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Abject Failure - How NOT to make a box

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Project by Jerry posted 124 days ago 2131 views 3 times favorited 40 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This was going to be a hand-dovetailed Maple and Spanish Cedar humidor for my brother in law. Everything went swimmingly until I had to part the lid from the bottom. At that point in time, I still had not refined many of the processes going into this. The first test humidor I made, I was able to part the lid with a miniature saw blade on the drill press, but that was hemlock, not maple, and the saw overheated and the arbor bent when I tried to use it in maple. For days I tried to fix the parted surfaces with a variety of methods. I got closest to fixing it with my hand tools, but not all the way there, and by the time I got close, the box and lid were far too shallow for a humidor, not to mention all of the other mistakes I made, which I will now enumerate for the benefit of anyone out there that can profit by my mistakes.

1) This picture just shows an overview of the box, doesn’t look too bad from a distance, and the wood on the bottom looks really nice, but it was my first mistake, the grain in this configuration is very unstable, and expanded enough to buckle and part the glue joint on the bottom, the grain on the TOP, however, had no such issues.

2) In the top half of this picture you can see gouges that I was not able to get out unless I wanted to sand until the cows come home, this was caused by not having a dedicated clean surface for moving the box around on while working on it. The bottom half of the picture shows a split in the top that was repaired after I had to rip the top off the sides of the lid when I ruined the sides. I later glued this top back on the remainder of the box and parted it a second time, but still with disastrous results because I did not have a good saw blade, and I did not have a high enough fence to control the cut.

3) The top picture shows a repair that failed on one of my dovetails because of all the stress I put the box through trying to fix it. This dovetail got away from me when I failed to saw on the waste side of the line, but rather sawed on the keep side. The bottom picture shows how my attempt to cover up my terrible rabbet joints with a hemlock liner failed abjectly. I had previously intended on putting brass pins on all four sides of the box for accents, but in driving them into the hemlock bottom liner, they made it bow upwards, I have no idea how, since I drilled for it. This development made it unreasonable to pursue finishing the liner, and since it’s pinned AND glued, it can’t be removed with destroying it.

4) These are the hinkiest hinges I’ve ever had the displeasure to work with. Maybe when I become super woodworker, but for now, I’ll not be using these again any time soon. If you don’t drill for the screws, they will twist in half when you try to screw them in, but you can’t drill for them without taking some of the hinge off too. The hinges are weak, and the recommended clearances on the instruction sheet are wrong wrong wrong.

5) Clearly showing my failed attempts to get the edges flat. I’m not sure it can be done if you get a bad part, well, at least I can’t do it yet…

6) So I guess I’ll just store some of my hand planes in it, sigh…

-- I have always wished that my computer would be as easy to use as my telephone. My wish has come true. I no longer know how to use my telephone.





40 comments so far

View TerryDowning's profile

TerryDowning

999 posts in 720 days


#1 posted 124 days ago

Not an abject failure. If it were not a box and a stack of kindling then perhaps.

It’s still a box that will see much use and you learned a heck of a lot in the process. Good choice to use as a shop box as it will serve as a reminder of lessons learned.

So, NOT a failure an opportunity to improve your skills. This is how we learn. Its also an opportunity for more shop time!

The finish is very nice BTW.

Keep up the good work.

-- - Terry

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

112000 posts in 2179 days


#2 posted 124 days ago

Like Terry said it’s a learning experience. The best Technique I’ve found for cutting the lid off a box is to run each side through the table saw but leave about a 1/32 of wood you don’t cut ,after you have cut all 4 sides then you just cut the top off using a utitlity knife ,sand the edge a little and your home free.

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

View Jerry's profile

Jerry

507 posts in 250 days


#3 posted 124 days ago

a1Jim, I am having a problem when the box exits the back side of the saw blade. If I had a proper table saw, things might be better, but the table on my Shopsmith is so short that I can’t keep the whole box against the fence when the long sides exit the back side of the table saw and I don’t seem to be able to control it well enough to prevent it from rotating one way or the other when it gets that far through.

The other problem is logistics, the Shopsmith table is far too high to easily control the box when parting it.

The THIRD problem I had was a really crappy blade, but that’s been fixed now. I’ve also built a crosscut sled since this happened, and I’m hoping I can use that to some good effect when I part the lid on my next box.

