Custom Keepsake Box

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TWEET'S CUSTOM KEEPSAKE HEIRLOOM BOX(S)

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After getting my woodworking table saw sleds calibrated, I finally got around to starting a custom keepsake heirloom wood box for my bride of forty-seven (47) years.  I decided to use quilted figured maple for the box and walnut for the base and trim with a walnut lid with a maple, walnut, maple inner band and a nice piece of crotch figured walnut for the inside panel.  I had the crotch walnut air drying for about 8 years and hopefully it will be stable enough to use.

I tested out my crosscut slide using some 3/4 inch birch plywood and it was pretty close and made a box to contain the Dowelmax jig system that I recently purchased to add dowels in all the forty-five degree miter joints since end grain wood does not glue that well and wanted the extra strength of the wooden dowels.  The Dowelmax system is one of the best woodworking products I have ever used and totally stoked with its top notch quality and performance.  I will add pixs that I have taken along the way and didn't photo every detail but there are plenty to view.  Click on below thumbnail pixs for a larger screen view of setting up the sleds and doing some test runs on the birch plywood and also testing out the Dowelmax doweling jig. 

Below is first test box using birch 3/4 inch plywood and using it to store the awesome Dowelmax jig.  I have one Dowelmax set up just to install the vertical drawer type forty-five degree dowels and another complete Dowelmax for all the other dowel installation needs:

After testing out the calibration of the sleds of which I found out very quickly that just using an accurate miter gauge (Starrett C359) purchased used off EBay to adjust your table saw blade tilt will get you very close to your target but the real acid test is when all four (4) miters come together without a visible gap showing and corners are ninety (90) degrees.  This is a trial and error process until you get it set as perfect as possible.  However, the table saw tilt set screw is not that accurate since you can torque the setting and a few thousands of an inch from perfect makes a big difference.  Also, the stop set screw is located where sawdust can easily get onto the blade tilt mechanism inhibiting accuracy and a dawg to reach to clean.

Next was to surface plane the piece of figured quilted hard maple down to about 3/4 inch and rip the width to around 4.5 inches and cut the maple to the lengths with a forty-five degree miter on each end.  The miter saw table sled comes in handy since you can use an adjustable stop to have each side , front and back cut to the same length.  If one length is shorter or longer, you will not have a "perfect" forty-five (45) degree miter joint rendering a "perfect" ninety degree right angle.  Since end grain glued is not that strong, I drilled three holes in each end of the miters to insert wooden dowels for the extra strength which for this application is probably an overkill but I want this box to last a very long time for the next generation, etc.  I made an additional stop sleeve for the drill bit to bottom out in the drill chuck because I know that set screws can and will come loose and destroy a part when critical depth drilling is required and Murphy's Law never sleeps.  Everything went real well until the actual glue up of the box of which the Titebond III glue that I used was too fast setting; e.g., not enough open glue time and the box ended up being a little out of square of which I tried to push it into square but the glue had already done its thing and will have to deal with that later.  Since then, I have received a bottle of Titebond II extended time glue which is working out great.  I used a 3/16 inch thick piece of plywood for the bottom of the box which should be strong enough.

After the box was assembled, it was time to start the bottom rails to function as feet and give some decorative design element to the basic box shape.  I used walnut of which I surface planed to thickness and then ripped to the required width.  I used the Porter-Cable 3.25 HP table mounted router with a molding bit to make a pleasing shape to the edge of the base trim and also routed a rabbit groove to the inner edge so the box would recess down into it about 1/4 of an inch.  I didn't do those sequence pixs; guess I was "brain dead" a little; grin if you must.  After getting the profile for the base trim routed, I then band sawed the scallops out on the bottom edge of the trim and then mitered each piece to the correct length.  I also drilled each corner for a wooden dowel using the Dowelmax doweling jig and then glued the base trim miters.  After the glue dried, I sanded the band saw marks out using a Dremel tool with a 3/4 inch diameter drum sander and also a 1.5 inch diameter drum sander on the drill press.

I wanted a walnut trim around the top of the box that extended outward to the same size as the base trim and sized the walnut and headed to the router table.  I used the same router bit I have used so far for the molding but changed the orientation of the wood to vertical instead of horizontal.  The same doweling procedure was used for the edge molding miter corners to add strength to the miters.  I used my forty-five degree crosscut slide to make the miter (picture frame type cuts) that I use for trimming the ends of my turkey box call lids.  Below is an achieved pix:

