|Project by Nils||posted 02-28-2008 09:22 AM||4773 views||3 times favorited||19 comments|
As I mentioned in some earlier posts, I had asked Santa for an Incra Precision Positioning jig for Christmas. Santa came through for me, and I have finally completed my first project made with the jig. My goal was to practice creating some dovetails and otherwise learning to use the jig.
Before I could use the jig, I needed to put a router table extension onto my old Craftsman 9” table saw, and install the insert I bought almost a year ago. So I finally got that done in January.
Then I could start using my new jig.
As I said, my main goal was to create some sawdust, but I thought I might as well exercise some design sensibility. The first thing I did was come up with some dimensions that I thought would look good, remembering the “golden ratio”, or for the purposes of this box, 8” x 5”. That meant my stock should be 5” wide. And based on the dovetail router bits I had, part of a big Ryobi set, I was limited to making half-blind dovetails in 1/2” stock. Since I don’t have a planer or a working jointer (another project that has to be done eventually), I depended on Big Orange for my lumber – luckily they had 1/2×5 1/2” red oak lumber, and that’s what I used for the sides. The top and bottom are 3/4” stock, also 5 1/2” wide.
The bottom is joined to the sides with a simple rabbet, and I made a small chamfer around the edge to give it a bit of decoration. The lid is rabbeted to fit into the opening of the sides.
Since I was already thinking about making the box look reasonably nice, even though it was just for practice, I wanted to make good handle for the lid. My grab bag of pen blanks from Woodcraft happened to have a piece of purpleheart that was just not the right size for a pen. But it would be great as a handle. I was imagining a sinuous shape, something like a breaking wave, that would contrast nicely with the very plain and square lines of the box itself. I traced out my ideas onto the purpleheart, then used the bandsaw to cut it roughly to shape.
As I started in with the rasp to finalize the shape, I realized I really hadn’t cut off enough, and went back to the bandsaw. I did a lot of the overall shaping with a block plane as well. (When my wife first saw the handle, she said it looked like something the dog left – happily, she liked it when it was finished.)
The finish is two coats of clear water-based polyurethane on the purpleheart handle, with “Walnut” Danish oil followed by amber shellac on the box itself.
I definitely learned a lot in this first project. Probably the most important thing was how critical the dimensions of the stock is. Especially the width of the stock, especially when using an Incra jig for the joinery. Because of the way you cut the joints, you’re always working from the same side of the stock, which means that after making four joints, you have multiplied any dimension problem by four. I believe stock varied by between 1/64” and 1/32” in width along its length, necessitating some serious sanding to get the side assembly to lie flat on top and bottom.
-- Nils Davis, Menlo Park, CA