LumberJocks

First box - almost all hand tools

  • Advertise with us
Project by ColonelTravis posted 02-21-2017 02:16 AM 751 views 0 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

While back was with my mom somewhere and she saw a box she liked and thought about buying it. It was about $150 and the finish on the inside had white powder all over it, like they’d sanded shellac but never bothered to get the dust out of the pores. Was kind of surprised it was for sale in such a condition. I said – don’t buy that, I’ll make a better one. However, I’d never made a box before. And I use mostly hand tools, so that was going to make it even more of a challenge because the model box wasn’t dovetailed it was mitered with splines, and I had no shooting board for wide miters.

I like the top of mine better than the one that was for sale, but (other than the finish on the inside) the craftsmanship on the one we saw was pretty darn good. However, if you can’t finish well, you’ve screwed your end result. Mine came out OK, I’m still not proficient with shellac, which is what I used for the finish. Lots of room for improvement in all other areas, too. I believe the model for mine was called a candle box, it’s about 15 inches long, 8 inches wide and 6 inches tall.

The only reason I’m posting this project is not to boast about the box, which came out not bad although it has some flaws I wish I could have overcome (live and learn), but to encourage someone who’s never done it and hesitant about it to just go ahead and do it to get an accomplishment under your belt. If you don’t have a table saw, there’s no excuse. You can still make a box.

Walnut top and sides, cherry bottom, ebony splines, shellac finish. Never worked with ebony before. Geez, what a pain that stuff can be because it’s so brittle.

Only electricity used was a bandsaw to rip the wood to approximate width. Otherwise it was bench/block/plow/router/molding planes, chisels, card scraper, hand saw and a decent amount of cursing. No blood spilled, I think that’s a first.





12 comments so far

View Combo Prof's profile

Combo Prof

3201 posts in 1111 days


#1 posted 02-21-2017 02:55 AM

So how did you cut the splines?

-- Don K, (Houghton, Michigan)

View ColonelTravis's profile

ColonelTravis

1672 posts in 1727 days


#2 posted 02-21-2017 03:27 AM

dovetail saw/chisel for the the slots. I had a stick of ebony and used the bandsaw to rip off a strip. Then used a little crosscut handsaw for each piece and planed them down to size. Since the slots were done by hand they aren’t precisely uniform in width, like you could get with a table saw or bandsaw. To the eye you can’t tell the difference between a few thousandths of an inch but you sure can when you try to shove one in there.

View Boxguy's profile

Boxguy

2459 posts in 2101 days


#3 posted 02-21-2017 05:12 AM

Travis, the wood is beautiful and you have done some nice work here. I admire your skill with hand tools. Typically a candle box has a sliding lid. I like the details you included such as the splines, molded top, and nicely inset hinges. You have a fine job on the finish. Since boxes get a lot of wear, you might consider wipe-on poly for a finish. Your mom is sure to treasure this gift. Keep boxing and keep posting.

-- Big Al in IN

View TheFridge's profile

TheFridge

8287 posts in 1319 days


#4 posted 02-21-2017 05:20 AM

Definitely an accomplishment bud. Be proud.

I love my jointer and planer too much :)

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View Ron Aylor's profile

Ron Aylor

1746 posts in 481 days


#5 posted 02-21-2017 12:30 PM

Good Job, Travis … the walnut looks awesome!

-- Ron in Lilburn, Georgia.  Knowing how to use a tool is more important than the tool in and of itself.

View Combo Prof's profile

Combo Prof

3201 posts in 1111 days


#6 posted 02-21-2017 12:30 PM

How wide are the splines. I supposed you are sawing down both sides and chiseling out the center? But that requires either making fat splines or a very thin chisel. I have made several boxes trying to included more and more hand tool operations, but have stumbled on how best to make the splines. Can a hand tool jig for spline making be designed?

-- Don K, (Houghton, Michigan)

View helluvawreck's profile

helluvawreck

29085 posts in 2700 days


#7 posted 02-21-2017 02:29 PM

You have done a very nice job on this box. Congratulations.

helluvawreck aka Charles
http://woodworkingexpo.wordpress.com

-- If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau

View ColonelTravis's profile

ColonelTravis

1672 posts in 1727 days


#8 posted 02-21-2017 04:11 PM

Thanks everyone. Boxguy, I looked at a lot of your boxes to get some assistance!

Don – used a 1/8th inch chisel for the splines, which were a bit wider than that, about 3/16. I don’t have a 3/16 inch chisel, that would have helped. The first two were annoying to do, then I figured out a way to get them done much easier and faster – saw one more time in the middle of the two cuts for the spline sides, hold the chisel at a higher angle instead of trying to chop out the waste straight across and eventually pare down the waste until it was a flat channel in there between the walls. That might not be easy to understand, sorry. Should have taken photos of the process. I’d say the most patience required for this whole thing is doing the splines.

View Dave Smith's profile

Dave Smith

33 posts in 297 days


#9 posted 02-21-2017 04:19 PM

Nicely done! Always liked working walnut by hand. Bet mom loves it.

-- Dave Smith - If our phones fall, we panic. If our friends fall, we laugh.

View david38's profile

david38

3518 posts in 2176 days


#10 posted 02-21-2017 04:52 PM

you did a good job

View Combo Prof's profile

Combo Prof

3201 posts in 1111 days


#11 posted 02-21-2017 10:33 PM


Thanks everyone. Boxguy, I looked at a lot of your boxes to get some assistance!

Don – used a 1/8th inch chisel for the splines, which were a bit wider than that, about 3/16. I don t have a 3/16 inch chisel, that would have helped. The first two were annoying to do, then I figured out a way to get them done much easier and faster – saw one more time in the middle of the two cuts for the spline sides, hold the chisel at a higher angle instead of trying to chop out the waste straight across and eventually pare down the waste until it was a flat channel in there between the walls. That might not be easy to understand, sorry. Should have taken photos of the process. I d say the most patience required for this whole thing is doing the splines.

- ColonelTravis

Yes I would think the splines would be the most difficult. I will try it later in March. I think I should build a shooting board for miters first.

-- Don K, (Houghton, Michigan)

View Kelster58's profile

Kelster58

298 posts in 373 days


#12 posted 02-22-2017 01:23 AM

Looks GREAT. All hand tools. What an accomplishment !!

-- K. Stone “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” ― Benjamin Franklin

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

HomeRefurbers.com