With the above three components finished for the box, whereas the lid being the main focal point for this box and wanted to showcase the figured walnut crotch wood that I have had on hand for about eight (8) years air drying.  I planned to do a custom turkey box call utilizing this wood but after thinking about how thin the box call wood would end up, I changed my mind since wood of this type is prone to become unstable and will splinter and blow out when routed and/or carved as thin as the soundboards on a turkey box call.  I used a piece of walnut and strips of curly maple wood for the contrasting lamination of the border around the walnut figured crotch wood.  NOTE:  This wood gets its name because the wood is harvested from the base of the tree or tree trunk that has formed a crotch, two pieces of wood from the main trunk of the tree which normally leaves a very distinctive swirl pattern as evidenced by the pixs below.  This was a tricky process getting the center figured walnut crotch wood to size since as I stated earlier, the box was slightly out of square and had to make adjustments that would render the miter joints and glue joints pleasing to the eye, even though not perfect!  The walnut crotch wood was approximately 2 1/4 inches thick and shaped like a large wedge and used one of my straight cut table saw sleds to get the wood cut to feature the crotch/swirl pattern.  I planed the top and bottom of the wood and then ripped it in half length wise making two cuts on the table saw with the saw blade extended to its maximum reach and flipped the piece end over end to make the final cut rendering two pieces about 7/8 inch thick.  Each piece was then planed down to the same thickness as the walnut border which was around .730 thousands of an inch.  Normally, you would build the mitered frame around the center piece but I elected to do it the hard way and cut the crotch to fit as close as I could after the outside frame was mitered and glued together.  I used epoxy to glue the center crotch wood in place and scored the inner edges deep of both the frame and the center wood where epoxy would get into each piece and hopefully make a strong bond keep it from moving around.  I later applied some epoxy glue with a walnut colored powder to fill in a few hairline cracks in the surface of the crotch walnut and will keep check on it and apply the filler as needed if any cracks reappear.     

Below is the box with the base and upper molding trim not glued in place:  The base will be stained a darker walnut color since there were some sap wood in the side and rear piece and the trim below the lid will be stained also.  I want be able to stain the lid due to the contrasting curly maple wood but it is dark enough to finish natural.

Below is a pix of the lid with some of the sanding dust blown off, whereas you can see the beautiful figured swirl/feather pattern of the walnut crotch wood

I glued the base and upper trim in place and allowing it to dry as I upload the pixs.  It will then be time to mortise the lid and upper trim of the box to accept the solid brass hinges.  Below pix with the box upside down while the glue is drying.  I am seriously thinking about inlaying a medallion I made for my bride and myself back in the middle 1970s that has my copyrighted script Porter logo inlaid into a round piece of Gabon ebony which would look great on the front of the quilted maple box.  I believe with a clear coat of finish applied, there will be very good contrast between the dark and lighter colored woods.  After the finish is applied, I will add a piece of felt to the bottom of the box and leave the inside wood as is to highlight the quilted maple grain pattern.  The figured walnut crotch wood reminds me of a feather with the matching north and south swirls similar to a book matched pattern.

My friend Robert Webster of Hamlet, NC, retired Captain from the NCDOC stated I needed one more clamp on the above box.  You know I had to grin.

Web published by Bill aka Mickey Porter on 02-27-15.

Today is February 28, 2015 and got the hinges attached to the box and it was a little difficult trying to route a mortise for them freehand.....I hogged out one of the mortises, in fact the first one, way too much in length because I couldn't follow the line I had scribed.....my bad for sure but it is recoverable and on the inside of the box too.  I got a better light source and was able to get a much better fit between the hinges and the box upper trim.  It would have been easier I do believe, to just use a chisel and cut the mortises in but I had to do it the easy way which turned out to be the hard way without a routing jig/template.  The upper edge of the box was a little too narrow to use my small Dremel tool and router base and had to fabricate a much large platform with enough real-estate to have room to keep the router flat to the surface.  I could have clamped a large width block to the inside of the box and accomplish the same thing but sometimes "we can't see the forest for the trees", grin if you must!  Click on the below thumbnail pixs for a larger screen view:

I plan to use a different procedure on routing mortises for the hinges on my next box and use the table mounted router with a "flipping story stick" which aids in setting the stop blocks for the length of the mortise and also the width of the cut.  This technique is used by Doug Stowe who authored, Basic Box Making available from Amazon.com of which my lovely sister presented me with a copy years ago when I started making custom turkey box calls.

This is what the box looks like ready for a coat of sanding sealer and a few top coats of lacquer or polyurethane and will apply it when the weather gets warmer with much less humidity in the air. 

I believe the above Custom Keepsake Box for my bride will really pop when a clear finish is applied to it and become a cherished heirloom.  My bride is really impressed with this keepsake box and glad I finally got around to making something special for her with my own two hands.  This box was a learning experience and my next one will be much improved.  I already have the sides and bottom together of a nicely figured curly maple box and plan to use the same base, upper trim and lid design since I already have enough figured crotch walnut for several more boxes.  I will probably make the upper trim of the box under the lid a little more bolder in design.

Web published updates by Bill aka Mickey Porter on 02-28-15.

