wooden case issue...

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Forum topic by marinus posted 03-31-2016 12:24 AM 953 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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7 posts in 1325 days

03-31-2016 12:24 AM

Hello! I’m Ian from Alaska. I’m new here. Looking forward to absorbing some wisdom…

First off, I am new to woodworking. I’ve built a few items with some success, but I’m still very much an amateur. I am building a wooden case for my bagpipes because I hate all of the plastic and nylon ones they sell online for $200. Seems crazy to me. So I have been putting this oversized briefcase together from 3/8” ash. Box-joints on the corners and a rabbeted lid and bottom to nestle into the sides. During the glue-up of the four sides the two long sides developed an inward bow because of the clamps I used. When I attached the lid and bottom and glued them in, the bow disappeared. However, once I cut the lid off on the table saw, the bow reappeared and now the lid and the body of the case don’t line up well. The two long sides bow inward about 1/8th of an inch underneath the lid. For now I have a piece of scrap wood inside spreading the sides back out to their intended shape, but every time I pull that brace out, the sides bow inward again. Any way I can get the sides to stay straight and true? Just clamp it to a straight surface for a long time, maybe? Any advice would be great. I’ve made a few small errors along the way, but the bowed sides is the only one I can’t seem to fix.

I can try to post photos later if that would help.

-- -Ian

9 replies so far

View jerryminer's profile


960 posts in 1979 days

#1 posted 03-31-2016 02:20 AM

3/8 material, unsupported, will always be prone to moving around. What are the dimensions of your box?

What kind of hardware are you using? (hinges, if used, will help keep the back and lid in alignment. Draw catches on the front may help there.

-- Jerry, making sawdust professionally since 1976

View marinus's profile


7 posts in 1325 days

#2 posted 03-31-2016 04:19 AM

Hi. The box is 24 inches by 13 inches by about 8.5 inches deep. The bow in the wood is from a ratchet strap clamp that was poorly designed. The ratchet mechanism, when tight, pushed inward against the boards and bent them. They were straight as arrows before that. Lesson learned. I was wondering if installing a lip inside the lid, like and interlocking lid on a cigar box, would keep things aligned.

-- -Ian

View JBrow's profile


1368 posts in 1457 days

#3 posted 03-31-2016 04:45 AM


The interlocking lid should re-align the sides when the lid is closed. However the bow may reappear when the lid is opened. Also, closing the lid could end up being a never ending frustration.

An alternative is to add trim to the box by applying some moulding, the thicker the better, along or near the top outside or inside edges of the box. If applied outside, moulding could also be added at the bottom to balance the look (since the bottom probably keeps the lower edges of the sides straight, bottom moulding would be purely decorative). The moulding could simply be ¾” x 1-1/2” square edge stock glued in place. This would, of course, alter the look of the box. It could also require either remaking the lid or enlarging the lid you have. If this method might work for you, temporarily clamping pieces of wood the same thickness and width you would use for moulding to the sides would confirm if this idea would work or not, before cutting or gluing anything.

View marinus's profile


7 posts in 1325 days

#4 posted 03-31-2016 05:20 AM

Hello again. Thanks for the advice. This is basically a variation on a briefcase design, though more like a small chest in size. Its meant to be carried around, traveled with, etc. so I think having various trim on the outside of the box would look a bit funny and interfere with functionality. I was thinking something along the same line, however. I might glue in another layer of 3/8 lumber on the inside of the board that has the worst flex. That is the side that the carrying handle will be attached to so it will allow me to use some larger, more sturdy screws to attach the handle.

I used 3/8” stock for this project mainly because I’m going to be carrying this thing around a bit and if I used 1/2 inch or thicker wood it would have weighed a ton. As is, it will weight quite a bit.

I’m planning on making the lid open a little past 90 degrees and turning it into a music stand for practicing and lining the interior of the box with leather (or at least realistic vinyl) to make it a little softer on the pipes. Brass hardware all around and some stout brass corner protectors I ordered from England. Should be really nice if I can pull it off.

-- -Ian

View BinghamtonEd's profile


2298 posts in 2907 days

#5 posted 03-31-2016 12:53 PM

You could attach a straightedge square to the box sides, and use a flush trim bit to cut back a recess where the front bows in, to allow the top to close. Your material will be slightly thinner where the bow it, but recess should be small enough and ash is plenty strong.

But, if this is a recent thing, I would put that scrap back in to get it back to true, and leave it for a few days to a week, and see if a little time helps. With the scrap in there, you could also try putting a damp rag over the area, and ironing it on both sides to see if a little steam with coax it back, and then let it sit some more.

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

View chiseler's profile


125 posts in 1426 days

#6 posted 04-02-2016 05:36 AM

Is there enough room inside the box to glue a piece of 1×2 to create the inner lip?

-- Scott.Triangle,NY Becareful and don't forget...They cut meat too! Ask me how I know

View AlaskaGuy's profile


5414 posts in 2847 days

#7 posted 04-02-2016 05:56 AM

Hard to tell but these look like 1/2 material to me. The bottom one looks like it has a inter lip. I’m thinking BB plywood for the sides and 1/4 BB ply for the top and bottom.

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View marinus's profile


7 posts in 1325 days

#8 posted 04-02-2016 06:43 PM

Hard to tell but these look like 1/2 material to me. The bottom one looks like it has a inter lip. I m thinking BB plywood for the sides and 1/4 BB ply for the top and bottom.

- AlaskaGuy

Hey, a fellow Eagle River-ite! Eagle River-an? Not sure how to say that.

Thanks for posting those. The bottom one does look like it has a lip. I considered that earlier but I think I don’t want to lose the interior volume. I picked the worst side and glued in a piece of 3/8 pine matching the sides dimensions. Pine is light and it won’t add too much to the overall weight. I think it straightened that side out a bit. I’m also hoping, as someone said earlier, that the hinges and catches will help keep things lined up long term. Here’s a few pics: no hardware yet except the hinges. I’m going to glue in some nice looking vinyl and I made a little interior box with a sliding lid for reeds, hemp, and all the other stuff I have to carry around.

-- -Ian

View shipwright's profile


8397 posts in 3335 days

#9 posted 04-02-2016 09:28 PM

If the problem happened at glue-up it sounds like the bowed side has caused the corners to be glued at less than 90 degrees. If that is the case you won’t likely get it to straighten out on its own. Straightening with a straightedge and router as Ed suggested would be the best bet. You can always add a little matching shop made veneer to make up the thickness.
If, by chance, you used hide glue the fix would just be a warm wet cloth on the offending corners, proper bracing and a re-clamp.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

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