bBox #1: prototype: milling

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Blog entry by PurpLev posted 06-03-2012 01:50 AM 5349 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of bBox series no next part

this project was on the list for quite some time, but because of it’s final size (quantity) and the desire to have it all matched up was on the back burner until now.

the idea is to have a set of custom boxes with a custom purpose that will be revealed at a later date. For now I am starting with doing just 1, and if it works as expected, will batch build the rest running with the same dimensions, just more parts per step.

A while back I went to an estate sale where I got my pipe vises and some other stuff, among the items were several 10ft 6”wide boards of 5/4 birch lumber (at least thats what it was labeled as). I was planning to use those long boards for furniture (coffee table) but have since abandoned that idea, and looking at the grain on these boards, I think they would work great for this set of boxes. the grain is straight, and slightly curly and will look nice per box as well as match really well between all the boxes:

you can see that the boards are a bit twisted, but we’ll take care of it shortly with very little blood and tears.

I sent a simple sketchup model to my smartphone to use for parts dimensions for milling. this way I don’t have to print out anything on papers (save the trees for woodworking):

Roughly marked the lengths of the parts with a chalk (for visibility):

and cut to rough lengths with my latest addition to the shop – the frame saw:

cuts went really fast and really straight and really clean – so far this saw stands up to the expectations!

Using a #5 (recently restored) Jack plane, I took off the high spots using diagonal cuts. dimensioning each smaller board takes much less effort, and the material required to take off to get it flat is much less, so not only it’s less work, you also end up with thicker material:

I followed up with a#6 (longest that I currently have – although am expecting a #7 in the mail any day now… will write about that when it arrives and restored), using very shallow finishing cuts to smooth and flatten the board with the grain:

I still had to go back with the #6 cross grain in a couple of high spots. but those were minimal. Next I jointed one edge in reference to the flattened face:

And then took these to the planer and surfaced/thickness the 2 boards flat and parallel on both faces as thick as I could get it (about 1 1/8”):

I wanted to have 2 flat faces so that in the next step after I resaw these boards in half, I’ll have 1 flat face on each resawed part to reference against and I could just use the planer to mill the boards as they come off of the bandsaw to final dimensions. Off of the bandsaw I was able to get 4 slices just a bit above 1/2” thick each. in fact I missed my mark, and had 2 slices at just a tad bit over 1/2” and 2 slices a tad thicker than that. would be better to cut it straight in the middle, but as long as I was over 1/2” on all slices I was good to go:

A plug for Woodslicer and the Rikon bandsaw and only because I was surprised at the results: Even with a bent Woodslicer (1/2”) blade (snagged in a log I resawed a while ago) I was able to get consistent and clean slices in almost perfect parallel thickness across 6”+ wide boards 11” long! not only that, when I then went to the planer to thickness to final dimensions, I had to recheck several times which face was previously planed, and which face was the one that came off of the bandsaw blade – the cuts were THAT clean and smooth – and with a bent blade no less! I was impressed.

I marked the previously surfaced faces (so that I won’t have to recheck which ones they are :) ) and planed all the slices to same thickness aiming for “as thick as possible” setting and not really looking at numerical values. It just so happen that the final thickness was 1/2” spot on:

not bad… (which reminds me – someone posted a few days ago that he wanted to get 4/4 material to save on the expense and resaw it to 2×1/2” thick boards – so here is the example of how even 5/4 board resawed in half it marginally producing 2×1/2” boards)

with the 1 jointed edge I squared 1 end, and cut the boards to length. The incra miter express and miter gauge really shine at these operations – the precision and the easy of use is second to none (ok, maybe a slider saw… although that would cost ~10x what I spent on my saw+sled together):

With the ends cut to length, the final cut was to cut to width (cleans off any tear out from the cross cuts if exists – which I did not have this time around), This was a 1 setting of the TS fence, and running all boards through at same setting and I was left with the 4 parts for the box sides which will have to wait for the next step – joinery:

All in all, good progress, manual milling steps took less time and effort than one might think, and to me were much more pleasing than wearing ear muffs and watching where my fingers are at all times. as for the planer and the TS for repeat cuts and identical dimensions – hard to beat those machines for the ease of getting these results :)

Thanks for reading,

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

5 comments so far

View Lenny's profile


1705 posts in 4651 days

#1 posted 06-03-2012 08:34 AM

Nice effort on your part Sharon with great results. Also nice to see the new frame saw in use. Best wishes as you proceed with this project.

-- On the eighth day God was back in His woodworking shop! Lenny, East Providence, RI

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4168 posts in 3980 days

#2 posted 06-03-2012 11:16 AM

Nice to get a pet project into being

I wonder if we LJ’s have an infinate list of

projects on the back burner?

The saw looks good and I’m glad it came up to

your expectations.


-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View SirFatty's profile


547 posts in 3336 days

#3 posted 06-03-2012 01:10 PM

Nice work!

I like the dovetails on your bench also.

-- Visit my blog at

View mafe's profile


13202 posts in 4213 days

#4 posted 06-04-2012 09:02 PM

So nice to se the saw in action.
Best thoughts,

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

View PurpLev's profile


8652 posts in 4772 days

#5 posted 06-04-2012 11:26 PM

Thank you for the kind wards.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

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