Author Topic: Demonstration of Mitered Chisel Box Construction  (Read 7219 times)

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Offline Steve Rowe

  • Posts: 830
  • Teach them safety when they are young.
Demonstration of Mitered Chisel Box Construction
« on: November 19, 2012, 05:57 PM »
Over the years I have built a number of boxes for various uses such as; chess boards, game storage, jewelry boxes and urns.  Depending on the intended use, I will use either a fitted or hinged top but than that, the basic construction of the box is the same.  

I was in the final stages of finishing these walnut and cherry boxes with fitted lids when this contest was announced;

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Last year, I completed this jewelry box for my granddaughter made from cherry, cocobolo, and purpleheart;

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For this demonstration, I will be constructing a box for storage of a set of Lie-Nielsen chisels.  Materials are Khaya (African mahogany), mahogany veneer, and ½’ Baltic birch ply.  All material is left over from previous furniture projects.   The Festools used in this demo are the MFT, MFT clamping elements, ETS-150/3, RO-90, MFK-700, CT22, boom arm, and the Pocket StickFix none of which were harmed during this demonstration.  

Over the years, I have used everything from just a plain butt joint to splines, biscuits, dominos and dovetail keys to secure the miters in box construction.  While this decision is largely determined by the tools available in your shop, I currently use either 4mm Dominos or Hoffmann dovetail keys to lock the mitered joints.  There are advantages and disadvantages to either selection.  The walnut boxes pictured above have 5/8” thick sides and use the Hoffmann W-2 dovetail keys while the jewelry box has ½” thick sides and uses 4mm Dominos.  If I use less than 5/8” wall thickness, I go with the Domino as the dovetail keys tend to blow out the sides if any thinner.  The challenge from using the Domino on the mitered corners is during assembly pulling all four mitered corners together simultaneously while registering the top and bottom in the grooves.  I chose to use dovetail keys for this project as the more delicate appearance for thin sides was not a consideration.  

I milled the material for the sides and cut the grooves using a shaper and adjustable groove cutter.   The top and bottom grooves on the inside face accept rabbets from the plywood top and bottom while the other inside groove is for the rabbet on the inside of the lid.  The groove on the outside face creates the rabbet to register the bottom to the lid after the pieces are separated.   Exercising care in the groove depth you can get a perfect fit with a just a couple of passes with a shoulder plane later.    

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I then mill a rabbet in the plywood top and bottom to obtain a near flush fit with the top and bottom of the side pieces as shown.  I like the side walls to stand slightly proud of the plywood to make it easier to sand flush later.  I shoot for a 1/32” or less visible gap between the ply and the sides when the box is assembled.  The sides were mitered on a table saw but a Kapex would have been just as good (if I had one).

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I used the ETS-150/3, MFT, and MFT clamps to finish sand the inside faces of all sides, top, and bottom through 220 grit.  I then apply finish (and stain if desired) to the inside faces prior to assembly.   It is easier to do at this point and any glue squeeze out inside the box will not affect the finish.  I used a 2lb cut of orange shellac for the finish and did not apply any to the plywood surfaces as I will use glue to apply dividers and hold-downs later.  I used Titebond II Extend to glue the box together and inserted the dovetail keys.  Wenge plugs were glued in place to cover the plastic keys.

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Now I sand the top and bottom flush to the plywood surface using the ETS-150/3 sander with 120 grit in preparation for applying veneer.

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I then veneered the top using the mahogany veneer with Unibond 800 adhesive with blocker to minimize seepage through the porous mahogany.  There is a very thin sliver of wood holding the top and bottom together that will break if excessive clamping force is used.  Use a shim to the outer groove to prevent collapsing your box (there should be no need to ask me how I know this).  

Sometimes I have extra help.  A visit to Nana and Papa’s house is never complete without a visit to the shop to do some ‘fix it’ work and help with a project.  The Festool pocket StickFix is so simple a 2 year old can operate it with no instructions.

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Festools are truly ambidextrous.

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Now it is time to fix the previous ‘fix-it’ operation with the ETS-150 (not shown) sanding through 220grit.

I then soften the sharp edges using the MFK700 with a 22.5 degree bevel cutting bit (bearing removed).  I really appreciate the extra wide base combined with the use of an edge guide on this router.  The fine adjustments on both the based and the edge guide make this tool almost foolproof and minimize possibility of gouging your nearly finished box.  The lower dust collection shroud was removed to clear the clamping elements.

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I then setup the tablesaw to separate the lid from the bottom using a cutoff from the sides to adjust fence position and blade height.  For blade height, I just leave enough wood to hold the box together and then do the final separation using a utility knife.  If your first cut goes all the way through the side, use a spacer and tape to hold the box together when making the final cuts.