CURLY MAPLE AND WALNUT KEEPSAKE BOX NO. 2

While waiting for the weather to get warmer and dryer, I started another box using curly maple and walnut trim.  Plan to use the same lid design but with a little thinner width curly maple, walnut, curly maple inside border and a much bolder upper molding trim.  I will add a few pixs along but will not do an entire photo sequence since everything is basically the same construction wise.  Below is what I have done so far:

I made the upper molding trim using two different router bits and used one of the same bits to make the scalloped base molding.  Instead of attaching the molding onto the top of the box, attached it to the sides which gives the box a lower profile and more pleasing to the eye in the overall proportion.  There are established formulas for such but didn't do the research and winging it on this project.  Also, 3/4 inch thickness for the sides is an "overkill" but I want the box to last a life time and you are not transporting the box around anyway.  The overkill characteristics must be part of my DNA since that theme has carried over into other areas my entire life....grin if you must!  I might add a drop in removable small tray too.  The lid will overhang the front and sides about 1/4 inch which adds additional depth to the upper molding trim and also provides a gripping surface to open the lid without routing a recess in the upper trim molding for that purpose.  The lid components are cut to their final dimensions, holes drilled for the dowels and ready to sand before the glue up assembly.

I like the wider outside walnut border with the smaller width white/black/white laminations which actually yielded a larger inner figured crotch walnut panel.  Below lid pre-fitted before the sanding and glue-up.

   

The Titebond II Extended Time glue just about  set up too quickly before getting all the dowels and edges with glue applied and had trouble getting the parts to come together with the clamps but managed even though the fit was not as good beforehand.  I have to rethink how I want to glue the inner panel in place since the individual dowels take some time aligning and you just don't push the pieces together since the miter joints have dowels at a right angle.  You have to rock the sides into place because of the placement of the dowels and elongate a few of the holes to aid the process.  I might have had the miter dowels too close to the inside panel and will try them more centered into the miters on the next box which should give more latitude in aligning all the dowels.

I contacted Dowelmax and the inventor Jim Lindsay emailed me and stated in this type of panel, all the dowels need to be aligned in the same axis which means I will leave out the dowels in the sides of the inner panel since there will be no problem with just glue securing the side of the panel to the border.  This will be a tricky procedure and will give it a test run on the next box. 

I have experienced one bad problem on my part and that is dropping the mitered corners of the various parts and when they make contact with a solid surface, they nearly "always" land on the knife edge of the corner leaving a noticeable ding or dent in the wood.  I use the table saw real-estate for a flat working surface which is cramped up and need to clean off the work table adjacent to the table saw that I use as an out feed table to hopefully reduce dinging the parts.  The past few days when I am handling a mitered component, I talk to myself saying something like, "Ok Butter Fingers, watch what you are doing."  Murphy's Law never sleeps!

Web published updates by Bill aka Mickey Porter on 03-04-15 and 03-05-15.

Below box with some initial sanding done to the lid, etc.: 

After the sanding is done, it will be time to install the hinges and plan to test out my table router set-up on some scrap wood and see how it goes before committing the box and the lid to the router table.  I am using a pair of back flap solid brass hinges which are heavy duty since the lid has some substantial weight to it and like I normally do, I go a little bit "overkill" on many things.  I try and purchase what I can from Woodcraft in Matthews, NC since they have an excellent selection and inventory for the woodcrafter plus a knowledgeable friendly staff and about a 45 minute drive from our home.

Web published updates by Bill aka Mickey Porter on 03-07-15.

Below is pix of the above box with a special inlay I commissioned David Nichols, Custom Pearl Inlay of Malone, NY do for me.  I planned to use his inlay as a pattern and cut one myself but he set the bar far too high for this one and no way I could come close to the quality of work that he did.  I routed a cavity for the inlay and the box is ready for fitting the hinges and some final sanding before I glue the composite inlay into the cavity and start spraying some lacquer.

Below is the pix that I emailed David Nichols of my bride to be that was taken in December 1963 to use as a pattern for the above inlay:

She is still the love of my life after 47 years of marriage and I still call her my bride!

Web published updates by Bill aka Mickey Porter on 03-10-15.

INSTALLING HINGES WITH A "FLIPPING STORY STICK" AND ROUTER TABLE

I mentioned earlier about the procedure that Doug Stowe, author of Basic Box Making uses to install hinges using a router table and a gauge called a "flipping story stick", whereas I wanted to give it a try and test run the procedure on scrap material before committing to the special keepsake box I am building for my bride.  I will confess right off, that I was a little more than apprehensive even after a trial test run because it doesn't take but one mess-up to ruin a project that has come together pretty good so far.

I will add thumbnail pixs to help manifest how the flipping story stick method works.  The first thing is to cut a length of material the exact length of your box and/or lid and using the hinge you plan to use, place it on the story stick the distance you desire from one end of the stick and scribe around it.  Using your table saw, notch away the area where the hinge will rest and have the slot tight enough to where the hinge will not fall out; a good snug fit.  After the "flipping story stick" is fabricated, you adjust your router fence for the correct width of the hinge and using stop blocks that will control the movement (length of the mortise route for the hinge).  I used a solid carbide spiral 1/4 inch diameter router bit for this purpose.  You use your hinge to adjust the router depth to match your hinge thickness.  For some reason, most of the smaller box type hinges have the outer portion of the leaf about ten to twelve thousands of an inch thinner than the rear near the barrel of the hinge.  After you calibrate your router table set up using the fence and stop blocks, you simply do a blind route by having your box and/or lid against the left stop and lower the box and/or lid down onto the router bit which in essence is drilling a hole and this will prevent any chip out and move the lid or box back and forth until the cavity is routed out which is controlled by the fence and stop blocks.  I will make a set of right angle stop blocks that will locate off the fence miter track for the next hinge installation.  After you route one side for the box and the lid (if both are the same length), you flip your story stick over and adjust the stop blocks for the other side of the box and lid.  You finish off the corners using a square corner chisel or a regular chisel.  

