Thursday, November 11

Keepsake Box - Roughing Parts

Yesterday I brought in enough walnut, cherry and red oak to build the two tray table sets that have been ordered.  Then spend the afternoon trying to straighten up the shop some.  We've been moving things around and I have a few half-completed projects sitting around getting in the way.

The poplar I pulled for Brian's keepsake box has been indoors long enough to be acclimated, so I select a couple of boards with good character.  Let me explain that; I don't mean that they have a mild temper and never lie to their friends, I mean that the grain patterns are interesting, yet stable enough for use in a fairly sizable box.

The board I selected for the sides of the box is much wider than the sides need to be, so my first step is to rip (cut lengthwise) the board 1/2" wider than the finished width is to be.  Then I lay-out the sections of the sides; long - short - long - short so the grain will flow around 3 of the corners perfectly.  The 4th corner will not match up so perfectly and I will place that corner in the back.  There is a technique whereby all four corners can match, but it requires resawing (splitting the thickness in half) a thick board and "un-winding" it to achieve the grain match.  The budget on this box does not allow for the extra work, and resawing this stock would result in sides that are too thin for a box this large.  The sides would tend to bow with humidity changes.

Once the board is laid out, I use our chop saw (slang term for a compound miter saw) to cut the board into the lengths I laid out.  I mark the sections as A, B, C and D to make sure I keep the corners properly identified.

This completes roughing out the box sides.  The first step in finishing them is to use the jointer to flatten and smooth one face and one edge of each piece.  The jointer has a cutter-head in the bed of the tool and uses the perfectly flat, smooth beds on either side to guide the wood so the cutters take of a small amount of wood.  Using the tool properly take a little skill in the way the wood is fed into the cutter, where the pressure is applied when, and so in.  When one face is smooth, I run that face along the fence to smooth and square one edge to the jointed face.

The surface planer is then used to flatten and smooth the rough face.  In this machine the cutter is in the top of the machine.  I run the jointed face along the cast iron bed and the cutters remove a little wood with each pass.  In addition to smoothing the planed surface, it is also made perfectly parallel to the jointed face, helping to produce a nicely squared up part blank.  That makes three surfaces squared to one another; three to go.

My final step for today will be to go back to the table saw and trim the remaining long edge to finished with.  This squares that edge to the two faces and makes it parallel to the opposite edge.  I'll square up the two ends when I trim them to length and miter them tomorrow.

See you then!

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