Monday, January 21, 2013

Shadow Box Project

     I've started an interesting project that came to me unexpectedly.  My friend Christian Brisepierre who owns Woodworker's Emporium here in Las Vegas called me the other day.  He told me about a client of his that needed a shadow box built but he was swamped so would I be interested in taking this on, I was. He emailed me the contact information and a sketch and that's how it started.  Here's what the sketch looked like:

  As you  can see, it's pretty complete and detailed.  I called the man up and we discussed the project.  A time was arranged so we could meet and he even came with the materials all set to go.  I didn't realize that one of our "big box" stores sold dimensioned, clear Pine but that's what he brought over.  Quality wasn't bad either so that eliminated two steps for me, drawing the plans and buying the materials.

     We discussed his plans and his vision for the project, decided on my fee and the work began.  This will be a two sided shadow box that will sit on a table, this way the contents can be seen from either side.  After setting up a dado head, the side and top pieces were rabbeted to accept the 1/4" plexiglas.   After re-adjusting the fence, the joinery was cut on the ends of each piece.

Rabbets cut on Ends
     After adjusting a small router plane for the exact depth, these cuts were quickly smoothed out and brought to the required dimensions.

Stanley # 271
     Next up was to cut the dados required for the shelves.  Here's were I really had to be accurate with my measurements to make sure the "egg crate" would all slip together.  The dado head couldn't cut deep enough into the 2 1/2" wide shelves so that cut needed to be finished up by hand.  I decided to only make them deeper on the center section.  After marking the required depth, a dovetail saw was used to get there:

Deepening the Slot
     This was followed up with some chisel work:

Removing the Waste
and now the egg crate went together --- well, almost!  Remember I mentioned that my client had brought the material over for this project and I said it was pretty nice looking stuff?  Well, looks can be decieving!  He had brought over 2 pieces, 3/8" x 24" to cut the shelves from.  One of those must of had quite a bit of tension in it because after it was cut to the 11+" length both pieces took a twist and wouldn't fit into the slots without forcing them.  That just wasn't acceptable.  Lucky for me I had recently purchased a piece of clear Pine for a future box series so used a foot of so of it to make new shelves so that took care of that problem.  I'm hoping that I can use the material he brought for feet on the boxes I have planned so I won't need to charge him for the material too.
     Another slight problem is that the pieces from the "big box" store weren't consistent in thickness.  They were off enough that they barely fit into the groove on one end but were loose on the other.  I decided the best way to tackle that was to plane them down:

Smoothing the Boards
    My preference is always to create planed surfaces as opposed to a sanded one.  Now that things are done here's a shot of the almost completed project:

Dry Fit Looks Good
     You can see things went together well, there's a uniform rabbet on both sides to accommodate the plexiglas.  The last thing will be to shape a molding that the client will screw to the box.  This way he'll be able to remove it and change the items displayed.  Another plus about this commission is that he will assemble and finish it so my end of this project is almost complete!

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