Project SC #1: Tightrope walking for beginners

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by BritBoxmaker posted 08-08-2010 04:07 PM 6149 reads 27 times favorited 21 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Project SC series Part 2: Got to get it together,now »

In my last blog I showed a pattern which I am determined to try.

It is made of rectangles from 1mm to 12mm in size. Due to a shortage of materials (Ebony) I am making the pattern from 1mm to 10mm. This is because my aim is to make a box using this pattern (or parts thereof) on all visible faces. This is the tallest order I have placed on myself to date. ImpossibleII now seems a fond memory. Machining wood down to 1mm square is a nightmare. A bit like I imagine tightrope walking to be and I look rediculous in a Leotard. There are many things that could go wrong and so I have fallback positions in the design. You’ll know when this happens, I’ll tell you.

Here goes. I don’t have a personal God so I ask politely if I may borrow Wonder Woman (autumn)’s table saw gods for the duration.

First thing to do is cut strips of both woods (Maple and Ebony used here) in sizes from 1mm to 10mm in 1mm steps, 20 in all. The length I calculated for my pattern was 500mm, which leaves me some spare.

From this I intend to make one full pattern (for the top of the box) and four half patterns (for the sides). They are seen here layed out in order ready for the initial glue-up. I then cut 1/3rd off one end in order to introduce sacrificial strips of walnut to the pattern that is going to make what I will call the left and right sides of the box. These are put in at the height (up the box side) that the seperating cut will take place (when the box is complete) when the box top is seperated from the bottom. At this stage masking tape is placed between the two 10mm strips to keep this 1/3rd of the pattern as two halves, after glue-up. The reason for this will be revealed later.

The ‘back’ and ‘front’ side sacrificial pieces can be put in when this glue-up has been cross-cut to make the chess board like pattern. Lost yet? I am. After glue-up, tidying up to uniform thickness on the drum sander and chopping up this is what we have.

Normally when cutting narrow strips on the table saw I use a re-usable zero clearence piece of MDF. This time in order to keep the patterns perpendicular to the fence (as they are cut into strips) and to give me some chance of retrieving 1mm slices from the blade I’m going to double-sided tape all of the patterns to a sacrificial 6mm sheet of MDF.

Then trim off both sides

And cover the whole top in masking tape in a vain attempt to keep it all together

The next bit was where the tightrope walking came in. I had to cut 1mm, 2mm, ........10mm slices off both sides until I got all these strips

Shown here on their sides and marked from 1 to 10 (mm). Whilst I did put another waste strip at both ends of the assembly there were failures and I lost some of the 1mm pieces from the ends. There was however a spare 6mm strip at the end of cutting and I hope to be able to make these up from this, later. When the strips were suitable placed together they formed this

Which I hope you can see through the masking tape shows the beginnings of two full patterns. Dont worry about the end pieces I’ll sort that out before glue-up. I am now physically and mentally exhausted and thats it for today

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging.

21 comments so far

View Jimthecarver's profile


1124 posts in 4146 days

#1 posted 08-08-2010 04:13 PM


-- Can't never could do anything, to try is to advance.

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9238 posts in 3280 days

#2 posted 08-08-2010 04:17 PM

Holy, Moley, Martyn!! How can you even see straight – let alone think straight after doing this? Exhausting must be an understatement.

Thank you for taking the time to show us. It is fascinating to watch the process you came up with. Just when we all think you hit your peak, you climb to another level. My hat off to you, my friend! So far it looks wonderful!


-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View mtnwild's profile


3474 posts in 3888 days

#3 posted 08-08-2010 04:21 PM

You’re really doing it! Looks great, so far!

Thanks for the blog. Helps the confused brain, trying to figure that out. WOW!

-- mtnwild (Jack), It's not what you see, it's how you see it.

View BarbS's profile


2434 posts in 4446 days

#4 posted 08-08-2010 04:30 PM

Your pre-planniing skill is amazing… altering the pattern to compensate for the lid separation cut, adding in tape for some unknown to us reason. Thanks for the blog and allowing us to follow along. Good thing I’m so tall, and can look over all the other peoples’ shoulders hunched over your work bench.


View Mary Anne's profile

Mary Anne

1058 posts in 3569 days

#5 posted 08-08-2010 04:40 PM

I think this would be an incredibly difficult challenge in a table top size. But to take it down to millimeters!! You amaze me. Thank you so much for the blog; I am still waiting for my mind to click on the cutting and recutting required for even a simple pattern.

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3475 days

#6 posted 08-08-2010 04:45 PM

at this stage of the weekend isnĀ“t the best time to start in your classroom again proffessor
too many hours at work and not enoff sleep
but at least it looks confusing to look at as usual even with only one half eye open and the brain shot off
I will return tommorow with the brain in learning mode
before you start svinging your shity-stick

looking forward to your next installment Martyn

View Bluebear's profile


417 posts in 3257 days

#7 posted 08-08-2010 05:21 PM

wow, you move quick :) looks excellent! i’m following with interest!

-- -- It's only a mistake if you can't fix it.

View Kate's profile


400 posts in 4235 days

#8 posted 08-08-2010 05:42 PM

Incredible. I’m exhausted just watching you.

-- Kate,

View Randy63's profile


252 posts in 3252 days

#9 posted 08-08-2010 05:44 PM

Thanks for sharing your steps on how you acheived this pattern. Tremendous amount of tedious work and effort was involved. It would be interesting to know your method of ripping the ultra thin strips of material for the pattern. 1mm is scary small. Look forward to the rest of your blog.

-- Randy, Oakdale, Ca.

View Ross's profile


30 posts in 3211 days

#10 posted 08-08-2010 06:55 PM

going gr8 chap, keep it up!

-- after hours of labour, i've broken it more....but at least it's colourful!!!

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4611 posts in 3397 days

#11 posted 08-08-2010 07:04 PM

WW – I think your scrap pile must have caught a glimpse of one of my patterns, over your shoulder. It contacted me! LOL

Barbs – All will be revealed

All – Thanks for the encouragement

Randy – I refer you to my Little Bess Box, personal challenge blog, here Third pic,I used a 12mm piece of MDF as a zero clearence jig.

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging.

View mafe's profile


11971 posts in 3450 days

#12 posted 08-08-2010 07:24 PM

It’s going to be fantastic. I cant’wait to see the result.
It’s talking to this architects mind, I have to try something like that once.
Thank you for sharing this.
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4611 posts in 3397 days

#13 posted 08-08-2010 07:25 PM

Thanks, Mads. I’d have loved to have been an Architect but I never had the self-confidence.

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging.

View mtkate's profile


2049 posts in 3686 days

#14 posted 08-08-2010 07:29 PM

I’m seeing the optical illusion. Really crafty work.

View SPalm's profile


5332 posts in 4242 days

#15 posted 08-08-2010 07:50 PM

Hey Prof, Looking good. You are really good in working in small. I am jealous.
I don’t understand why you need 2 full patterns, but I am sure all will be revealed.


-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

showing 1 through 15 of 21 comments

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics