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Secrets of the String Box Revealed

57380 Views 54 Replies 29 Participants Last post by  Ken90712
Intro and Invitation

This summer's projects have been boxes. Lots and lots of boxes. Somewhere along the way I got the idea of combining the wrapping technique with a simple inlay to see how hard it would be to align the lines all around the box. In other words, at the corners. Turns out it is not that hard to do. So I've been experimenting. I've posted the first completed boxes as a Project and will post more upon completion. The photos below give an overview of this technique and the pictures at the bottom show the idea taken to the extreme. I plan to expand on these in future installments. But in the meantime, and since I love to learn and 20,000 or so of you know more than me, I'd like to extend and invitation to give this a try. I don't have time to experiment with all the combinations so between me and a few thousand friends I'm sure we can come up with a few creative options. One idea is to combine this technique with the carved art box construction. It might render some real interesting and creative results.

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Laminate The Strings

I've prepped over thirty pictures so far so I tried to break them up into logical groups. The first part is to laminate the strings. For this box I'm using the re-saw technique and start with a thick piece of wenge (8/4) milled flat and square. I re-sawed some strips of maple and ran them through the drum sander for thickness and to remove any larger saw marks. I made a single rip cut on the wenge with a gentle random curve on the bandsaw and glued a thin strip of maple in between the two parts and clamped them tight. Try to keep the bottom of the boards flat as this will save some planing later on. Also, I avoid making any sharp or compound curves to make the glue up easier. One option if you make tight curves is to use thinner strips. You can double or triple up on the strips using the same wood type for a thicker line, or mix colors for a different effect. Another tip when crossing strings is to keep the ends of the block in alignment when clamping. Again, you can use a long clamp to keep it square (not pictured here). I got a question about whether I needed to smooth the surfaces of the curves in order to get a tight fit and sharp edges. No, not really. I just took them straight from the bandsaw to the clamps. I think the trick is to make gentle curves with a continuous cut and even feed rate. You can smooth the surfaces with a flexible sanding block or use a scraper. It could also be that the glue caused the maple strips to swell up and cover any small defects. Don't know.

I usually let the glue set up for thirty minutes or so then scrape off the squeeze out. Once it has set up awhile I simply make another random curved rip cut on the bandsaw and repeat the lamination steps until I have all the strips in place that I want. One thing to notice is I experimented with cutting curves that go from an end to a side, instead of end to end, thus cutting off a corner. The two parts will slip out of alignment in the clamps so I just use a long clamp end-to-end to keep everything in place. When all the lamination is complete I trim any flaps (maple strips) at the bandsaw or with a handsaw, the use normal milling techniques at the jointer, planer, and table saw to square it up and flatten and smooth the surfaces just like any other piece of rough lumber.

On this box I will grain match all the sides as well as match the strings. Next blog I'll do the re-sawing and book-matching.

Cut and resaw… a good way of making a different design… I noticed the tumbling blocks in the background of Pic #2…I that the one you posted a few months ago or is it a new one..
Here's the good part: wood wrap

Here's where the magic happens. After all the milling and ripping and glueing and re-sawing, we finally get to see if we can really match the lines all around the box. Sure we can. After planing each piece to thickness and ensuring the ends are square, open them up in a book-match. Draw a chalk line at the approximate width of each of the boxes' ends from opposite ends (this is just to identify the parts). The pictures below explain it better than I can in words. I like to label each piece clockwise A, B, C, D, so when the sides and ends are tilted up the letters are also right side up.

Now all you have to do is cut the same width from opposite ends of each piece. These will become the ends of the box. Don't make any more than these two cuts. This is where a thin kerf blade will help with the final result. Rotate each of the sides and stand them up and viola! Notice that the wood grain also lines up. Next time we'll cut the corners and the box takes shape.

The old cut and switch… well documented…
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