This is my second project and I had to overcome some personal pride to post pictures of what even I can tell is something that doesn’t quite meet LJ standards. Yet I figure there’s only room to go up from here. This was done on/off over a few weeks on nights and parts of weekends. I had to also figure out the tools I needed along the way and track them down on craigslist, eBay, and the big box store.
Ever since I saw the Japanese style toolboxes in Toshio Odate's book, mafe's blog, and the ones by Bob Le at Daiku Dojo, I’ve wanted to build one. To practice the basic elements of the box and again prove to myself that this hobby isn’t a phase I’m going through, I decided to first experiment building a small box out of scrap wood I’d been collecting. The dimensions where out of circumstance and rather odd but I figured I could always fit pencils in there or even give it to my signifiant other as a sort of “rustic” jewelry box.
First task was to dimension the side pieces (pine/whitewood?) to match some small Beach pieces I had. I was then going to use some super soft pieces from a gift basket I had saved for the tops and bottom.
After some rip sawing I was surprised I didn’t go totally off the lines.
Here’s where I got the top and bottom pieces from.
Now I don’t currently have a plane, and I frankly underestimated how square the pieces needed to be. Regardless, I tried (briefly) to square the sides like I square my waterstones, with little to show for it other than a lot of sawdust on the dinner table.
Lesson #1: Get a plane (a low angle Jack is in the mail)
Next step was to do layout. Now it became painfully clear to me how difficult basic layout is when the sides aren’t square. The results confused and annoyed, and it didn’t help that I was very inpatient to do some sawing.
Lesson #2: Be patient
So I’d heard that the proud finger/box joints were forgiving for beginners because nothing needs to be flush and the curved edges concealed the inevitable gaps in my joinery (helpful video). I tried both chiseling and drilling out the waste, the drilling with the hand brace helped speed things up. For the chiseling I’d also made a very rough version of Roy Underhill's bench hook which helped secure the work pieces throughout this project.
Some tries with the brace.
To say the joinery was loose would be an understatement. Other than obvious lack of skill and practice, the main contributing factor to the loose fit joinery was I was too eager to see results. I would chisel away too much before trying the fit.
Lesson #3: Be patient!
Next step was to glue up the frame.
I had to readjust several times to make sure the pieces were square as the clamps would skew the angles.
I certainly wasn’t proud of my proud finger joints (pun intended, appologies), so I bought some skewers to make fancy wooden nails. I got to admit, reinforcing the joints with them was a lot of fun, very satisfying. I think I got carried away and used them too much. Again this was an inspiration from mafe.
Pairing them for a descent fit.
Drilling the holes.
Lack of finesse reared its head again when I hammered too much.
After gluing the back piece, I added some more at angles. Very satisfying.
Once dried up, I wasn’t very sure how the sliding top would work or its measurements. So I did some mock setups to determine the final position of the top beams.
After more gluing and clamping and a round of sanding to smoothen some edges and surfaces a bit I got a functional box. It’s not elegant, the proportions are wrong, the joints are inadequate, but at this point I’m just happy the frustration didn’t ruin it for me, and that I’m even more eager to tackle the next project. Thanks for reading.
-- "As I’ve said to myself many times before: Try to live the way you are, be the person in your work that you are in the rest of your life. Easy to say!” - James Krenov