Click on below thumbnail pixs for a larger screen view and hopefully show what I am trying to explain:

I didn't take a pix using the corner chisel and regular chisel but it was a piece of cake at this point with a big relief in the anxiety level since everything went as planned with no mishaps.....grin if you must! 

On this particular box where I have the length of the lid overhanging the box to give additional depth perception to the custom molding that I made, I had to use a small piece of wood the correct width to calibrate the stop blocks for the lid only.  Everything came together and fit like a glove.

To help with in the hinge installation, I used a self-centering drill guide made just for # 5 and # 6 flat head screws and adjusted the length of the 7/64 inch bit to where it would not drill through the outside of the molding since there isn't a whole lot of extra real estate present.

I used epoxy and some black powdered filler and glued in the custom inlay and will do a final sand tomorrow before applying a sealer coat and multiple coats of lacquer and lightly sand down between coats.  It is best to wait at least 24 hours to give the lacquer time to cure, however I have applied as many as six (6) light coats of thinned lacquer on musical instruments in a single day before wet sanding after curing out a couple days to build up a good base coat of lacquer.  I have applied as many as 20 coats of thinned lacquer to musical instruments with the majority of the finish wet sanded down before polishing it out to a mirror finish.  A few pixs while the weather was in the 80s and the wood grain is really beginning to come alive after a coat of sanding sealer on the curly maple box and started a couple coats of lacquer on the quilted maple box.  Click on thumbnail pixs below for a larger screen view:

One of my favorite resources for box building is Mike's Heirloom Boxes and he builds some beautiful one of a kind custom heirloom boxes for sale. 

Web published updates by Bill aka Mickey Porter on 03-11-15.

STARTING BOX # 3 AND # 4

While waiting for the weather to clear up again and get out of the mid 40s, where it will be feasible to start spraying more coats of lacquer on the first two boxes, I started on a couple more boxes.  I am using the same walnut trim design for the base and the trim underneath the lid and using birds eye maple for box # 3 and added a banjo wood purfling that was used on Gibson pre-war Granada banjos referred to as a stitch purfling.  Click on the below thumbnail pixs for a larger screen view:

  

I finished gluing up the lid components for the birds eye maple box and the box structure for # 4 which is curly maple.  NOTE:  I installed dowels using the Dowelmax jig system as before and worked a little quicker.  After applying glue to the dowel holes and mating surfaces, I then installed the dowels and there was enough open glue time left, whereas this change of procedure worked out very well.  

Web published updates by Bill aka Mickey Porter on 03-19-15.

I decided to make a better clamping system while setting up the router using the "flipping story stick" and below a few pixs taken.  I already had some extra 5/16 T bolts, threaded knobs and plenty of scrap wood and it didn't take long to get it going for a test run on routing the hinges on box # 3.  At this stage of box building, you don't want a slip on the router table for sure. 

As depicted by the pixs, the box and/or lid is trapped between the right and left stops and also the fence which controls the width of the route for the hinge, whereas the right and left stops controls the length of the mortise.  If you are doing more than a single box, this is the way to do it, whereas you have to make a "flipping story stick" for each different size length box and/or lid.  I had one small mishap installing the hinges.  This lid was about .020 inches thinner that my other boxes since I added the extra walnut strip which goes next to the birds eye maple center panel and had to plane the outside lid trim down and didn't adjust the length of the snappy hinge bit and the 7/64 inch diameter drill bit came through near the outside of the molding cut which is on the back of the lid but some epoxy and filler will hide the "boo boo" enough to "not stick out like a sore thumb".  I had to shorten the four back brass flat head screws about .032 inches.

The fabrication of these boxes require extensive usage of the router table for all the custom molding and trim used and the simple pivoting fence works much better and faster than trying to adjust each side of the fence parallel to the router table top and/or edge.  The adjustable fence system that came with the Bulldog router table was the first thing I removed from it and drilled a hole through the router table top and the left hand side of the fence and made a simple "pivoting stick" which is far superior and only have one adjustment to deal with for fence adjustment.   

Web published updates by Bill aka Mickey Porter on 03-24-15. 

