Saturday, March 28, 2015

Tiny boxes...

I am getting ready to start a book about making tiny boxes. Tiny boxes in my mind are not scaled down to a size in which they are useless. I simply use the term to describe a range of size smaller than what box makers normally make. They can be used for any number of things, but because they as so small, they invite close examination, and thus require a higher degree of precision in their making.

As with my other books, Tiny Boxes will offer a variety of boxes using a variety of techniques, ranging from the known to the unknown, from the simple to the complex, from the easy to the more difficult, and from the concrete to the abstract. So, in that I believe that you can discover just as I have that the principles of educational Sloyd can apply to more than just woodworking education.

A box making article in Fine Woodworking by my editor friend Matt Kenny has raised a controversy as to whether or not mechanical fastening of some kind is required on small boxes. Matt contends that if miters are sealed with a diluted wood glue allowed to dry before a box is finally glued together, the miters will hold for years without additional keys or splines or other forms of reinforcement. He published an article in the last issue, that raised challenges from readers that were addressed by him in the most recent issue. Of course the answer to whether or not glue alone will suffice, is  it depends, on size, on what factors it will face in its life, and how long you want it to last.

Of course what happens during the life of a box, in terms of what kind of conditions under which it is used, the expansion and contraction that takes place under varying humidity, have effects on the integrity of the joints. Matt insists that he has made boxes using his preferred technique that have lasted 10 years. Is that enough? We each make the decisions that match our own objectives.

I should note that size matters. Small boxes suffer less strain from expansion and contraction of wood.

Make, fix and create...