The next step is to flatten the bottom of the lid and remove any mill marks.  I mark all around the surface to be flattened with a piece of chalk and secure the lid in the clamping elements.  I then use some PSA paper adhered to a cutoff of ¾” melamine with MDF core to sand the chalk marks away.  Since MDF is very flat, this ensures the bottom of the lid is all in the same plane making an excellent fit to the bottom.  The chalk just tells you when you have gone far enough since no one likes to sand more than necessary.

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I trim the rabbet on the box bottom with a Veritas miniature shoulder plane for a perfect fit.  Before trimming you should check the lid and remove any glue squeeze-out with a chisel.  Using this method, I can achieve a fit of virtually no side to side movement yet still be easy to remove the lid.

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I then put the top and bottom together and use the RO-90 to finish sand the sides being careful to remove the same amount of material from each surface to not expose any end grain at the miter joint.  The top and bottom are finish sanded with the ETS-150 and shellac is applied.

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Internal dividers are milled, sanded, finished, and glued to the bottom using a spacer to ensure even spacing.

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A hold-down is glue to the lid to keep the chisels from falling out of their compartments when the lid is closed and this project is complete.

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« Last Edit: December 26, 2012, 02:20 PM by SRSemenza »

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Offline tjbnwi

  • Posts: 6437
  • No longer in Cedar Tucky Indiana
RE: Entry 3 - Demonstration of Mitered Chisel Box Construction
« Reply #1 on: November 19, 2012, 09:00 PM »
Very nice and timely for me.  I'm making jewelry boxes for my daughters and daughter in law for Christmas. I WILL steal your method for one of them.

Tom

Offline ScotF

  • Posts: 2914
RE: Entry 3 - Demonstration of Mitered Chisel Box Construction
« Reply #2 on: November 19, 2012, 10:11 PM »
Steve,

Beautiful work!  Looks like you are educating a future Festool user too! 

Scot

Offline Tinker

  • Posts: 3764
RE: Entry 3 - Demonstration of Mitered Chisel Box Construction
« Reply #3 on: November 20, 2012, 08:10 AM »
Great project.  I am setting up my CMS over the next week and hoping to do a few Christmas projects something like you are showing.
I like you helper, or is he supervising.  Either way, he is already on a slippery slope. 
Tinker
Wayne H. Tinker

Offline Alan m

  • Posts: 3323
RE: Entry 3 - Demonstration of Mitered Chisel Box Construction
« Reply #4 on: November 20, 2012, 12:28 PM »
very nice,

i love the pic of the lathe on the inside of the box. very unusual. lol
"A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
- Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

Offline JerrySats

  • Posts: 155
RE: Entry 3 - Demonstration of Mitered Chisel Box Construction
« Reply #5 on: November 22, 2012, 10:13 AM »
Nice work on those miters , I like the design of the boxes , very simple and excellent workmanship .   Right now I have one question , what is that green material covering your vac hose , looks like it helps with the hose getting caught on edges .

Offline Steve Rowe

  • Posts: 830
  • Teach them safety when they are young.
RE: Entry 3 - Demonstration of Mitered Chisel Box Construction
« Reply #6 on: November 22, 2012, 02:19 PM »
Nice work on those miters , I like the design of the boxes , very simple and excellent workmanship .   Right now I have one question , what is that green material covering your vac hose , looks like it helps with the hose getting caught on edges .
Thanks Jerry.  The green material covering the hose is expandable braided cable sleeving.  I secured it to the ends with Rescue Tape.  It helps quite a bit to prevent catching the hose ridges on corners.

Offline jmbfestool

  • Posts: 6634
RE: Entry 3 - Demonstration of Mitered Chisel Box Construction
« Reply #7 on: November 22, 2012, 02:38 PM »
very nice,

i love the pic of the lathe on the inside of the box. very unusual. lol

Oh  I thought it was a Mirror
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Offline Alan m

  • Posts: 3323
RE: Entry 3 - Demonstration of Mitered Chisel Box Construction
« Reply #8 on: November 22, 2012, 03:10 PM »
very nice,

i love the pic of the lathe on the inside of the box. very unusual. lol
Oh  I thought it was a Mirror


no its state of the art marketry






EDIT> moved reply out of quote box
« Last Edit: November 23, 2012, 03:13 PM by SRSemenza »
"A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
- Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

Offline Steve Rowe

  • Posts: 830
  • Teach them safety when they are young.
RE: Entry 3 - Demonstration of Mitered Chisel Box Construction
« Reply #9 on: November 22, 2012, 11:58 PM »
very nice,

i love the pic of the lathe on the inside of the box. very unusual. lol
Oh  I thought it was a Mirror


no its state of the art marketry




ROFL - Yep, its a new invention of mine called chameleon marquetry - continually changing to blend in with its surroundings.
« Last Edit: November 23, 2012, 03:13 PM by SRSemenza »