back to the box #5: my trip on the waterslide

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Blog entry by scottb posted 04-18-2007 06:28 PM 2258 reads 0 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 4: Box 3 - Recipe Box Part 5 of back to the box series no next part

Finally got to the point where I could try the waterslide transfer decals out.

David’s instructions were much clearer than what came with the product.

Having already used a different first coat, than in his demo (oops), and not being sure of compatability issues (not to mention wanting to wait for a few coats of spray finish to dry) I tried using them unprotected (as per the manufacturers instructions).

They worked great – slid off perfectly. I didn’t find them too thin/fragile – I was dealing with postage stamp size pieces – and they seemed ridgid enough. One issue was with it sticking to the brayer, so I rolled over a towel with one, and rubbed really well with my fingers and towel with the other. They both adhered well, and remained in place overnight!

Moving ahead with finishing (shellac) to protect these, I find that I can still see them more than I would like (like tape on wrapping paper, it’s clear, but you can still see it easily enough)

The one on cherry (above) was less noticable, the texture of the mahogany (below) let some light (and air pockets) show from below… clearly presanding to create a slurry to fill the voids would have been a good idea.

In the right light, the label looks great. Subtle, hardly there… move a little bit, and it’s looks like a mistake.

Perhaps this is where prespraying would have come in handy – to help make them more invisible. On some of David’s labels, he put a border around the art/text… (in the how-to, for example) that would help delineate the edges of the decal and make them less noticable. On some of his other projects you can’t see the clear portions of labels at all. I’ll try that (prespraying) next.

Another idea – albeit one I’m not too fond of – is to make a larger decal, the size of the bottom of the box lid, so there is no visible edge – this was the solution we’d use in college when putting text over a photo (old school – in the pre-photoshop days)

Here are my finished boxes (1 and 3),

You might notice that the lid has curled a bit more on the mahogany one since I assembled it. I’m also not thrilled with my shellacing job. It dries so fast! I remember having an easier time with varnish on my pub table. Didn’t have all the bubbles and sanding from most of my attempts at poly. Getting some good advice in the finishing forum topic I posted yesterday. Going to try the BLO/MS/Varnish finishing treatment on the poplar box (unfinished, at the bottom of the stack (above photo) and see how that works with the labels. Fortunately I’ve inquired about getting some makers marks, leaving me another personalization option. Of course theres always a sharpie!

Future boxes will likely be finished before assembly (at least interiors), some of the steps (in the book instructions) don’t neccessarily allow for that, so I may get slowed down,... but I’m going to see what I can do to make things easier or better from start to finish. While I’d like to turn out 21 perfect boxes… this is really a class for me, a chance to learn everything I can about so many different aspects of woodworking.

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

13 comments so far

View RobS's profile


1334 posts in 5641 days

#1 posted 04-18-2007 07:38 PM

I think they look great Scott, I’m sure the flash of the camera adds to the visibility of the edges…

-- Rob (A) Waxahachie,TX

View David's profile


1969 posts in 5473 days

#2 posted 04-19-2007 01:29 AM

Scott – Very cool! I have been following your box series with interest. They are absoulutely beautiful and I can only imagine the exponential leaps that you will make with this exercise – much like making a dovetail joint a day for 30 days.

Your decals look great. This is another area of practice and exploration! The border does help hide edges. I usually trim the decal tight to the edge. I ahve also made decals without a border and the edge is bearly perceptible. I also make sure the application surface is as flat and smooth as possible – in other words an oil finish on open pored wood is not as good as a flat filled surface. I have also learned to very gently (and only once!) run the back edge of a fingernail around the edge of a decal to smooth down the rough or elevated surface from trimming. I do this once before butting the decal in water and once after it is applied and dry. You have to practice this as it is “seat of the pants feel” and easy to dislodge the decal which means starting over. I alsways make one or more than needed just in case. What a great way of commemorating your boxe series!

I usually do a lot of wet sanding with MicroMesh and naptha (wearing a respirator of course!).

I love these boxes!



View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 5649 days

#3 posted 04-19-2007 01:33 AM

This reminds me of being a kid building models and the stickers that had to be soaked in water…maybe I’m showing my age.

View oscorner's profile


4563 posts in 5645 days

#4 posted 04-19-2007 04:26 AM

That’s a great blog. Thanks for the link to David’s project. I miss that one somehow? I’ve gotta make some of those myself.

-- Jesus is Lord!

View scottb's profile


3648 posts in 5662 days

#5 posted 04-19-2007 04:35 AM

Rob, I wish that was the case…

Don’t feel too bad Dennis, I”ve used those decals on model airplanes too.

Thanks for those extra pointers David,

Definately still worth investigating Os… give em a try, I’m not giving up on them, so much potential!

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

View frank's profile


1492 posts in 5541 days

#6 posted 04-19-2007 11:10 AM

Hi Scott,
I like the look of the poplar box in your blogging story….!

Well, okay….I like all your boxes here, it just that I like see folks also branch out and use poplar. Great wood and the heartwood is usually a green-brown. I even had it where their were streaks of black, purple and yellow among others….

I used to use a lot of poplar, and have also used it for building toolboxes. Have you ever tried spar varnish for finishing poplar? I like it and it will last for years in all elements.


-- --frank, NH,

View scottb's profile


3648 posts in 5662 days

#7 posted 04-20-2007 04:49 AM

Thanks Frank,
I wonder if this piece of poplar was an anomoly, with no yellow or green in it at all. I would love to use some more of this in other projects.

I’ve never used, but likely will, spar varnish as of yet. I understand how that differs from regular varnish, but I don’t know what difference there is (if any) between varnish and alkyd varnish. (are they both simply urethane?)

I learned today that my local mom&pop hardware store will no longer carry the P&L #38 (that is favored by woodworkers) because they are no longer satisfied with the product (I hope they mean sales, not the product itself)

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

View WayneC's profile


14359 posts in 5432 days

#8 posted 09-25-2007 05:31 PM

When is the next box in the series?

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

View Karson's profile


35295 posts in 5735 days

#9 posted 09-25-2007 05:34 PM

Yes Scott you’ve been slacking off.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View WayneC's profile


14359 posts in 5432 days

#10 posted 09-25-2007 05:44 PM

Nothing like a little peer pressure to get some progress… lol

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

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 5634 days

#11 posted 09-25-2007 05:49 PM

I just seen this pop up in the pulse. I missed it the first time.

Very nice, I like the decals, I plan on getting a kit myself. My new printer uses waterproof ink, so it should work good.

I also think your boxes are looking great!

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 5297 days

#12 posted 09-25-2007 09:07 PM

Yass, we’ve been kep’ waitin’ long ‘nough. More Boxes. The decals seem like a good idea s soon as you get this perfected I’ll get some. So, you need to build more boxes.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View scottb's profile


3648 posts in 5662 days

#13 posted 02-24-2008 03:51 AM

Nothing like taking, almost a year off from a project, eh? ooops.

Well, my punishment on the next one, is doing a box in a box.

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

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