|Project by ChuckH||posted 01-20-2014 09:09 PM||3485 views||2 times favorited||7 comments|
A friend of mine has a copy of Battlestar Galactica that is exploding the box at the seams because it has three or four expansions crammed in – two boxes had already disintegrated. We play a lot and I wanted to make a box that would hold all the pieces and be sturdy and attractive.
I borrowed his game for a weekend so I could “play it with some other friends” and took out and measured all components. I designed the box in sketchup, adding a little bit extra to dimensions for wiggle room. As a tribute to the Battlestar universe I considered squaring off the box corners (it’s a running joke with us that you can tell it’s the future because their paper doesn’t have corners) but thought it would make the joint too weak. More on that later.
The box is designed at 1/2” thick for the sides, 1/4” for the top and bottom. The card organizer is 1/8”. I had no idea what thicknesses would be sturdy or not so I just guesstimated.
I was stunned when I saw a video detailing box construction with the box constructed whole, and the lid then cut off. Then I saw another video that gave the box a built in lip – by putting a groove on the inside, then cutting an offset groove around the top to meet it at the corner. I decided to attempt this.
I planned on constructing the box out of cherry with maple splines but I could not lay my hands on any maple. I used mahogany instead. The cherry I used was from woodworkers source – 4/4 S2S with a straight rip edge. I think I’ll save the few cents the rip edge cost in the future, as I ended up jointing it anyway. The mahogany came from a local lumber provider and was 4/4 rough.
I started with the box carcass, 1/2” thick. The cherry was close to 3/4 from the S2S, and not flat enough for my satisfaction so I jointed the wide face flat, then used the thickness planer it down to 1/2” thick. While it was still one board I put three grooves in – one at top and bottom where the top and bottom will fit in, and a third about 1/4” down from the top to be the inside cut for the box lid. Then I cut the miters in and moved on to the top and bottom.
The widest cherry boards I had were about 7 inches – too wide for me to joint on my 6” jointer, but I only needed to span about 11” anyway. I ripped them down to about 6” before starting the resaw. I resawed the 3/4” material down to two boards that could be book matched and planed to 1/4”. I simply edge glued these, because the material was too thin for any other type of joint that I could think of. I was not too worried as the edge would be rabbeted which would aid in keeping the boards together and aligned after assembly. Once the glue up was done I put that 1/8” rabbet 1/8” deep around both top and bottom.
I had to trim the top and bottom a little as I ended up with a box that was about 1/16 wider than it was deep, however it was still square all around. I put the top and bottom in and glued it up.
After the glue up I saw that my miters were not quite perfect. They gapped a little at the outsides, so I diverged from my careful planning. I made a makeshift jig in order to spline the miter joints vertically. As you’d expect from a makeshift jig, diverging from plans, etc. things went wrong and two of the grooves I cut were off center. I panicked.
Then I did some measuring and decided that I could cut the corners off at a diagonal and still have 1/4” of spline material. I cut and inserted the splines, trimmed them, sanded them down, and then ran it through the table saw with the miter guide to trim all corners at 45 degrees. This worked out marvelously, as it now looks like a homage to the style of Battlestar Galactica. More sanding.
I applied the Battlestar logo by printing a reversed image on parchment paper with an inkjet printer. I had to very carefully trim the sheet to 8 1/2×11 and then remove all the curl from it. Even so, I got some smudges. The transfer is done by laying the sheet VERY carefully down on the wood, then scraping a few times with a credit card. I did let the transfer paper slip a little bit, but it isn’t very noticeable.
After sanding the smudges out I started applying polyurethane. I learned a lot about putting poly on this project, and am sure I was putting it on too thick, even though I thought I was doing it thin like I had read. When they say thin, son, they mean REAL THIN. I wanted to do the outer poly before removing the lid to help control splintering.
I taped the cut line, as well as the other end of the box to keep the cut level, and made my all round cut-off-the-lid cut. It did not come off cleanly (could not find a blade with real flat top for the life of me so I was using a bevel top) and I had to finish up with a razor knife. I cleaned up the lip of the box lid and case with some small planers, sandpaper, chisels, and patience.
With the lid removed all the really nerve inducing stuff was over – there wasn’t much I could do to ruin it now. I sanded and polyurethaned the inside, but left the bottom bare, since it would be covered with felt.
For the card organizer I resawed mahogany down to 1/8” for the sides and dividers, but ran out, so I used cherry for the ends and the bottom. Then I applied felt like I did for the main box, using a very fine layer of watered down wood glue.
I only applied a clear satin polyurethane to all components. I put 4-5 coats on the box top and sides, then figured out a better system for the bottom, using much thinner coats and only putting poly on about the first 1/8” of the bristles. I did not apply poly to the box lid or case lips – instead after sanding them I applied a paste wax.
- Cherry was more difficult to resaw than the mahogany. It also seemed really prone to splintering.
- The box lid cut was neat, but not worth it in the end I think. The clasps I used to close the box would have served to align the lid as well, and it ended up being very difficult to clean up.
- THIN coat of polyurethane means THIN.
- I’m not sure the card organizer is going to hold up – it’s holding a lot of cards and the 1/8” seems to be at max capacity.