Weekend project

Jun 22 2014

Hey, I think I’m starting to get good at this woodworking stuff. I banged together this box for my Record 044 plough plane in well under 48 hours. And I don’t think I spent any more than 1 1/2 hours on it at any one time.

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I started on Friday night after work. I’d had a single cedar board hanging around. I bought it some months ago but never had a project in mind for it. I was itching to try some more dovetails, and my Record 044 is always just hanging out on the bench, threatening to fall off, so I did some quick measurements and started cutting some boards to length.

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I’ve never worked with cedar before, and I was disheartened at first. The stuff was just crumbling away under my larger saws. It’s seriously almost the consistency of particle board. I thought I’d never be able to cut a decent dovetail in this stuff, but gave it a shot anyway. With my 16 tpi Veritas dovetail saw, it actually fared pretty well. I got one set of dovetails done before the family dragged me out for dinner to celebrate Kris’s graduation from elementary school.

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Saturday morning I banged out another corner, then walked the dog. I had some other work to do during the day, editing some educational video, but sneaked downstairs a few times while stuff was rendering and got the other two corners done. None of the corners were perfect. Each had one or two gaps that would need filling. But given the material, I felt I did pretty well. While that was gluing up, I started gluing up some panels for the top and bottom. The wood I had was about two inches too narrow, so needed to do the glue up.

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Went out and did some shopping, came back, fixed the gaps in the dovetails and cut and planed the top and bottom and put some roundovers on them. This morning I applied a single coat of tung oil, and this afternoon I picked up some hardware – a couple of cheap hinges, a hook to close it, and some draw pulls repurposed as side handles.

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Just wrapped up the hardware installation, and called it done. It’s far from perfect, but it was a quickie, designed as a utilitarian shop box to hold an old tool, not a work of art. I’m really happy with it.

One thing I learned is that I’ll be in no hurry to use cedar again. Although it does smell lovely when you’re working with it, it’s like trying to do woodworking with Styrofoam. Not only does it crumble, break and chip out at the slightest provocation, it scratches and dents if you do much more than breathe on it. Huge plane tracks even on the lightest setting. In fact, the plane body itself would score the wood if you pressed down too hard. It was the first project I got to use a card scraper on. Although it didn’t make things perfect, the card scraper was the only way I would have been able to get a half decent surface on anything, so good timing on that. But even the card scraper caused problems. When I was scraping the end grain of the dovetails, any little bits of end grain that broke off would get dragged by the scraper, causing big scratches in the face of the box. Even just the manhandling I did on the box while installing the hardware put a few new dings and scratches in it. But that’s all fine. I figure with a few months in the shop, it’ll look like a 100 year old antique.

Next up, I think I’ll do a similar box, a bit smaller, for my most recent old tool purchase, a Stanley 71 router plane. It’s got a few extra parts and attachments that need somewhere they can all live together.

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One response so far

  • keith says:

    I should add that this project was all done with hand tools, save drilling the four holes to attach the side handles. I do have a brace, but it would be overkill for such small holes. A eggbeater-style hand drill is on my ebay list, so I can maintain my hipster elitist luddite hand tool user status.

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