Monday, September 29, 2014

ltray lift template...

A woodworking teacher asked if I could help his class understand how to make the tray lift mechanism for Lucy's Jewelry box in my book Simply Beautiful Boxes. So I did the drawing here to help readers determine the exact size and arrangement of the parts. In order, left to right are shown, box side, tray side, back support arm, front support arm, and groove cut in box lid ends.

Click on the image to be able to see it in a larger size.

Make, fix and create...

Saturday, September 13, 2014

the start of boxes...

Walnut and linden resawn and ready for final planing
This time of year, I usually receive an order from Appalachian Spring Gallery that sets my box making in motion. It came yesterday.

I've spent enough time at school relocating my school wood shop, that my classes are going OK and my students are having fun and learning.

Folks have asked how I find a balance between writing, teaching and woodworking, and it is simply a matter of attending the squeaky wheels. Each part of the triad, writing, teaching and woodworking in my own shop is kept fresh by regular rotation. Keeping these three things in rotation keeps me productive and prevents boredom from getting in the way of my work.

First I compared the new order with what I already had in stock, and noted the kinds and sizes of boxes in the order that I could not ship. Then I set to work on those, making them in multiples, so that I'll have enough to fill the order and replenish my inventory.

The first step is to rip walnut and linden (basswood) into widths about 1/4 in. wider than the finished stock. Then I resaw that material into thinner stock that can be planed to final thickness. Then after one edge is jointed straight and smooth, the stock will be cut to finished width before being cut to final length. I keep the prices reasonable on my boxes by working in multiples, as many as 50 or 60 at the same time.

Make, fix and create...

Saturday, September 6, 2014

less than perfect miter?

A reader offered a question that is really baffling him...
"I am trying to cut simple miter joints on several boxes I am working on but am having an ongoing battle with slightly open joints. I do a test cut just like you show in your box making video, using a substantial piece of wood and get a wonderful outcome - no light between the test gauge and the wood - but after cutting the box's sides I end up with an open miter.  There may be a slight error at each corner which accumulates in one corner when I hold the box together by hand, or there may be one joint that is open.

"I use a miter sled fashioned pretty much like the one you use. One factor that has just occurred to me is that I am now using a thin kerf saw blade.  Do you suppose there is some deflection in the blade that introduces a slight bit of error into each cut? In the past I can't remember having this problem - and I am pretty sure I was not using a thin kerf blade at that time.  It is a pretty new acquisition. It was recommended by the Freud dealer for box and other small woodwork projects because of the superior, smooth surface left by the blade. It certainly does that well. My thinking is that when you are nibbling off the miter cuts at the end of each box piece there isn't anywhere near an equal pressure or resistance from wood on each side of the blade, perhaps allowing it to deform every so little. Maybe I need to build a new miter sled?"
I think there can be some noticeable deflection in a thin kerf blade. I've noticed it myself. Also, I've noticed that if any of the parts are not held tightly enough to the surface of the sled, and they are allowed to rise up slightly during the cut, it can lead to a slightly open miter. Not all woodworkers have the same strength in hands and the pressure from the blade during a miter cut seems to create a bit of lift, rather than just downward pressure that would find in a 90° cut. While I normally keep the blade as low as possible to make the cut through the wood and no more, raising the blade slightly may give it more of a downward force. Try it and see if it improves the fit of the miters.

Also, I assume that you are using a stop block to control the length of your parts. There are two things that normally go wrong with miters. Either one piece is cut to the wrong length, keeping miters from closing, or the angle is off.

I use a thin kerf blade for resawing stock and for making inlay, but for most cuts I use a full thickness blade with 1/8 in. kerf.

I'm not sure if a new sled is necessary, but they are easy enough to make.

Make, fix and create...