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back to the box #1: little cherry box

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Blog entry by scottb posted 03-12-2007 03:50 AM 2250 reads 0 times favorited 27 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of back to the box series Part 2: poplar box »

Apart from reading just about every magazine that hit the newsstands since we bought our house several years back, I’m basically a self-taught woodworker. I’ve only taken two classes. One a 5-week lathe class (spindle turning), the other a ten-week intro class – where I designed and built my pub table. (The first project I posted here). I finished those classes a little over a year ago, and my wife and I agreed that I could continue to take classes as time and budget allowed. Consequently, I haven’t. Partially due to the fact that there aren’t any places offering classes less than an hours drive (oneway).

I’ve tried to stick to my projects list, and try to fit in regular time at the lathe to keep my skills sharp and try to learn new things. As you can no doubt imagine, not having a structured environment and a dedicated block of time is not conducive to such things.

A couple weekends ago, I stumbled across Box by Box by Jim Stack. In this book, the author essentially teaches woodworking through a series of 21 projects increasing in challenge and scope.

Following the premise that just about everything is a box (your house, your desk, your TV), I think this will be a nice, “get back to basics” and class all rolled into one. Something I’ll be able to translate into my other projects. Yes, this is adding to my List, but I think I’ll end up ahead of where I would have been had I kept plugging along doing things randomly.

The first is a small and simple box with butt joinery. The final is veneered chest for your finest silverware. In between there’s a bandsaw box, a shaker style box, a locking safe (which really appeals to me), and even a 20 sided one.

I really liked the layout of this book. Step by step pictures, a little bit of editorial, illustrations, and a cut list. I was impressed that most of these can be built with a modest set of tools (or less). I came home thinking that I’d try to complete these 21 boxes in 21 weeks, but as the projects increase in scope I may not be able to stick to that schedule… but I’m going to do the best I can.

Yesterday I started the first one, and apart from waiting for glue to dry, this box took no more than a few hours. While the box is complete, I have yet to finish it – that process may take longer than all the construction did! If I had the lumber ready, I could have jumped right onto the second project, so we’ll see how the timing goes.

Having completed the first project, I found a couple minor issues with the book, but none to make it worth not recommending. There is a list of tools needed. Most are optional, at least at first. Part of why I bought the book was because I already had most, if not all the tools listed in each project. For the first project, random orbit or stationary sanders are listed as optional, planes are optional, only a hand saw with a miterbox and sandpaper is required. However, for some of the later projects a router is neccessary, but never seems to be mentioned anywhere except in the step by step. It’s obvious in the pictures… an oversight in the proofing process? Probably.

The other thing is that there is a cut list, but never a mention of how much lumber you actually need. Frustrating for a first timer I’d say (go down to the lumberyard and ask for some yellow pine. How much? I dunno, the book doesn’t say.) Granted I’d be one to doublecheck a cut list against the bill of materials anyway. I can also figure out some ways to get around not having a router for the time being. Being my own “teacher” in this “class” I can certainly do projects out of order!

As I mentioned, I do think the book is laid out very well, and I also like that it has a spiral binding (cleverly disquised as a hardcover book) so it lies flat on the workbench. The author intends this book for all levels of woodworkers, and I think it would appeal to all but the most green (who might need a little more hand-holding), and the master level furniture makers who can make a 20 sided box half asleep.

The first project:

The first box is a small cherry box made from 1/4 inch stock. I thought I’d have to make my own, perhaps resaw some oak or maple instead, or use some 1/4” aspen I already had on hand – so I could get started right away.

Fortunately for this project, I remembered already buying some 1/4 inch cherry (for another project (a much more complex box) I still haven’t got around to making. So with that in hand I headed on down to the shop, cut up the pieces for a 5” x 1 1/2” x 3” box. (I told you it was small). I had 4 pieces approx 5×12, and I only needed slightly more than one of them… Something neat, and challenging about making a box of such little material! Glue up was a pain, ended up using tape for clamping, which worked much better than any clamps I had available.

I used my disc sander attachment for my shopsmith to square up the sides, and when I tried fitting the lid, it rocked a bit. Turns out I had 1/32 high spots, which surprisingly only took a little bit of sanding to get everything all nice and even. The only other challenge was getting the glue out of the corners inside the box. I did the best I could during clamp up, and with a chisel after. After assembly, there were two small areas where the sides didn’t meet tightly. A tiny bit of glue and a little sanding fixed that problem perfectly. I had to do something. Such a small mistake looms large on such a tiny piece.

Once I finish the box, I’ll add some new pictures, with something to help give a sense of scale.

Since this ended up taking way less time than I thought it would, I managed to get two other projects done, and off my list! Well, nearly. But that’s another blog.

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- http://blanchardcreative.etsy.com -- http://snbcreative.wordpress.com/



27 comments so far

View Karson's profile

Karson

35035 posts in 3865 days


#1 posted 03-12-2007 05:32 AM

Very nice Scott

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia karsonwm@gmail.com †

View WayneC's profile

WayneC

12642 posts in 3561 days


#2 posted 03-12-2007 05:44 AM

Excellent. Another project to put on my to do someday list.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View David's profile

David

1970 posts in 3603 days


#3 posted 03-12-2007 05:45 AM

Nice work Scott! I like the cherry and clean lines. Looks like this might be a good book to add to my list.