BOX # 3 READY FOR SANDING SEALER

The past couple days I have managed to get a few hours in on box # 3 and # 4 and a few pixs:

Box # 3 being the birds eye maple, got its final sanding and ready for a coat of sanding sealer.  Box # 4 which is another curly maple and changed the lid design on it.  I added an additional radius on the top of the lid and also routed a groove for a curly maple raised lid.  I cut the maple lid rabbit portion out on the table saw and added a 3/8 inch radius to the top edge.  The raised lid adds a tremendous amount of  visual perception to the height even though it is only raised about 3/16 inch but looks more like some of the ole time wooden coffin box lids.....grin if you must!  I am still not 100 percent satisfied with my miter joints after gluing them and loose a little accuracy of the miter fit during the glue-up process and will have to figure out the best and easiest way to get a better glue-up.  The Dowelmax jig is really getting a workout on these boxes which have a pile of forty-five (45) degree miter joints.

Below box # 3 and # 4 pixs below:

I added a 1/4 inch radius to the bottom molding/base of box # 4 and it has a good visual appeal and plan to use it on the rest of the keepsake boxes I plan to build.  The thickness of the base trim was also increased to 7/8 inch thickness and gives the base a more bolder look which matches the upper lid trim and lid design with increased visual balance.

Web published updates by Bill aka Mickey Porter on 03-26-15.

MAKING SOME PROGRESS AND A NEW LOOK ON THE BASE DESIGN

I decided to add a couple more router cuts to my standard base trim and pleased with the new look which more resembles a traditional foot design.  Below is pix of the new base/trim using a 1/4 and 3/8 inch radius router bit in addition to two other router bits used for the inside rabbit and a standard Roman Ogee molding bit:

Click on below thumbnail pixs for a larger screen view:

I thought I had cured "Butter Fingers" from dropping things but dropped lid # 4 and naturally it fell on the concrete floor and landed on one of the back corners making a nice round shape of the point instead of the square point.  I had to do some sanding and match the other corner of the lid the same.  Guess I need to continue to remind myself to hang on tight when handling the keepsake box components when not over the carpet on the workbench! 

Box # 4 is ready for the installation of the hinges and waiting on the glue to cure/dry after gluing the base trim to the bottom of the box.  I plan to spray all four boxes with multiple coats of thinned Mohawk lacquer when the weather conditions are right since I have to spray outside without the benefit of a dedicated spray booth.  Maybe I can get it done before the insects get to flying and swarming....grin if you must! 

Web published updates by Bill aka Mickey Porter on 03-29-15.

Box # 4 got a coat of sanding sealer today, March 30, 2015:

BOX # 5 BIRDSEYE MAPLE

With box # 4 waiting for the top coats of lacquer along with the other three boxes which have a few coats of lacquer and sanded down ready for additional coats, I plan to "fire up" my Lynx L-300H HVLP 1 quart spray gun manufactured by CATechnologies and use some left over Mohawk lacquer from my last banjo project.  I glued up box # 5 which is another birds eye maple of which I already had the sides, back and front mitered, sanded and ready for the installation of the dowels using the Dowelmax Classic doweling jig which is a dream to use.  Earlier, I got 5 sets of boxes cut out and mitered the forty-five (45) degree corners and set them aside and have three sets of the curly maple left to put together.  I haven't decided on what the lid design will be for box # 5 but might use a raised walnut center panel and go with my standard walnut, curly maple, walnut and curly maple outside lid trim design since I have enough already glued up.  Below a few pixs:

 

In the past when I owned a mail order business for musical parts and accessories from 1969 through 1978, I manufactured both metal and wood components and would do the parts in lots varying in quantity up to 150 or more units for the larger metal items which helped distribute the set-up cost.  However, with these individual keepsake/heirloom boxes, it is a little more difficult to do in lots since basically each one is a little different and would have to standardize the width, height and length of the box which I did on the last five sets of wood.  Curly maple and Birdseye maple is also somewhat pricy and I have to pay retail cost plus shipping and that is another determining factor for the box construction.  The extremely hard Northern birds eye maple doesn't want to cut that well especially on the forty-five (45) degree miters using the sled and even with a new blade it is easy to "burn" the wood.  My standard thin kerf 80 teeth crosscut table saw blade wanted to wander from a perfect cut and switched over to a general purpose saw blade with 40 teeth with a full .125 inch kerf which was dull but worked much better than the 80 teeth crosscut blade.  I am having the 40 teeth combination blade re-sharpened, however I am going to order another combination blade, hopefully one that is a better quality blade, maybe Forrest, Freud, etc.  

I am having a "ton of fun" with these keepsake/heirloom boxes and I can tell an improvement in my woodworking skills with each box but I do have a few glitches in my system of which I am trying to work out and "Work Smarter, Not Harder" which is open for debate.....grin if you must!

Web published updates by Bill aka Mickey Porter on 03-30-15.

SPRING WEATHER FINALLY ARRIVED AND IT FEELS GREAT

The ole cliché about the month of March "Comes in like a roaring Lion and goes out like a Lamb" is still pretty much true for this year, although the wind the past couple days have really been doing its thing.  We have a large set of Wind Chimes hanging from roof overhang over our deck and they are tuned to the key of G and give off some beautiful music. 

