Saturday, January 19, 2013

At Last --- the Case is Assembled

     It seems as if it's been a long time coming but the case is now assembled and the miter keys are glued in and drying.  Between my on-going fight with the flu (which I'm determined to win!) and the complexity of the inserts this project is taking longer than I had expected.  Let me give you a photographic essay of the entire assembly process.
     It started with preparing all of the pieces for the glue up and also getting the clamps pre-set and ready to go.  As always, a dry fit is a good habit to insure that things were going to go well.

Ready for Glue-Up
     No matter how well prepared I am there's always a certain level of stress that kicks in when it comes time to assemble a project.  Doesn't seem to matter if it's a simple or complicated one the stress is there.  I'm using 3 clamps on these mitered joints.  The blue tape on the inside is there in case of glue squeeze out, makes it a little easier to clean up.  I'm using Old Brown Glue which is in the background along with an acid brush and a damp paper towel to clean any glue off of my fingers and keep things as neat as possible.  Glue up went well so here's how it went into the laundry room to dry.

The green tape you see on the outside is there to identify the proper assembly sequence so the grain pattern is continuous.
     The next day it was time to cut the slots to reinforce the miters and add a decorative element to the case.  At the time I made it, I thought my jig was over-kill and way to large, however;  I must have known I was going to get this commission.  I was glad to have the extra size of it to support this case.

Cutting the Slot for the Keys
This is a good sized box,  roughly 7" x 12" x 18" so I had to be sure to hold things steady.  The purpose of this key is to reinforce the miter by adding some long grain to long grain glue surface.  A miter on its own doesn't have a lot of strength since it's mostly a end grain to end grain joint.
     After planing a piece of Maple so that it was a snug fit, it was cut into triangles for the keys.  This was easily done with a bench hook and a Japanese fine cut saw.

Cutting the Keys
I had a lesson with two students today on cutting dovetails and this bench hook was part of our discussion.  This is a definite example of over-kill.  Bench hooks are great shop made appliances and really don't need the strength or finesse of a dovetail joint.  All that's required is a couple of pieces of scrap glued/screwed together like the one in the back ground.  Making the dovetailed one is a great practice piece to keep your dovetail skills up to date.  The other bench hook was used to hold the spline material for planing.

Cardboard Glue Applicator

     Once the keys were all cut it was time to put them in place.  You can see I use a very sophisticated and high tech glue applicator.  I've found that for a narrow space like this a piece of cardboard is all you need.  First step is wiping it onto the sides of the slot.

Glue on Bottom of Key
Next, I put a small amount of glue on the bottom of the key.  As the key is pressed into the slot this glue will squeeze up the sides.  It's important that the key is fully seated in the slot.  At our last Sin City Woodworkers meeting the subject of a "rubbed glue joint" came up.  This is an example of that.  Once the glue has been applied you rub it back and forth in the slot until you can feel it start to grab.  At that point you just let it go.  Here you can see how it'll end up.

The technique on this box is one I've done before.  After the splines are dry they will be planed smooth and the entire box will be finished.  The separation is between the shorter splines in the middle of the box.  Notice the mallet?  I've learned from experience that the spline material may swell up when the glue gets on it making it almost impossible to seat it my hand.  That's where the mallet comes in.
     Once the box is separated it'll be time to install the hinges and the catches.  First up though will be the egg crate divider system needed for the chess pieces. Yes, I'll make the deadline for delivery!

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