Friday, October 12, 2012

Shooting Miters & Other Hand Work

Front & Bottom Panel for Box Freshly Oiled

     Up until about a week or so ago I'd never heard of the game called Pandemic but here I am, making a custom case to hold it and all of its component parts.  Of course I had to find out a bit about this game so consulted Wikipedia, here's a LINK from them explaining the game.  It sounds pretty interesting, especially since my daughter has a degree in microbiology and told me years ago that we don't need to worry about the big things (lions, tigers, bears oh my!) getting us it's the little bugs and viruses that'll do us in.  Having Valley Fever I can definitely relate and agree to that statement.  In any case, the game pits the players against 4 viruses that they need to stop before it turns into a pandemic and wipes out the world -- pretty cool!
     When I was first approached (via my Etsy store) about this project I just had to see if it was possible to carve the gas masked icon for the game that I found doing an image search.  It was printed out and since I had an 8" wide piece of Alder I decided that's what I'd use.  It came out well and the client liked it so work began.
     Alder is a nice hardwood that is sometimes considered to be a Cherry substitute although it's not nearly as hard.  There are a lot of cards used with this game that are the same size as a regulation playing card.  That was the basis for the over-all sizing of the box, really designed it from the inside out to make sure the cards, components, and game board would be custom fit inside of it.  The box will be an anniversary present so I have a deadline.
     The construction of the box will be mitered corners with Walnut splines for strength and decoration. You know how every time you do something you usually end up learning something as well?  You may recall that I recently re-adjusted the top of my tablesaw to the blade, it was off just a very slight amount but now it's cutting dead on.  Well, it didn't dawn on my that I'd need to also re-adjust my miter and crosscut sleds because they were dialed in to the miter slots being off a tad.  Of course, this had to be learned when cutting the miters not the 90 degree cuts; they would have been much easier to true up than the miters!  To make a long story short, I needed to do more work shooting the miters than just the few passes to true up the miters as I usually do.  Here's how I go about cutting them.  First, I'll use a scrap piece of wood to dial in the length of the piece:

Scrap, Test Piece to Be Exact

     Whenever possible I like to lock in the rip fence with a block clamped to it at the correct length.  Once the scrap piece of wood is correct, I'll then cut the actual box side.

Actual Side Piece

     No matter how accurately the miter is set up,  it's always good to shoot the miter to remove any saw marks and just clean it up a little.  To do that I have a small shooting board that uses a block plane; works well.

Shooting Miter
    I needed to do a little more than I really wanted to with this since I re-calibrated the tablesaw but it's well worth the effort.  Here's a close up of one of the boards that seemed to be out the most.  The sides of the box are 5+ inches and this piece has a very slight crown to it which compounded the problem in the miter.

Miter Close Up
     Now that's done I can concentrate on the panels for the top and bottom.  The bottom panel was glued up from two pieces but for the top it was necessary to laminate a piece to both edges to get the required width.  Then it was some careful hand planing to level it out without messing up the carving.  I like how the piece at the top of the gas mask guy has a grey streak, almost like there's some sort of virus or fungus up there!

Making the Top Panel

     Before oiling the piece I took the time to enhance the carving and deepen the cuts where needed.  Since the top will float in the box another thing was to soften the edges of the rabbet.
     Now that the first coat of the finish is drying it gives me at least three days to work on the box interior.  There will be partitions and slots to organize all of the cards.  The reason for waiting is to give me time to get the first couple of top coats, hand rubbed into them.  It's so much easier to finish them before the box is assembled.

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