Below are few pixs taken as I am cruising along with these keepsake/heirloom boxes and one of my friends related to me that was a lot of set-up and jigs for them but I already had over half the slides made for my custom turkey box calls.  My real passion if I can call it that, is making jigs and fixtures in order to get to the point of producing a product whether it is in wood or metal when I plan to make more than a few and the mental challenge is what I enjoy the most.  Routine production of a product is not my "cup of tea" although I don't necessarily dislike such which may sound somewhat paradoxical.....grin if you must!  Well, as usual I got side tracked a little and below the pixs I mentioned above: 

I increased the depth of the 3/8 inch radius router cut on the box base trim and satisfied with the look.  It is a little risky routing the radius after the base trim is fabricated but with the scalloped design, I just can't route the groove ahead of time before trimming to length since it would cut into the scalloped design.  So far I haven't damaged the couple bases that I have done this way but as I have stated before, "Murphy's Law Never Sleeps."  Box # 5 is ready to glue the top trim molding and base along with final sanding everything and a coat of sanding sealer.  The pix of the Dowelmax jig shows the 1/8 inch spacer in place for the 7/8 inch thick stock that I am using on the border of the lid with the birds eye maple center raised panel.  The miter sled for the picture frame type cuts is getting a good workout on each box too!

I planned to start spraying the four boxes already completed sans the final top coats of finish outside but the pine tree pollen is falling now and might not be a good idea unless I can catch a windless morning, etc., and get the boxes back inside as quickly as possible.  I have one curly maple box frame ready to glue up and gluing the miters so far is one of the challenges to keep the corners as perfect as possible since they are cut pretty accurate but I loose some accuracy during the glue-up process.  I ordered a couple Merle band clamps featuring special corner blocks with self adjusting jaws which should help me with the glue process and on other projects as well.  If not, it want be the first time I have wasted some hard earned cash!  

Web published update by Bill aka Mickey Porter on 04-04-15.

BOX # 5 READY FOR SANDING SEALER

The walnut and birds eye raised panel box is ready for a coat of sanding sealer.

Below, one coat of sanding sealer applied and not buffed or sanded down yet.  04-10-15 

The close up pix of the raised panel lid reveals the tight birds eye grain pattern which should be "beautimous" when finished with clear lacquer.

Web published updates by Bill aka Mickey Porter on 04-07-15.

BOX # 6 CURLY MAPLE WITH BOOK MATCHED WALNUT RAISED LID

Being retired, I get extra fun time in, whereas my bride and I are getting out much more since the cold weather and the "flu crud bug" had her staying inside for around 5 weeks except to get out on each Friday for her weekly hair appointment and a couple times she wore a mask as a health concern for others.  We are catching up on eating out at our favorite restaurants of which none are located in our "One Horse Town" but we enjoy the ride and being out and about together!  I have also managed to get some time in on Box # 6 and decided to use up the walnut, curly maple, walnut, curly maple lid frame material I have on hand and do a book matched raised walnut panel.  I have a couple end pieces of some 3/4 inch thick walnut and ripped the first piece in half on the table saw but that is a high risk procedure of which can easily translate into a kick back with possible injury.  The second piece,  I exercised more common sense and safety precautions and set up the Jet 14 inch band saw which has a 1/2 inch width blade with 4 teeth per inch.  I rigged up a taller fence to match the height of the walnut board which was a little over 4.5 inches x 9.25 inches and it worked out great.  The saw didn't bog down and the finish cut was nearly as good as if it had been run through the planer or jointer; might be a little exaggeration but not too much.  Pix below of the set up:

I glued the book matched walnut pieces to a 1/2 inch thick birch plywood panel the same size as the walnut and the glue-up came out great!  Click on below thumbnail pixs for a larger screen view: 

The book matched walnut reminds me of the shape of a large bell....grin if you must!  I also got in a couple of the Merle band clamps and put one of them to use immediately.  From what I observed so far, the clamp is doing what it is claimed and designed to accomplish.  I do think the small red plastic self-aligning flexible jaw inserts that fit into the right angle jaws are flimsy and puny looking and noticed they did flex/bend under pressure when I tightened the adjusting screw mechanism since the edge of the lower lid that makes contact with the plastic inserts is a little over 1/8 inch in height which isn't a lot of contact area.  I elevated the lid with a piece of 1/2 inch birch plywood that had a piece of aluminum foil over it so the plastic flexible jaw inserts would make contact in the center of the self aligning flexible jaws inserts.  I tend to over kill or over engineer things that I make or design but that is just my own DNA for sure....another grin is in order.  I will take out the removable self aligning jaw inserts and just use the die cast ninety degree blocks instead since they really aren't needed for ninety degree clamping.  I will give it a test run after the glue up above has dried.

I have all the components ready to glue up which includes the upper trim and the lower foot/base trim, whereas the basic box is already glued up and sanded.

Tomorrow, I will glue the trim and foot/base in position and final sand the lid and will be ready to attach the hinges.

