Monday, May 27, 2013

New Box Series -- Lidded Finger Joint

     As I was wrapping up the Slanted Dovetail series of boxes I was also beginning work on another run of the Lidded Finger Joint series.  I'm not kidding, I need to get to an easier, less time consuming series to clear my head just a little bit!  Here's the end result of the first assembled one:

Clamped Up -- Fingers Crossed
     In case you're wondering why I say "fingers crossed" it's because this is a difficult glue up.  All of the finger joints need to be glued (obviously) and the lid has to be aligned on the hidden brass pin hinges and then kept square.  Looks okay but the proof will come when the clamps are removed and I can see what I've really done.  This one has some doweled joints that will be added once the glue has set up and the clamps are removed.
     The wood I used for these is Macacauba, if you'd like to know more about it go to this LINK, it's a pretty awesome wood but these particular boards were difficult to work with.  Like any project we started out planing an edge.  Prior to that though I did run it through the planer to get a 1/2" thickness.

Establishing a Working Edge
     When I build these boxes I let the size of the boards I have determine the dimensions of the boxes.  Once the pieces were ripped and planed to width they were cut to length as required.  Since it's a good design element to have the grain follow the boards around the box you need to cut a front, then a side, then the back, and finally the other side.  My system is to first set a stop block for the long dimension and cut the front:

Cutting the Front
     Next I'll insert a spacer block to cut the side piece.  Just for an example it the length of the box is 10" and the width is 6" this spacer block would be 4":

Cut With Spacer in Place
     As the pieces are cut to size, I lay them off to the side in the order they're cut and then mark them with a piece of tape to keep track of how to reassemble them:

Marked for Re-Assembly
     This Macacauba seemed to be harder than the previous batch I've finger jointed.  You could hear and feel the resistance as the dado head worked to cut the wood.  I suspect that the hardness of this material will require sharpening the blades!

Finger Jointing
     Steps that followed for this series of boxes were to cut a groove for the bottom and then cut a piece of plywood to fit.  Some of these boxes will have brass screws in the fingers so I needed to pre-drill for them.  This creates an interesting element once they're filed smooth and polished; did I mention this project is time consuming?  The lid and carefully drilling holes for the 1/8" brass pin is next.  Unfortunately, one of the lids slipped a bit so there will be a different style lid for that one!
     After the drilling is done, the hinged edge needs to be shaped so the box opens:

Fitting/Shaping the Lid
     This is a combination of a quarter round router bit and then hand planing the opposite edge so the lid will open as you see it.  Now a lid lift needs to be crafted and again, that's a combination of hand and power tool work.  After forming the piece of Walnut for the lift the process begins by using  a hinge template to remove some of the under side of the lid:

Router Work
     This is followed by carefully fitting the piece in by hand -- so much nicer and quieter!

Fitting the Walnut Lift

     Now, before assembling the box I'll plane the inside surfaces as well as both sides of the lid to get them smooth:

Smooth Plane Work
     My preference is to use liquid hide glue for these types of glue-ups.  I like the longer open time it gives me.  Unlike PVA glue, the wood doesn't seem to swell up and make assembly more difficult.  Old Brown Glue is my choice of liquid hide glue.  It also cleans up easier than PVA glues.
     I have an idea for the next series of boxes using Baltic Birch plywood cut so to emphasize the various layers, something done years ago for decoupage plaques.  Honest, these will require less hand work with just simple miter joinery, dado for the bottom, and a tinted shellac finish.  Hobby Lobby has a bunch of interesting imported knobs that will finish this series off.  Probably get started on them next week.

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