Friday, November 30, 2012

New Special Order: Celtic Flute Case

It's a Start!
     Although it doesn't look like a whole lot in this picture, this will be a case for a Celtic Flute and  placed under someone's Christmas tree this year.  I had a request from my Etsy store to make this.  Making custom cases is interesting, so far the communication on these types of projects has been successful.  There's kind of an unwritten rule that says you should only rely on measurements you've taken yourself when building something but that's not always possible.  The approximate size is 3" tall x 5" wide x 16" long.  The wood is Sapele and I had just enough for this project.
     Making one of a kind pieces is a joy.  It allows me to select and lay out the wood to show it to its best advantage.  If you're a woodworker you know that there may be hidden flaws or defects the show themselves only after you've begun to cut things out.  For this project a piece of 8/4 Sapele was used which of course, called for re-sawing.  One piece was cut into thirds to give me the 7/16" thickness for the sides while another was sawn in half to yield the top and bottom panels.  I've seen quite a bit of talk about bandsaws and specialized fences for re-sawing but find that the old method I use is still effective.

Checking for Drift
     Step one is to plane the bottom of the board square and then mark your line.  Free hand, I'll cut about 2/3's of the way through  the board staying right on the line then turn off the saw.  Once the blade has come to a full stop I carefully let go of the board making sure it doesn't move.

Draw Line 

     Step two is to draw a line along the edge of the board on the table.  This will be parallel to the cut you made.

Can You See It?

Step three is to align the fence with the line you just drew.

It's hard to see, but if you look closely the drawn line is just to the right of the fence.  On my Jet bandsaw there are 4 bolts that can be loosened.  This allows you to move the fence to make it line up to the line drawn on the table.  You're now set up to re-saw the boards.  Basically this is the amount of drift, for this kind of wood, with the tension currently set on the saw.

Re-Sawing the Sapele


     Now that every thing is properly set up it's time to cut the material.  The final step to the process is to run the boards through the thickness planer so they are the same thickness.

     I have a good quality planer but it seems that no matter how carefully things are set up and adjusted a small amount of snipe is inevitable.  You can see the snipe here, just ahead of  the pencil.

Planer Snipe
     That's why I always use a smooth plane for the final surface, even this Sapele with its interlocked grain responds pretty well to the plane, now that snipe is gone.

Snipeless --  Is That a Word?
  Next up is cutting the finger joints.  You'd think that the adjustments wouldn't have changed but … they did.  After tapping a bit to the right, then a bit too much,  then back to the left for what seemed like a hundred times I finally just completely loosened the jig and started from scratch.  You know what, that worked the first try!

Finger Joints on the Last Piece
     One of my students keeps asking me if I own stock in Lee Valley because many of the tools I own were purchased from them.  I don't but they do carry and develop quality tools for not only woodworking but gardening as well.  They make a box-slotting router bit that really simplifies the process of cutting a slot to hold a box or drawer bottom.  Here's a LINK to it so you can see for yourself.  To cut a slot in any box that isn't mitered requires a stopped groove on two of the sides.  You can plan the slot on the other two sides to either coincide with a dovetail or finger but that can be a hassle.  With this router bit, you assemble the box and then route the slot.

Box Slotting Bit in Use
     It is a pretty messy job which is the one downside.  After clamping the box together, I used band clamps for this one, it's put over the bit and cut out.  I try to keep ahead of some of the mess by holding the vacuum cleaner hose in one hand as I cut which does help quite a lot.  The one bit of advice I'd give is to make the cut in two passes.  I'm cutting a 1/4" deep slot so just eyeball half the depth for the initial pass and then finish it off to the final depth with the bearing guiding the depth of cut.
     This leaves a radiused corner which just so happens to be about the size of a quarter.

Laying Out Corner Radius
     Pretty self explanatory and very easy to file to the required shape.  After marking the limits of the radius with the small combination square, hold the quarter at the edge, trace around it, and then file away.  As always, a trial fit is a wise use of your time.
     The function of this case determined my design process.  The slot for the top and bottom is located 1/2" from the bottom of the case.  The top and bottom panels are 7/16" thick so that means that the box sides will be proud of them so there's no chance of scarring the panels.  To raise the panels a panel raising jig was used, this is my dedicated tablesaw sled that's set for a 15 degree cut.

15 Degree Panel Raising Jig
    As always, the end grain is cut first because if the grain is going to split out, that's where it'll happen. This is followed by cutting the long grain.  To create the flat section of the panel that fits into the slot, the blade of the tablesaw is set to about 5/16" and the fence is slid over to leave 1/4" on the sides to slip into the slot.

Cutting the Flat Tongue for the Box Slot
     A lot has been accomplished but I'm thinking that this is the easier part of the project.  Before gluing together I will finish the panels with Danish oil and my hand rubbed finish, it's always easier to do this before gluing the box together.  The more difficult part of this project will be to create two recesses or troughs for the three sections of the Celtic flute to fit in to.  I was able to find 100% Merino Wool felt from another Etsy store ( and that's already arrived.  What a difference between it and the blends of wool/rayon you find at the local craft stores -- no comparison!
     Looking forward to finishing this wood, that's when things really start to look good.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for the mention : ) Yes, it's true - there is no comparison between the quality of my pure wool felt and the felts you'll find elsewhere. The difference is in the details - just as with your craft!

    Your blog is terrific - great content, great pictures. And gorgeous work.