Box # 7 is another curly maple and have the box frame and bottom already doweled and glued.  Box # 8 has the pieces cut and dowels drilled but not sanded or glued yet.  As soon as the pine tree pollen gets gone, I should have about all the 8 boxes ready to do some final spraying lacquer and then to another project or two with plenty of yard work to get on.  I am forgoing turkey hunting season this year and maybe my friends will harvest a couple birds and I can enjoy some Wild Turkey Nuggets or Wild Turkey Breast Stir Fry or two.

Web published updates by Bill aka Mickey Porter on 04-10-15.

BOXES UPDATE

I got just a little woodworking in today but mostly serviced my Lawn Tractor changing the oil and filter, sharpened the blades and greased all the fittings and then got some grass cutting time in.  There was plenty of time in the afternoon for my Bride and I to get some swinging time in under the shade of the white oak tree that is beginning to leaf out nicely.

I got box # 8 curly maple shell in the Merle clamps of which I removed the plastic self-aligning jaws from the die cast corner brackets and it seems to work ok.  I did a little touch up on the base trim miter joints with a mixture of Epoxy 330 and some Mohawk powder on box # 6 and will final sand everything in a day or two.  I will also get the upper trim and lower base rail/feet cut for Box # 7 and think about what lid design I want to do.  I have a couple glue ups left of the walnut, curly maple, walnut and curly maple lid material; enough for one more lid and will probably do a raised curly maple lid with it. 

I was hoping to have some Wild Turkey today, the two legged kind with wings and feathers on it and not the bottle version but my hunting buddies went empty on opening day.  I settled for some cubed venison loin strap and mushroom gravy and have it simmering as I type......grin if you must!  Will serve it over a bed of sticky rice with Mary B's Tea Biscuits.

Web published update by Bill aka Mickey Porter on 04-12-15.  

MERLE CLAMP USAGE

Below a few pixs of using the Merle clamp for gluing the lower and upper trim on box # 7 and the clamp works pretty good:

I started on the lid design and decided to use a piece of the walnut left over from Box # 6 and glue up another book matched raised panel; pix below:

I band sawed the board in half and have a pix of it posted on here earlier.  I glued the edges together and will laminate onto a piece of birch plywood for a backing and run it through the planer to get it the correct thickness and then cut all the walnut trim miters to length that already has a 1/4 inch slot routed into them for accepting the raised panel.   

Web published updates by Bill aka Mickey Porter on 04-18-15.

BOX # 7 UPDATE

Click on below thumbnail pixs for a larger screen view:

My bride likes the raised panel insert with the wood grain "rays" coming down instead of the orientation on the left which reminds me of turkey tail feathers spread while in a full strut mode.  I didn't take a pix of the raised panel where I cut the rabbit edge using the table saw.  With the figured wood, there is a less chance for chip or tear out using the tables saw versus using the router table.  The only thing left to do will be some final sanding and glue the base trim to the box, install the hinges and it will be ready for a coat of sanding sealer.

My curly maple supply is fast dwindling and have used the best already.  I believe my Bride's Box # 2 has some of the nicest curly maple and walnut grain pattern and only befitting that she has the best of the best!  Each box has its own unique elements and I personally like all of them.

Above Box # 7 has a coat of sanding sealer buffed down ready for finish clear coats when the weather is more conducive; e.g., less humidity and wind.  The book matched walnut raised panel  should really pop when clear coats are applied and buffed/polished out. 

Web published updates by Bill aka Mickey Porter on 04-22-15 and 04-26-15.

BOX # 8

Box # 8 will be my final keepsake heirloom box in this series unless I decide to do other ones in the future.  I am currently "time sharing" between some yard projects and other things needing to get done and have a couple more wood working projects down the pike aka bucket list and hope to get to them before fall of the year arrives when it will be time to get back into the ole platform tree stand with the bow and arrow, The Lord willing of course!  My woodworking skills have really improved on this project and need to keep similar projects on the burner, whereby my eye/hand coordination skills will stay in focus and in tune.

I haven't decided on what lid design to use, however I do have one walnut lid molding cut like Box # 5 which has the grooves already routed for a raised panel and might see if I can do a raised panel with a panel inside the panel or something a little different.

Web published updates by Bill aka Mickey Porter on 04-26-15 and 05-01-15.

BOX # 8 LID DESIGN

I got a chance to work on box # 8's lid and got the lid completed except drilling dowels for the forty-five (45) degree miters.  I had a piece of slightly figured walnut 3/4 inch stock long enough for the insert book matched panel and ripped it in half on the band saw and have enough to do a couple type insert panels.  Pix below of the temporary attachment to an oak board long and thick enough to go through the thickness planer without bursting the grain pattern:

I ran out of Scotch one inch width double stick tape and used a small drop of Titebond II glue in each corner and let it set an hour or more and it held ok.  I have some tape on order and couldn't wait until next week.....grin if you must!  I used the bottom panel of which both have interesting wood grain patterns to them and came from the same board.