-- http://foldingrule.blogspot.com

View scottb's profile

scottb

3648 posts in 3791 days


#4 posted 03-12-2007 05:48 AM

Yeah, sorry about that… I signed myself up for 21 more for the list…. One down! but I’ll consider it a “body of work” so as to not impact The List (yes with capital letters) too greatly, at least visually. :)

Tomorrow, I’ll be updating said list. Just about have 2 items crossed off! (just a quick bip out to the HD for less than $1 worth of hardware!)

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- http://blanchardcreative.etsy.com -- http://snbcreative.wordpress.com/

View scottb's profile

scottb

3648 posts in 3791 days


#5 posted 03-12-2007 05:54 AM

Oh, we were posting at the same time David…

Yeah I like the book. I’m happy I stumbed across it. Most of the other ones I was looking at at the time had some nice projects with little in the “how-to”. Or had about 1 project in 10 that appealed.

I think the locking box was what sealed the deal, as it gave me some good insights into something I’ve been trying to work out for about 1 year now (off/on in my head). Gave me an idea of how to simplify it. I’ll either swap that out for the project in the book, or will make that #22! (formerly #2 in my puzzle box series!) I’m surprised nobody has P.M.’d me with the answer to the first one yet.

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- http://blanchardcreative.etsy.com -- http://snbcreative.wordpress.com/

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 3764 days


#6 posted 03-12-2007 06:16 AM

By the time you get all of them boxes made, you should be a master box builder, keep it up

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN. http://www.woodcarvingillustrated.com/gallery/member.php?uid=3627&protype=1

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

18615 posts in 3625 days


#7 posted 03-12-2007 01:38 PM

might have to find this book—and actually make myself a box!!!

isn’t this little box beautiful??? !!! I love it.
and am looking forward to the progress

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (https://www.facebook.com/DebbiePribeleENJOConsultant)

View oscorner's profile

oscorner

4564 posts in 3775 days


#8 posted 03-12-2007 04:28 PM

I wonder what you are going to be giving as Christmas presents this year? I can’t hardly wait to see all 22 finished, but I will.

-- Jesus is Lord!

View RobS's profile

RobS

1334 posts in 3771 days


#9 posted 03-12-2007 04:32 PM

A professional boxer in my family…how cool is that?! Go Rocky 21!

-- Rob (A) Waxahachie,TX

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 3779 days


#10 posted 03-13-2007 12:13 AM

If you can build one little box you can build a kitchen…if you had a router.

View scottb's profile

scottb

3648 posts in 3791 days


#11 posted 03-13-2007 02:48 AM

Funny you should say that Dennis, a relative just picked up a bunch at a clearance sale, I may have one or two real soon, and real cheap! (If only he was able to get a bunch of bits thrown in! :)

So Rob, you’ll be up for Christmas this year then, or perhaps, more importantly, Boxing Day? :)

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- http://blanchardcreative.etsy.com -- http://snbcreative.wordpress.com/

View scottb's profile

scottb

3648 posts in 3791 days


#12 posted 03-16-2007 06:26 AM

Ok after re-reading the steps for the second box, I have another issue with the editing, which a beginner might not notice, but may cause major probs for them. The second project calls for 5/8ths stock, but makes no reference to planing, resawing or anything to take the 1x they suggest you go ask for at the lumberyard. I thought the pix were out of order, as there is reference made to planing the top and bottom piece, which were glue-ups, but nothing about the sides. It looks like a few steps are overlooked.

However, having realized this, there’s no prob, I can proceed as I want to. Was probably going to have to change the dimensions a bit anyhow. Just surprised at the inconsistant editing I’ve noticed so far. Instruction books, cookbooks, and so forth really require more than just simple editing, they need people triplechecking the facts, the ingredients against the prep. My friend published a cookbook, and had about a dozen of us test recipes. Amazing the difference a typo can make!

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- http://blanchardcreative.etsy.com -- http://snbcreative.wordpress.com/

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

18615 posts in 3625 days


#13 posted 03-16-2007 11:48 AM

Yes, you’d think that they would have given the book to a newbie and said, OK.. make some boxes. Then they would have found all the missed steps and missed-takes.

But, you now have more information for when YOU make YOUR book for us beginners!!! :)

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (https://www.facebook.com/DebbiePribeleENJOConsultant)

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

18615 posts in 3625 days


#14 posted 03-16-2007 11:48 AM

oh wait
I see a section in the L.J. magazine. Each issue presents the next box level. Oh yah. A series!!

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (https://www.facebook.com/DebbiePribeleENJOConsultant)

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 3764 days


#15 posted 03-16-2007 02:18 PM

Scott, the router is the cheap part. Then come the bits, which can cost you a bundle.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN. http://www.woodcarvingillustrated.com/gallery/member.php?uid=3627&protype=1

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