the dovetailed key miters would be more efficient. The jig I made would be able to slide in the track on my router table, as well as hold the box at a 45 degree angle to the table. I installed the dovetail bit I was using into the router table and adjusted it’s height. To make my jig I just used mdf. I cut some 45 degree angles on the ends of a few of the pieces. These would hold my box. I attached them with pocket screws to an up right piece that would be running in the track. Once I had my jig assembled I ran it over the bit. I was now set up.
I had my distance set up on the jig for the top joinery only, so I ran those first. For the bottom joinery I had to shim it out from the jig. This is because my base moulding would be rabitted onto the box itself 1/4” and I wanted the top and bottom joinery details to be equal distance. So I made some 1/4” shims and set back up. While running it the box moved!!! I was only holding it by hand in order to speed things up a bit. I should have clamped it. It didn’t move a lot, but one of the dovetails had to be widened a smidge. Gosh darn it, now I would have to make 2 different sized dovetail keys. Now, this isn’t noticeable to anyone mind you, but I know it happened, and I learned my lesson. I guess that is one of the wonderful things about working wood. There will be mistakes, and if you can fix it without starting over then you’re okay and you will have learned for the next project. I’ve seen, however, mistakes made that caused the creator to react by throwing or smashing the piece. I may have actually done this a time or two myself in the past, but have learned that it doesn’t solve anything. To get over that anxiety I actually put a punching bag in my shop. If anyone feels aggressive just hit the bag. I do have a little sport though. We make cabinetry and if there’s a mistake that will be harder to fix then replace I see how many times it takes to break completely when thrown up into the air and allowed to hit the floor. I won’t say that my cabinets always last longer, but for the most part it takes a few tries to make the piece dumpster size. LOL. (it’s done for fun and to enjoy the mistake, not be bummed the rest of the day) That’s a different topic, and I’m sorry for straying. To make the dovetailed key miter inserts I just set up the table saw at the angle of the dovetail bit and make one cut all the way through. I then rotate the piece, adjust the fence and make a cut about an inch. I cut the fall off piece off with a handsaw and see if the piece fits. I trim accordingly. After it fits I only cut the piec far enough to make all the pieces. To push it all the way through could prove to be dangerous, and I’m never in the mood to eat a piece of wood. I of course had to reset up for the piece I made a mistake on. But I still had stock left over and simply moved the fence a tad. I was now ready to insert my pieces. To do this I put the piece in (glued) left long, then trim it off on the band saw. This speeds it up pretty quickly. After the glue dried I trimmed it even closer on the bandsaw and then sanded them the rest of the way off.
There was the box. Complete with joinery. Now was the time for the base. This part was relatively straight forward. I ripped my stock to width then ran the rabbit along one edge. Then, staying at the table saw, I chanfered the top edge to add detail. I wanted to be pretty simple on the detail to make the marquetry a little easier. The marquetry was to run from the bottom of the foot all the way up the box. Once that was done I set back up my miter guage with a sacrificial fence and the stops and cut my pieces. At this point came the detail. My girlfriend was there with me at the shop and I decided to let her help. She sanded the box while I made a template for the base detail. I let her draw the design on the cut pieces of base and then let her cut one on the bandsaw. I was going to let her do them all, but she got called away to do something else. I finished cutting the parts and sanded them on the oscilating sander. To get into the corners were the detail hits the straight part I used a file, then sanded the rest by hand. They were ready to put todether. I again used band clamps to put this together, but I made sure to put the box in the groove to help square things up and make sure it was tight to the box. I did not glue the base to the box at this point. After that dried I glued it to the box and clamped it all tight.
The next step would be the top…............................

-- ~ Inspiring those who inspire me ~

5 comments so far

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6859 posts in 4004 days

#1 posted 09-08-2008 12:06 AM


This box is looking great!

Nice job of matching the grain, and the base details are very well designed.

The dovetailed keys look good.

I’m anxious to see the top

Good job;


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View davidtheboxmaker's profile


373 posts in 3830 days

#2 posted 09-08-2008 03:04 PM

I really like those dovetail keys. I’ve tried this but find that of the 8 cuts one (usually the last) has some breakout that spoils the box. Do you ahve any special routine or method that helps avoid this?

View kolwdwrkr's profile


2821 posts in 3615 days

#3 posted 09-08-2008 04:52 PM

David, The only way to keep blow out from happening is to have it tight to the jig. The jig itself prevents the tear out. Remember though that you can’t move the jig around. This will creat a larger opening in the jig and won’t supply efficient backing to the box. Keeping bits and blades sharp in the shop is key too, even though it’s very difficult when other people (employees) work in there and don’t care for them. I guess the only thing I can say is have a good backer supporting your box, sharp dovetail bit, and crossed fingers.

-- ~ Inspiring those who inspire me ~

View davidtheboxmaker's profile


373 posts in 3830 days

#4 posted 09-09-2008 12:46 AM

Thanks for the advice – I’ll try again.

View cabinetmaster's profile


10874 posts in 3583 days

#5 posted 09-09-2008 01:40 AM

Great looking box and very good tips. Keep up the good work.

-- Jerry--A man can never have enough tools or clamps

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