Below a few thumbnail pixs taken and the more or less free hand routing for the insert "raised type panel" was the difficult part.  My antiquated late 1960s Dremel tool had barely enough power to run the small 1/4 inch width two fluted carbide tipped flat bottom bit and had to switch over to a small trim router with a solid carbide spiral bit to finish the job.  I cut the 45 degree corners in using a chisel and it worked out pretty good.

I have to drill for the 3/8 inch diameter dowels using the Dowelmax jig for the forty-five (45) degree miters and do a finish sand on all the parts and it will be ready for glue up.  I could have accomplished the same visual effect by using a thinner panel and just gluing it in place on top of the curly maple slightly raised panel but I had to do it the hard way again which seems to be my regular MOA (method of operation) on this project....another grin is in order for sure.  Below pix of the semi-finished lid:

Even with the make shift small wood fence on the Dremel router base, it was difficult to keep the router bit from wandering away from the finish edge when the router bit encountered the tough curly maple element which is harder than the non-curly portion, it would dig into the maple panel which required a lot of sanding to true the inner edge.

If I planed to do more than one box or two of the same identical design, it would be feasible to make a routing template for both the insert and the wood panel using a guide bushing but that is a pile of work to get it done very accurately.

Web published updates by Bill aka Mickey Porter on 05-02-15 and 05-03-15.

LID GLUE UP 05-04-15

Got a chance to do a little box work this morning and drilled the holes in the walnut outer miter corners for 3/8 inch dowels, a few pixs below:

I will glue the inner walnut book matched panel in place after I do a final sanding on the lid.  I normally let the Titebond Glue stay clamped about a day or at least overnight although it sets up much faster than that; still old school I guess.  Got a little yard work accomplished this morning and the weather is fantastic outside; should be 80 plus degrees today.  A few mornings ago, it was in the lower 40s and our furnace kicked on to get the chill out of the home.

This keepsake heirloom box(s) project is coming to a close and box # 8 is about finished.  Only thing left is glue in the inner walnut panel in the routed cavity on the lid, final sand the box perimeter and upper trim, glue the lower foot trim assembly in place and install the hinges.  A coat of sanding sealer and it will be time to get out the spray gun and work on all the boxes as if on production.  Some of the boxes already has several coats of finish lacquer on them but the spray equipment will work a lot faster than the lacquer in the can and less expensive if I don't count the current cost of the high dollar lacquer thinner.

Web published updates by Bill aka Mickey Porter on 05-04-15.

ALL BOXES READY FOR FINAL COATS OF LACQUER

A couple days ago, box # 8 was finished and got a coat of Deft sanding sealer.  Yesterday, I sprayed a coat of lacquer on all 8 boxes and this morning I lightly sanded them down to start the next coat of lacquer.  The ole spray gun, Lynx 300L HVLP hadn't been used since my last musical instrument was completed in November 2010 and have been finishing my turkey box calls with Deft spray can sealer and lacquer which works out ok for a single box call or half a dozen or so.  The spray gun does provide a much better finish since it can atomize the lacquer particles to a very fine mist which reduces the orange peel look.  These boxes will not have a finish like on a musical instrument where a dozen or more coats of finish is applied and then wet sanded down after a good base build up of lacquer which renders a deep highly reflective finish.  Below a few thumbnail pix taken:

 

Web published update by Bill aka Mickey Porter on 05-14-15.

UPDATE:  Above boxes except box # 1 quilted maple aka my OJT (on job training) keepsake box given out as Christmas gifts; see this page.

Web published update by Bill aka Mickey Porter on 01-09-16.

MODIFIED HEIGHT ON BOX # 1

I kept box # 1 of which was the first box in the series of eight (8) boxes that I made simply because I wasn't happy with the height proportions in relationship to the length.  It wasn't difficult to cut about one inch from the top of the box underneath the lid but I forgot that I had two small nails hidden beneath the upper side banding to hold it into alignment while the glue dried.  My freshly sharpened carbide tipped circular saw blade made a little racket when contacting the steel nails but too late to do anything about that; guess another sharpening will take place sooner than expected....grin if you must!  Also, I tried to miss the wood dowels that are installed between the forty-five (45) degree corners of the box which took two passes on the table saw which wasn't a big deal since the upper banding hides the connection but I originally was planning on putting another piece of molding out of walnut that was left over but was too thick and decided to keep the original banding which already had the lid hinge openings routed and drilled.  The custom made walnut molding wasn't safely feasible to attempt to trim and common sense took over; imagine that!

Below a couple pixs taken, however I still had my camera white balance set for an outdoor setting in the manual mode; my bad on this one which changed the image color:

Below pix of the dowel fitted into one of the corners of the box which is normally hidden from view:

  

Web published update by Bill aka Mickey Porter on 03-21-16.

BOX # 1 HAS A NEW HOME

My friend Calvin Jones of Wadesboro, NC liked the above box and purchased it for a special gift on 04-30-16 and now all eight (8) of the custom heirloom boxes have homes.

Web published update by Bill aka Mickey Porter on 04-30-16.  

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