Wednesday, November 17

Keepsake Box: Making the Lid

Welcome back my little woodworking buddies!  I'm sorry to have been away for a few days, I have been working but not getting around to posting that work here.  So, I'll get you caught up.

To make the lid for the box I start by cutting carefully selected rough-sawn lumber into pieces on the chop saw (compound miter saw).  Then I follow the same procedues I did on the otehr part of the box; jointing one wide face and one edge of all three blanks.  EXCEPT; on the piece that goes in the middle I joint both edges.  And I do NOT surface plane the other face or rip the rough edges off the two outside pieces.  Yet.

Then I apply Type III polyurethane glue to the joints and clamp the three pieces together into the blank from which I will make the top.  Almost everywhere I will use regular old yellow (aliphatic) wood glue for joinery.  Most furniture joinery will, in 75 or 100 years, need to be cleaned and reglued. Using a glue that can be taken apart through steaming makes that eventual task easier on the repair technician.  But for making up plates like this, I do not expect them to ever need to be taken apart for repairs, so I use a polyurethane glue.

Would it not be better to use the strongest glue you can find for all your joinery so it never needs repairs?  No.  Because wood moves.  Even though long dead, the wood continues to expand and contract with humidity changes; expand and contract, expand and contract, over and over and over.  Pretty much forever.  Anywhere the grain in the wood meets in different directions; like in the joinery, those pieces will expand and contract in different directions.  A well made and properly glued joint will last for a lomg time, but eventually the glue will fail and the joint will become wobbly. Super-duper-extra-strength glue will make getting the joint apart for repairs that much more difficult because rarely does a joint experience *total* failure. Those parts that remain bonded together will break the wood, making the repair just that much more difficult.  Using a repairable wood glue will make someones job much easier when that day comes.

Where was I?  Oh yes...

Now that the glue is set up I take the top blank and surface plane off the rough face of the blank.  When that is smooth, I flip it over and plane off just enough from the other face to even up any discrepency in the two glue joints.

When I'm done I have an attractive piece of wide wood.  If I've done my job well, the colors in the three pieces of wood blend so well as they cross the wood that you can not see the glue joints at all.  This looks good.

Now I rip the long edges to width on the table saw and install my cross-cut sled to trim the ends straight, square to the long edges and to finished length.  When done, I measure across both diagonals; if both measurements are the same, the blank is perfectly square and we should not have any problems fitting it to our perfectly square box.

To make a more elegant shape on the lid of the box, I set the table saw blade to 80° and install a tall rip-fence attachment. I use this set-up to support the lid as I trim off thin, wedge shaped pieces from each edge of the top surface. This yelds a hip-roof shape that is far more elegant than just a flat top.

To make it even nicer I use the table saw to cut out a rabbet on all edges of the under side - 1/4" deep and 1" wide. This allows the center part of the lid to slip down inside the sides of the box bottom; no need for stays or hinges or latches.  A simple solution for a simple box; the lid just lifts off for easy access to the treasures within, but when placed back on the box it sits securely and will not slide off.

Next up: SANDING.  This is going to take a while so you may as well go into the office, grab a cup of coffee and keep Zadie and Dolly company for a bit.  Sanding takes attention to detail and lots of patience, but it is *really* boring to watch.  It can not be rushed, even though it is not our favorite part of woodworking.  A piece that is poorly sanded will be poorly finished no matter how much attention to detail give to he finishing process.

Oh, you're back, good!  The sanding is done, and I've vacuumed and tack ragged all the dust away and I'm ready to shoot the first coats of lacquer.  We'll do two full coats, allowing each to dry in between, then scuff sand to smooth the surface before the final coat goes on.

Once all three coats are on I'll let the lacquer dry overnight.  Tomorrow we'll finish it up, inspect it and once I'm satisfied all is well, deliver it.

See you then!

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