Saturday, March 16, 2013

Chicago Bound, Custom Etsy Box

      This Etsy business is pretty cool, I mean how else could you get the opportunity to build something for someone half way across the country?  Last Wednesday afternoon (the 13th.) I had a convo on Etsy asking about making a custom box in the style of a cigar box.  My goal is to answer any and all requests I get and have found it's well worth while.  Well, this cigar box has turned out to be 16" square and 6" tall --- that's a lot of cigars!  After 16 Etsy convo's  that included a sketch I got the job.  It's a rush job but glue can only dry so fast!
     The project will be made out of Maple and Baltic Birch plywood and the client will paint it when it arrives.  Like all projects, the first step was to square and dimension the lumber.  As a "hybrid woodworker" I utilize my saw for the rough work and then a #7 Jointer plane for the final passes.

Truing up the Edge
     Something satisfying watching the shavings curl up through the throat of the plane.  Reminds me of students I've had and their satisfaction after sharpening and setting up their own planes.
     Next up was cutting the miters for the box.  This was accomplished on the tablesaw with a jig:

Cutting Side Miters
     Since this box is square it was easy enough to set up a stop block one time and cut each piece exactly the same size.  I hadn't put it into my plans or bid but decided that 6" is a pretty tall box to miter.  Took the extra step of cutting a slot for a spline to reinforce the work.

Cutting for Spline
     This was done by setting a stop block and then testing the depth and location on some of the extra pieces I made.  I imagine I'm not the only one that finds this to be true; if I cut an extra side just in case something goes wrong I never need it.  On the other hand,  if I don't have an extra piece or even enough material to make on, something does go wrong.  Since this was the weekend and a rush job I decided to make 6 pieces for the box and no --- I didn't need the spares!
     There was a technique I saw in Fine Woodworking Magazine quite a while ago that I wanted to try on this box.  Since it's a lift off lid it definitely needs a dust check to align the bottom and lid together.  What they showed in this article was to dado a groove on the inside of the box before assembly.

Dust Stop Dado
     When you separate the lid from the box you cut towards the center of that dado.  Next step will be to make a dust check that will be glued into the box portion and the lid will sit securely on top of it.  Seems like it should work like a charm, sure hope so!
     Glue up was next, thankfully Diane was able to give me a hand getting the clamps in place.  We hit 86 degrees today so that means you need to move quickly so the glue doesn't set up before the clamps are in place.  I used three different band clamps to get it together.

Clamped Up
     You can see the ends of the masonite splines sticking up out of the corners.  The tape is there to make any glue squeeze out easier to clean up.  After the box had dried for a few hours I was able to attach one panel.

There's a Box In There Somewhere!
     To accomplish that I was able to separate my torsion boxes which just happen to be the same width as the box.  Since glue makes everything so slippery the first thing I did after applying a bead of glue was to use my 23 gauge pinner to hold things in place.  About 3, one inch pins on each edge is all it took.  The building block supplies enough weight to for the glue to form a strong bond.
     Time for dinner but before I call it a night I plan to flip the box over and attach the other panel.  That way it'll be ready to work after church tomorrow.  I may need to put the slightest bit of putty over the pinner holes but this box will be painted and that's more than enough to conceal them.  Even though the client offered to pay extra for a rush job couldn't see doing that, sometimes we work better under some pressure.  As it is, I bought a box from Box Brothers so if all goes well I should have no problem taking it to the post office first thing on Monday.

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