First Commissioned Piece #4: Give a box a top...

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Blog entry by Ethan Sincox posted 09-26-2007 06:33 AM 1562 reads 0 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: Keyed miters Part 4 of First Commissioned Piece series Part 5: Finished but not finished... »

Back in the shop this evening… I’ve made some headway on the box, with just a minor adjustment here and there.

For starters, I took my (really cheap) flush cut saw and cut the miter keys flush to the sides of the box. One of these days, I’ll need to break down and pay the shipping for the flush cut Japanese saw Lee Valley has; in one of the last Woodworking Magazine issues, they reviewed flush cut saws and that one came out tops. But that shipping cost of $10 for a $22 item gives me pause. I might have to throw a few more things onto the list to justify the shipping cost. We could always use a few more brick hangers!

Oh, here is the box with the keys cut and the sides sanded…
Keys cut and sanded

And a close-up of one of the corners…
detail of miter keys

You’ll notice the bottom key is just a touch longer than the top two – just a bit of whimsy on my part, no real reason for that.

The next thing I did was to remove the top with the table saw. The technique here is pretty simple; make through cuts on the long sides and then drop the blade height just enough so that it doesn’t cut all the way through (in this case, I set the height to 7/16” because my sides are 1/2” thick), then finish the cuts with a hand saw. A block plane and some sand paper smooths the rough edges and makes for a nice, clean fit.

Here is the box with it’s top… removed.
headless box

You can just see the interior side I pre-finished before gluing up the box. That should give you some indication as to what it will look like when I’m done. Oh, you can also see the moss green suede cloth I used for the lining. I like the earthy brown, black, red, and green colors this box is going to end up having.

Eh… I guess I still need to work on my photography. I was so pleased with myself for remembering to take pictures up to this point, I set the camera down somewhere and forgot to get any pics of the next part.

I still struggle a bit with hinges, I won’t lie. This time was no exception.

I marked the location of the hinges, using a chip carving knife to deepen the score lines. Then I used my Bosch laminate trim router with a 1/8” straight bit to remove the waste. Depth is set to the radius of the hinge.

I got the hinge mortises routed with no problems, drilled the holes for the screws, and put on the hinges. I’m FAIRLY pleased with the results; the box closes just a little off, about 1/32”. Not really that noticeable to the eye, but you can tell easily enough when you run your finger along the edge. Ah, well. I strive for perfection, but I know my limits and my weaknesses – so I’m happy enough with how things are going so far.

The last thing I did this evening was to remove the hinges and apply a coat of Watco’s Danish Oil (dark walnut) to the rest of the box. As I thought, those bog oak keys turned jet black the second the oil hit them – just what I wanted them to do.

I’ll let that dry overnight (not really necessary, but I’ll feel better if I do) and then tomorrow night I’ll hit it with two coats of garnet shellac.

What did I change? I decided to not add the lip to the front of the lid for opening the box. I decided I liked the clean line of the lid without the lip a little better.

Once I get the shellac done, I’ll take the box and some bog oak to my friend Vic’s house. I need his wide belt sander and band saw to dimension the bog oak for the inside dividers.

I’ll shoot a few more pictures tomorrow after I get the shellac on and the hinges attached again.

-- Ethan,

2 comments so far

View WayneC's profile


14359 posts in 5184 days

#1 posted 09-26-2007 06:38 AM

Wow. Looking great Ethan. Love the keys. Finding additional things at Lee-Valley should be easier than finding the money…lol

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 5049 days

#2 posted 09-26-2007 12:56 PM

It’s coming along nicely, Ethan. We’re watching.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

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