A Keepsake Box for Izzy from reclaimed wood. #5: One journey comes to an end, another one begins.

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Blog entry by paratrooper34 posted 12-02-2012 07:48 PM 2168 reads 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 4: Grooves and Splines! Part 5 of A Keepsake Box for Izzy from reclaimed wood. series no next part

Well, the box is finished. It was a long road for a small box, 25cm x 20cm. Yet I am proud to say that I never used any power tools on this box; nothing but hand tools. I guess this wood saw some type of power back when it was milled in the mid 1800s as there were tooling marks on the board that looked like a big old saw blade from a mill. But no power in my shop to transform that reclaimed chestnut board into a box for my granddaughter.

Here is how it was finished up.

The first step was to glue the box up. I got it prepped by doing some final smoothing on the top and bottom and the sides. I was pretty sure I would have to smooth the sides again, but there were a couple of dings that I wanted gone and while it was disassembled was the best time to do that.

You can see on the bottom panel where the Stanley 45 depth gauge left its marks. The #3 smoother got rid of those in short work.

I then prepped the carcase for glue up. I applied masking tape to the inside corners in case there was some squeeze out issues (there weren’t as it turned out). I used packing tape to tape up the carcase to help keep it lined up when I glued it. Side note: this packing tape left adhesive residue where the clamping cauls made contact with the tape. That was a pain in the butt to remove. Anyway, once that was done, I started gluing.

I worked pretty fast while gluing and didn’t get any pics. I first applied glue to the inside of the grooves liberally and then placed the splines in on one side. I folded up the first corner and placed the top and bottom in their respective grooves. I put a spot of glue in the middle of the grooves on the end grain sides of the top and bottom just to hold them in place and that should give them room to move on the long grain sides. Once I had the whole box assembled, I applied the cauls and used some string to tighten down the box. Here is the box with all that in place.

I used the cauls because I felt that the string was going to damage the sharp mitered corners of the box. As you can see in these pictures, the cauls did their job. The string cut pretty deeply into the corners of them. And the recesses cut into the inside corners of the cauls did their job also as the box corners were protected from damage there also.

While the glue set up, I cut the strips that are installed on the inside groove to keep the lid on straight. I planed them down to thickness (I actually planed them a little too much, but they worked). Since I had to cut 45 degree miters on these, I decided it was time I made a small miter box for cutting these. Simple operation, one piece of red oak with two sides and then made the slots on my Millers Falls miter saw.

After I cut those pieces to rough size, it was time to remove the box from the clamps. The splines were cut purposely long so I could trim them to top profile with relative ease. To help conceal the tearout from cutting the spline grooves, I used some sawdust to push into the voids when the glue was still wet. Here you can see that. I used wire cutters to snip off the excess spline pieces and then used a cabinet file to rough out their shape along the profile.

Here you can see some of the adhesive residue left behind from the packing tape. I used a chisel to get most of it off then followed that up with the smoother.

With the splines trimmed down, it was now time to cut the lid off. I scribed a line with marking gauges and used my tenon saw to cut the box open.

After the box was cut open, I used a block plane to smooth off the cut edges. This required a lot of care because the corners needed to be approached with caution to avoid blowing out grain. I had just sharpened my block plane’s blade, which made that easier. I then installed the strips on the inside lip. These were cut taller than I needed so they had to be trimmed down. I used my cheapo Japanese saw for this.

The last thing to do before final smoothing and sanding was to install recesses on the sides which allow the box lid to be lifted off. I originally planned on using a small handle of some type, but decided against that as not to detract from the bookmatched top. This was a good idea I think as it adds nothing to distract the viewer from the box. I marked out where I wanted the recess and used a gouge to carve it out.

I used some sandpaper (which I hate use!) to smooth out the recess and smooth over the top profile. I then hit the sides one last time with the smoother to get rid of pencil marks and dings. The box is now ready for finish.

I usually only use BLO as a finish on my project; this box will be no different. I applied BLO and wiped it down after about 30 minutes or so. I plan on putting a coat of wax on it to finish it up. Here is the finished look.

So the box is complete. It started out as a really crappy looking piece of lumber taken from a barn built in 1859/60 that was among a bunch of other boards that were saved. It looked very bad, and would probably not have gotten a second look by most people. So from that old barn comes a box that will be a Christmas present for my granddaughter on her very first Christmas. Hopefully, the box will enjoy its new life as a place for her trinkets and treasures.

Thanks for reading my blog!

-- Mike

9 comments so far

View ksSlim's profile


1275 posts in 2885 days

#1 posted 12-02-2012 11:57 PM

Nice job! Great blog with plenty of photos for reference.

-- Sawdust and shavings are therapeutic

View paratrooper34's profile


915 posts in 2947 days

#2 posted 12-03-2012 12:47 AM

Thanks ksSlim!

-- Mike

View Mauricio's profile


7144 posts in 3147 days

#3 posted 12-03-2012 03:57 PM

Great box man. But no action shots of the #45 plowing the grooves through end grain? Bummer… ;-)

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

View chrisstef's profile


17381 posts in 3001 days

#4 posted 12-03-2012 04:11 PM

Heck of a hand tool only build PT. The box top is really a sweet looking chunk of lumber. Gives great focus to the piece.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View BTKS's profile


1986 posts in 3459 days

#5 posted 12-03-2012 05:10 PM

Great look and balance with the book match! Excellent project for a perfect reason.

-- "Man's ingenuity has outrun his intelligence" (Joseph Wood Krutch)

View paratrooper34's profile


915 posts in 2947 days

#6 posted 12-03-2012 09:34 PM

Thanks again, guys. Mauricio, sorry, I was too focused on getting it done.

-- Mike

View robscastle's profile


4968 posts in 2199 days

#7 posted 03-27-2013 09:24 PM

A very well done project.
Interesting string you have used looks like you could almost support a person with it !


Robert Brennan

-- Regards Robert

View paratrooper34's profile


915 posts in 2947 days

#8 posted 03-27-2013 10:03 PM

Thanks Robert! The string I used is affectionately known as “550 Cord”. It is used for many things in the military and one it’s primary uses is for parachutes. With a tensile strength of 550 lbs, it will support a person (well, most persons anyway).

-- Mike

View laketrout36's profile


200 posts in 2022 days

#9 posted 10-29-2013 01:22 AM

Nice looking project and thanks for all the pictures.

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