Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Rusling Box, Part Seven...

I had a bit of a rough day today, and it didn't have anything to do with the box. Occasionally I have migraines. Most of the time, I wake up with them. This morning was one of those times. It was bad enough that I stayed home from work to try and get rid of it - after two of my uber-expensive migraine pills, I finally got it under control.

So this afternoon, even though I still wasn't 100% after this morning, with just a disc to inlay, the finish to apply and the inside to complete, I was able to finish up the box.

The inlay is a brass disc made by Rab Gordon, proprietor of Rainnea Ltd and the maker of the dirk and sgian dubh going into this presentation box. It is a copy of the disc used for the pommel of the dirk and is Mr. Rusling's clan motto and shield/coat of arms. I received it in the mail just yesterday and immediately started fretting about how I was going to install it (cutting a perfect circle is not exactly what one would call "easy"). Fortune shined on me, though. The disc was just one millimeter under 2" in diameter. So I pulled out a 2" forstner bit, marked the center point of the diagonals on the bog oak in the lid, and drilled a shallow circle into the lid of the box. There was just the smallest amount of wiggle to it, but it won't move at all once I glue it in.

I enjoy the way wood looks when it is more natural. Although I do own stains and dyes and have something of a fondness for fuming with ammonia, I'm a much bigger fan of a few coats of a light shellac rubbed out with Renaissance wax. So I started that process with the first coat of the beige shellac I'd mixed up the other day.

While that was drying, I started on the internal divider. I usually make the divider out of the contrasting wood, but because this box is so long, I didn't have a piece of bog oak long enough, so I made it out of some slightly thinner white oak. Playing around a bit, I did a slight pillowing of the small tenon of the short piece. I rather like it; it makes me want to work on a Greene & Greene style box in the near future...

While the glue was drying on the divider and the shellac was drying on the box, I started on the inside liner. First I cut a piece of thick card stock to just a hair smaller than the inside of the box. Then I cut an over-sized piece of green (per Mr. Rusling's request) suede cloth and ironed it to smooth out the wrinkles. (Fabric Tip: Don't put the iron directly on suede cloth; it will melt. Place something over it, like a pillow case.) I sprayed one face of the card stock with 3M Adhesive Spray and pressed it onto the non-show side of the fabric, keeping a fairly even border on all sides. Then I took a ruler and a fabric cutting wheel and cut off the corners as shown.

Have you ever bought something without knowing just quite what you were going to use it for? Well, today I figured out a use for something I picked up at a garage sale last year. I'm not sure what made me grab it off the table, but as I was looking through some old Acme-thread C-clamps, I spied a small metal roller (probably from the printing industry, per the black ink residue on it). It had great heft to it because the roller is solid steel. Since I was buying four clamps, the guy threw the roller in for free. I brought it home and it found a place in the unorganized pseudo-shop.

I initially sprayed 3M Adhesive onto the back of the card stock to folded the fabric back up on it, but it was really messy and I quickly thought out a different method. I now use double-stick tape, instead. I can put it exactly where I want and it holds just fine. After I peeled off the first piece of tape backing, I was about ready to pull the fabric tight and press it down when I thought it would be useful if I had something to just roll it onto the tape. Then I remembered my steel printing roller and grabbed it. It worked like a charm!

At some point, I was able to get a second coat of shellac on the box. I've lost track of exactly when, though, per the multi-tasking and the migraine pills. After the shellac had dried for several hours, I rubbed the box and the divider out with some 320-grit stearated (non-load) sandpaper. Then I pulled out my can of Renaissance paste wax and started methodically rubbing out the finish. It's best to develop a routine for this so you don't miss any spots. I started with the inside of the base and worked my way around to the sides and then the bottom. Then I did the same thing with the lid and the divider.

Finally, I set the lining into the bottom. It slowly fell on a cushion of air, which tells me I had it cut perfectly to size. I don't ever attach the bottom with tape or glue. I figure if the owner wants to change it out for something else, they can easily pull it out and do so. It is held in place by the divider, which is a tight friction fit.

All that was left at that point was to put the hinges back on, screw in the lock, and attach the lock catch. I did find out the selvedge was mortised just a tad too deep, but I have a small bag of 5/16" diameter brass shims and one of those around each screw hole brought it up to the exact height I needed.

And then I pulled out the last items left in the bag the lock came in. Oh, boy. I'm actually supposed to hold this tack and hammer it at the same time? Thank God for a dad who is a doctor with a predilection for hemostats! I snagged a couple when I was at my parents' house last year, thinking they might come in handy. I put one of them to good use today!

Then I ran into another problem. The pins had rounded heads on them and when they were hammered in, I couldn't close the lid enough for the catch to engage the lock! So I tapped them in nice and tight with a nail set and a hammer and then filed them flush with a mill file. Issue resolved. Before I build another box with one of these locks, I'm going to go try and find some #1 screws. I didn't like the fact that one of the last things I was doing to this box involved hitting it with a hammer.

I had just a few more things left to do before I was done. I glued the brass disc into the lid (that took all of 20 seconds, and most of that was messing with getting the super glue gel out of the bottle). I then signed the bottom of the box and indicated what kinds of wood I used (Reclaimed Am. White Oak and Irish Bog Oak) in its construction.

As a final step, I went through our storge shelves until I found a box of stuff from my own wedding two years ago. I cut a small piece of Campbell tartan ribbon, trimmed the ends with a nice little "V" cut and tied it to the key. It didn't look quite as good as a bit of silk ribbon might have, but it doesn't look bad.

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