Friday, April 17, 2009

The Rusling Box, Part One...

So I was able to get started on the latest presentation box this past week. This box is a new size for me, designed to hold both a dirk and a sgian dubh. The buyer decided upon a reclaimed white oak box with bog oak accents and inlay. Working with reclaimed lumber created a little more of a challenge to try and find a board in my stock that was long enough and wide enough for the lid. I have plenty of boards that fit the bill, but for this one, I wanted very little "character" to detract from the focal point (to be discussed later).

After some minor delays and one or two setbacks, I started to see progress. That is always motivating! And yes, I did remember to bring my camera (er... Dana's camera?) into the garage/basement/wherever I happened to call "shop" at the time.

I started off by cutting the sides to length and mitering the corners. It's a pretty simple process... in theory. Really, it's a pain in the butt to make sure you have your angles right. I still don't always get them exactly right, which means I need to work on my jig-making skills. But I do put the fullest of efforts into doing them the best I can, and that's really all I can ask of myself.

In this first picture, you can see some of the character you get working with recycled wood. There is a nail hole in one of the side pieces and some old worm trails in a few of the pieces. I'll do nothing to hide any of these details in the finished box.

After the miters are cut, I ran grooves for lid and bottom. I really wanted to try out my new/old Record 043 plough plane (that I've yet to write a blog entry on), but with the shop in a state of, well, non-existance, and the plane still in as-purchased condition (i.e. not sharpened), I felt it most wise to just cut the joinery on the tablesaw and call it done.

Once the grooves were cut, I measured and cut the lid and bottom (room for seasonal movement with the lid, very little extra room for the plywood bottom).

Before I glued it all up, I wanted to do as much of the inlay in the lid as I could (I have the bog oak, but one part is still en route from Scotland). That way, if I mess it up too badly I can just start the lid over instead of starting the whole box over.

After cutting the bog oak to proper dimensions (thanks to my friend, Vic, for letting me use his bandsaw to resaw the bog oak to its 1/8" thickness), I took measurements to properly place it in the center of the board and lightly scored the edges with a marking knife. I then carefully deepened the lines after removing the piece of inlay. This is one of the tricky parts because white oak is so grainy that the knive can take a path of its own if you're not careful.

Once I have it marked up enough, I darken an 1/8" section of the wood just inside the border. That is a guide so I know where to stop routing. I don't ever try to route all the way to the edge; that's what chisels are for! After routing out most of the area, I finish up with chisels (sorry, I got a little anxious at this point and forgot to shoot a picture).

I don't know if you can tell in this picture, but the white oak I'm working with looks and acts a little different from white oak you might buy from a lumber yard today. The biggest difference is that the grain is less-pronounced. Anyway, that was just an aside...

After champhering the back of the inlay for an easier fit (I found a microplane works well for this job), I test fit the inlay. Satisfied with the fit, I spread glue in the recess and clamped the inlay in place.

For an inlay in white oak, I'm pleased with this result.

It was late by that point, and I had glue to dry, so I decided to call it a night.

More in a bit!

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