As far as leaving the wood and finishing the cut by hand, I have been doing that, and it’s very good advice, but unfortunately by the time I got to that step, I had already eaten away the corners by a bad exit.

Any other advice you can give me concerning this would be greatly appreciated, because, as you probably know, after working on something and getting it almost finished, and then ruining it, it’s a pretty sad day.

-- I have always wished that my computer would be as easy to use as my telephone. My wish has come true. I no longer know how to use my telephone.

View Jerry's profile

Jerry

507 posts in 250 days


#4 posted 124 days ago

Terry, thanks for the compliment on the finish, at least I got that right :-)

-- I have always wished that my computer would be as easy to use as my telephone. My wish has come true. I no longer know how to use my telephone.

View gfadvm's profile

gfadvm

10593 posts in 1292 days


#5 posted 124 days ago

Jerry, We have all had these experiences so don’t feel like the Lone Ranger. Parting the lid and installing the hinges is always the most stressful part because you already have so much time and effort invested.

I now part all my lids with the bandsaw using my best blade, use nothing but shop made wooden hinges, and made a flattening board by covering a big piece of MDF with100 grit paper.

It looks great except for the flaws you pointed out.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View The Box Whisperer's profile

The Box Whisperer

520 posts in 673 days


#6 posted 124 days ago

Jerry the box itself looks nice. You may have made some mistakes, but I doubt youll make the same ones again. Your dovetails look tight too bud. Keep it up!

-- "despite you best efforts and your confidence that your smarter and faster than a saw blade at 10k rpm…. your not …." - Charles Neil

View Jerry's profile

Jerry

507 posts in 250 days


#7 posted 124 days ago

RE gfadvm: That sandpaper covered MDF is a great idea. I was kind of pondering doing something like that on a piece of reference granite I have laying around, but the MDF sounds MUCH easier to deal with. Is it very difficult to keep the box level while sanding the edges? I might still be able to fix this thing somewhat.

-- I have always wished that my computer would be as easy to use as my telephone. My wish has come true. I no longer know how to use my telephone.

View Jerry's profile

Jerry

507 posts in 250 days


#8 posted 124 days ago

RE Box Whisperer: Thanks for your kind words my friend, it helps a lot.

-- I have always wished that my computer would be as easy to use as my telephone. My wish has come true. I no longer know how to use my telephone.

View Mean_Dean's profile

Mean_Dean

1263 posts in 1750 days


#9 posted 124 days ago

Actually, until you pointed them out, I didn’t really see the mistakes. Just chalk this one up to a learning experience. Learn what you can from it, and move on. You seem to be on the right track!

-- Dean

View pinebox's profile

pinebox

29 posts in 571 days


#10 posted 124 days ago

Your box looks better than my first ten boxes. You’ve done the right thing though. Turn it into a box for your tools and after a while it becomes an old friend showing you how much you’ve improved.

View waho6o9's profile

waho6o9

4752 posts in 1179 days


#11 posted 124 days ago

It’s a functioning box so it’s far from a failure, keep doing

the good work Jerry!

A couple of enhancements adds character. ;)

View bit101's profile

bit101

84 posts in 479 days


#12 posted 124 days ago

That’s a shame, nice finish. Only one thing to do… start the next box!

View gfadvm's profile

gfadvm

10593 posts in 1292 days


#13 posted 124 days ago

Jerry, My flattening board is 3 feet long and 16 inches wide. Just put the box on the board and rub til it’s flat! Helps to clamp your board to the bench!
You can get a big piece of sanding belt like mine from Industrial Abrasives, Klingspor, etc. Use a rubber “eraser” to keep it clean and it will last for years before you need to replace the paper.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Boxguy's profile

Boxguy

1410 posts in 870 days


#14 posted 124 days ago

Jerry, nice finish. Good concepts. Tape the exiting area to help prevent blow out from your blade. Extend your top by adding a longer piece of 1/4 or 1/2 inch ply on top of your table. Clamp it on. Plan for where you will need to set the fence. Here is my method for cutting off tops and adding hinges. We have all had this happen on box projects. Keep boxing and keep posting.

-- Big Al in IN

View Jerry's profile

Jerry

507 posts in 250 days


#15 posted 124 days ago

RE gfadvm: Thank you very much for that information, 3 feet would just about do it!

-- I have always wished that my computer would be as easy to use as my telephone. My wish has come true. I no longer know how to use my telephone.

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