|Project by jsheaney||posted 11-16-2008 09:29 AM||1861 views||1 time favorited||13 comments|
This is a box I made for a martial arts (Aikido) dojo. The box is going to be used to hold attendance cards. These are 8×5 index cards; not the 3×5 ones. The dojo name is Zenshinkan and that is the kanji carved into the top. This was a very educational box for me.
I designed it myself, although much of the design process was really just winging it. I started by measuring the dimensions of a store bought box they already use. I decided I was going to employ my first hand cut dovetails. I modeled the basic box in Sketchup, which turned out to be a good thing. My first intuition was to make a box and cut it in half, which is a typical box making technique. But when I played with the 3D model, it became apparent that the front of the lid was going to hit the top of the index cards when it was opened and closed. It was only in playing with the model that I realized the hinges in the back have to be higher than the front edge of the lid. Centering the lid front vertically and locating the back edge a quarter way from the top causes the front edge to arc forward first as it opens. It returns to the plane of the front edge about where the top of the box is, which means it clears the box contents.
Having figured that out, I didn’t want to give up on the dovetails. That meant having a horizontal cut for at least the thickness of the front and back. I decided to connect the two lines with a graceful curve. I milled the two sides, taped them together, marked out the lines and cut them on a bandsaw. I had to borrow a friend’s bandsaw, as I don’t have one. I cleaned them up with card scrapers and sandpaper to fit.
The sides are Brazilian Cherry, which I learned recently isn’t really cherry at all. The kanji is carved into ebony, which is framed in cocobolo. That’s inlaid into ambrosia maple. The maple is framed in walnut. I was concerned about the maple expanding and blowing out the miters. My solution, which I hope works, was to mill the maple a scant 1/4” thick. It’s face glued to an oversized 1/4” birch plywood. That sits in a rabbet in the lid and the walnut is glued on top of that and to the maple. I’m hoping the ply will keep the maple in check.
My friend turned the ebony knob for the pull. I cut the groove and made the bottom of the pull. One little trick there was to cut the mating surfaces slightly wider in the back than the front. Then I could get a perfect fit by mating them together and sanding the surfaces flush. I located them on the box by first drilling two 1/16” holes in each part. Then I inserted snipped off ends of wired nails and pressed them into the front to mark the locations. I drilled matching holes in the front and then used toothpicks as dowels.
I figured it would be easier to carve the kanji on end grain, so that slab of ebony is actually three slices edge glued together. That stuff is so dense it’s almost impossible to see the glue line. I originally carved the kanji and then cut the slab down to size. Then I framed it in the cocobolo. Since glue ups suck, I had to plane the result flat again before I could inlay it, so much of the carving was lost. Then I did the inlay and it was a bit proud. After planing that down the kanji was completely erased. That meant that the new carving was the very last thing I did before apply the finish. You can bet I took my time.
The maple is spalted, so the color is natural. I bookmatched it to sort of give a landscape look to it, although I don’t particularly care for the growth rings. I put one coat of Danish oil on the inside and two on the outside. The maple just sucked that up like a sponge and the surface didn’t have a nice sheen at all, so I put on another couple of coats of wipe on poly. I had never done that before, so that was really nerve wracking. There were a couple of streaks on the front that I thought would drive me insane because of the pull being there. But I was able to clean it up with a combination of the 8000 grit paper, steel wool and a lot of buffing.
-- Disappointment is an empty box full of expectation.