Wednesday, September 23, 2009
"Me Box" Part III
Okay, here's day two of the "one day" project...
After taking the box out of the clamps, it was time to clean up the joints. Not too bad - it just fit in the vise. I was careful not to put too much pressure on it and pop a corner, and with the box resting on my saw bench, it really didn't need much clamping pressure to be very steady.
Now it was time to make the lid. I could see the end of the project in sight - the lid was a straight forward affair - just cut to width, three rabbets and done. I'd be finished in less than an hour, what could happen?
I used the extension slide on my folding rule to measure the width of the lid from the bottoms of the two grooves.
After getting the dimension, I marked the lid stock for ripping. Normally, I true an edge and then use a panel gauge to mark the waste to be cut off the far side. Here however, I wanted the grain pattern to remain centered on the lid. So I trued one edge, made the second parallel, and then marked in from both edges 1/2 the amount to be removed. A little more work, but it made for a much nicer looking lid.
I ripped the two edges off. I tried to rip as close to the lay-out lines as possible without removing them.
Then I used a plane to work down to the gauged line. I love how the cut line itself shows you when you are close by peeling up in a long curl. If both arrises peel at the same time, the edge is working square. As you can see in this shot, most of the left arris had already peeled - telling me that I was slightly out of square - easy to fix in a few passes of the plane.
With the lid cut to size, I planed the rabbets and gave the lid a test fit. Too tight.
A closer look revealed that all four surfaces needed to be relieved slightly.
I took it very slow - too much removed and the lid action would be sloppy. I knew from experience, that the perfect fit would feel too snug at first, but after several times of sliding in and out, it would loosen up a hair and be just right. However, I also had to think about movement. It's been very damp here lately and the relative humidity is right around 75%. But all too soon, the temperature will plummet and the moisture content will drop with it. By the middle of winter the relative humidity will be down in the low teens and the lid will shrink a little, so I wanted to make it as tight as possible now, but still remain functional.
Several test fits, with minimal planing between, and the lid slid home.
I was done! Mostly anyway. Just peg the joints and add the handles. And even though I was behind schedule, I had so far managed to stick to the general plan and not over complicate things with new ideas.
But - one problem. I didn't like it. I found it - well boring. Bummer.
Not that it wasn't a nice box - it was. It just didn't have much in the way of character. I didn't feel like this box represented "me". It needed something, but what?
I looked at it from different angles. I mocked up various moldings. I thought about building a skirt or low base. I tested out some feet ideas. Nope, nope, nope and nope. Nothing was making me happy.
Then I turned it over. Hmm. The piece I had used for the bottom had been slightly thicker then the rest of the stock. Because of this, the bottom had extended below the sides and the piece needed to be reduced in thickness. Since it was the bottom, and this was a quickie project, I hadn't bothered to remove the scrub plane tracks before glue up. I looked at them now and realized I kind of liked the way they looked. Hmm. What if I did something similar with the lid...
I was already a day over schedule and here I was complicating things. If I messed up the lid, I'd have to make a new one, out of different stock, which wouldn't match the rest of the box. Plus, it would take another day and I wouldn't be able to present to my students. What should I do? I took a deep breath, and had at it.
Here's the results after the scrub plane - a lot of tear out is visible in the raking light.
Time for a round plane to earn its keep. Here's a shot about half finished with the #14 round plane:
And here it is finished - and I could breath again - the idea had worked out great:
And here is a shot of the bench at the end of the lid shaping process. You can see a test piece leaning against the maul behind the finished lid. Part way through I was still getting tear out (I was sure it was ruined) and I had to stop and sharpen the plane blade. I used this piece of scrap to check if it was successful - thankfully it was. I love the shavings that the round plane made. Freshly sharpened, and set very fine, this 150+ year old plane was a true joy to use. Thank you J. Kellogg! Best of all, the new and improved lid gave the box the character it was missing. Yes!
The lid still needed finger notches, which I cut with a chisel:
And I made a template to help with boring the holes in the ends for the handles.
After that, I pegged the joints, gave it a quick rub with oil, and added the handles. Done! And in only about triple the time I had allotted. Not bad :)
Here are some shots of the finished "Me Box":
And some detail shots:
I loaded it up with my "me" items (packed in the shavings from making the box), took it to school and presented it to my students. I was very pleased that the box itself told as much, maybe more, about me than the items I put inside. A "Me Box" indeed.