Wednesday, September 16, 2009

"Me Box" Part I

This project grew out of an assignment my teaching partner and I gave our 7th grade students: create a "me box". A "me box" is a shoebox with carefully selected items that represent your interests, hobbies, goals, personal history, family etc. After gathering their items, and decorating their boxes, each student gave a presentation to share their box with the class. Of course, we made our own "me boxes" too, to share with our students.

I believe that regular readers of this blog will be familiar with my propensity for complicating even the simplest project. Well, it happened again. I found myself with some extra time and thought, "Wait. I have a great idea! Instead of all the "me" stuff being in the box, what if it IS the box too! That would be cool!" And right there, my weekend got swallowed up.

This was a "design as you go" project. No plans; other than a vague dimensional goal. Here's what I started with:

I added the shorter piece, as the longer, nicer piece was too short to make all six parts of the box in the size I had in mind. The grain and color didn't really match, but I planned on using it for the bottom panel, so I didn't care.

The sides and ends of this box have two grooves each for the floating bottom panel and the sliding lid. I actually remembered to plow the grooves before cutting the parts to length. I always forget this, and it makes the job a lot easier if you do it all at once.

My tool of choice for plowing these groves - the mighty Stanley 45 "seven planes in one" combination plane:

Mighty useful, mighty complicated, mighty finicky, mighty annoying, mighty heavy, mighty...

Really though, these things are great at plowing grooves. Make sure the cutter is sharp, and the skates adjusted correctly to support both edges of the cutter.

The extension on a folding rule made adjusting the depth stop easy:

After the 45 was adjusted, and the board held securely with holdfasts, it was quick work to plow the grooves. The chalk marks on the board were to remind me which side I was grooving. After mistakenly plowing the grooves on my chosen "face" side on numerous occasions in the past, I finally got wise and adopted this system.

The shavings from the plow are on the thick side, (I set the cutter more for speed than a smooth finish) but they do curl nicely.

After plowing the grooves, I cleaned up the board with a smoothing plane...

...making my favorite kind of shavings.

At this point, the project was moving right along and I was actually on schedule. Of course that would change...

Continued in Part II.

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