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Curved top box build - Printable Version

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Curved top box build - Aram - 01-06-2019

I'm working on a challenging project for me. I decided to post a build-along.

I've been wanting to do this for over a year. I cycled through a few design ideas and settled on one that I like. I built 2 or 3 models of the box itself, out of cheap poplar to get the proportions right. The top is more difficult. I tried maybe a half dozen or more approaches to figure out how to even make the thing. The first few tries were also poplar. I wasn't even sure I had half a chance of getting tight joints using mostly hand tools. I'm still not sure! But the last attempt was with hard maple -- to simulate the unforgiving pearwood I will use for the real box -- and it came out ok. We'll see.

So, for better or worse, here goes. This is a hybrid build but focused on hand tools, so I get to spin CDs on a sweet shop stereo, while I beat up on a former pear tree.

The top is the hard part, but the box has to be built first.

Some music spinning while gearing up and prepping wood:
Richard and Linda Thompson, I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight, and Shoot Out The Lights
Big Star,#1 Record/Radio City
Rockpile, Seconds of Pleasure

My original choice was quartersawn sapele, but my eye kept drifting to the pearwood I bought years ago from Gilmer.  I have never used it before, so I sawed a few scraps (not bad, but not the easiest to dovetail), and tried hand planing it. It planes beautifully! More importantly, it's color and texture seemed to suit this box. I used up some electrons prepping the box sides, then headed to the bench.

Shooting the ends. Lie-Nielsen low angle jack plane on a Rob Hanson (Evenfall Studios) shooting board. Rob is a great guy and an excellent tool maker. Rob lost his home and shop in the Paradise fires, and has a GoFundMe campaign to help him rebuild.

Music: Marvin Gaye, Let's Get It On.

Rough shaping the curved ends with a bandsaw, template routing to final shape, and routing a gentle rabbet that follows the curvature. The box top will eventually nestle into these end rabbets. The ends are small, about 7 1/2" long, and securing them for safe routing took some figuring. I ended up using a pair of wedges.

Music to listen to in between the power tool noises: Steve Earle, Transcendental Blues.

The transition between the rabbet and the inside lip at the top needed to be soft and rounded, not square as a spiral bit would give. I used a radiused end mill (from Kokdak Cutters) to give this profile.

Don't worry, this is the most power-tool-heavy part of the build.

Next, I shot the ends of the long front and rear box pieces, and cut and chopped the tails. I messed up the first set, with a few of the narrow tails a touch out of square. No room to get a chisel in to square them up. Dang it. I put them on the shelf for a future (smaller!) box, and started over with new wood. Much better results! Pins on the end boards came next.

Ohio Players, Honey (great album, bad dovetails!)
O'Jays, Backstabbers
Jayhawks, Tomorrow the Green Grass, followed by The Bunkhouse Album
Howlin' Wolf, Chess Box

Obligatory dovetails in progress pics: tails sawn. I had to pare a little more than I care to, mostly me just steering a touch off vertical, but nothing too bad.

I was going to cope, then opted to bash them out with chisels.

Overall, the dovetails came out fine. I think there is one pin that is a touch narrow, but the rest look reasonably tight. And the best part: it sits flat! That's always a relief.

My daughter is spending most of the next 2 weeks of her college break with me, so these will sit in a stack until later in January. Then, I can add the bottom, get the box assembled, and move on to the real challenge -- the curved top!

For now, this.

More in a few weeks.

RE: Curved top box build - C. in Indy - 01-07-2019

It's looking good!   Can't wait to see the pear wood in full glory.

RE: Curved top box build - Arlin Eastman - 01-12-2019

I really like how it is coming out.  Looking forward to seeing more to.

RE: Curved top box build - Stwood_ - 01-13-2019

Lookin good

Cool  .............

RE: Curved top box build - Aram - 01-28-2019

Getting back to it, did a bit more this weekend. Fingers skinned at the lumberyard, but it was worth it. Not much hand work to show this weekend, though I did get to use my skew rabbet plane for the box bottom. It makes some of my favorite shaving piles.

Music: Allen Toussaint, American Tunes (superb record by the late, great AT).

I want to get to the top soon, but first, I needed to make a new plane specifically for this build. It's about 15" long -- so, I guess you could call it a jack -- but with a tight throat for precision shavings.

Music: Box Scaggs, Silk Degrees. Followed by a good chunk of Dwight Yoakam's catalog.

I've built a lot of Krenov-style woodies, and you never know how temperamental any given one will be. This one came together easily, and for some reason is extremely easy to adjust. Sweet shavings.

I'm not going to make it pretty, but I'm shaping it a bit. Here's some work with a home-built spokeshave.

Sidebar: It turns out Ron Hock's new Krenov blades are spec-ed flatter than before, and, according to Ron, are easier to dress. I believe it. The tradeoff is, they are no longer hollow ground. On a blade this thick, I prefer a hollow for sharpening. I dug up a forgotten blade I bought from David Finck, back when he was making and selling them. It came hollow, so I went with it. Good choice, except I forgot that he shipped them blunt, and I mean with a distinct radius where the sharp part goes. So I had to grind it anyway. Rolleyes Big Grin  Nice blade though.

That's it for this weekend.

RE: Curved top box build - Stwood_ - 01-28-2019

Krenov blades. Hmmm must be something new.
I built a Krenov back about 07-08. Were they available then?

RE: Curved top box build - Aram - 01-28-2019

(01-28-2019, 12:54 AM)Stwood_ Wrote: Krenov blades. Hmmm must be something new.
I built a Krenov back about 07-08. Were they available then?


{EDIT -- I thought Steve was giving me a hard time about my writing. My bad. See 2 posts down. }

RE: Curved top box build - Stwood_ - 01-28-2019

(01-28-2019, 12:55 AM)Aram Wrote: Hilarious....

Really? Hilarious that I asked if Ron Hock made Krenov style blades back then?

RE: Curved top box build - Aram - 01-28-2019

(01-28-2019, 01:22 AM)Stwood_ Wrote: Really? Hilarious that I asked if Ron Hock made Krenov style blades back then?

Sorry, Steve. I misinterpreted your post.

I don't remember how far back Ron Hock made blades for Krenov-style planes. Finck was selling his somewhere around that time -- perhaps then, perhaps a bit later. At some point, Ron Hock stepped in and has been supplying them to the Krenov school, to the general public (I mean, if the "general" public bought plane blades), and to Woodwreckers U (main campus is my shop). Before all that, I'm pretty sure most builders either cut down Stanley-type blades, or did their own metalworking.

What did you use for yours? Just curious.

Really? - Aram - 02-07-2019

Last weekend was a bust. I can't even account for Saturday. I spent half of Sunday trying to get my table saw to do what it used to do all the time -- instead of doing something different every time, which was its new hobby. I finally solved it, and figured it was time to walk away. So I watched the Super Bowl. Remember the Super Bowl? Nothing going majorly wrong, mostly, but nothing really happening either? Yeah. That was my weekend.

I did manage to mix a few colors of shellac and test them on scraps. Orange looks the best by far. I finished the bottom, and tonight I assembled the box.

"Oh my goodness!" I said. "Fiddle dee dee!" I said. "Well I'll be darned. Isn't that a shame." Is what I said.

I planed down the protruding dovetails...

and used my favorite smoother on the sides and ends ...

... and listened to Parliament's great album, Osmium. (I thought I was a big P-Funk fan, but I just discovered this gem a couple of weeks ago.) And contemplated.

I don't think I can repair the missing chunk. Not respectably, anyway. I had a conversation with my brain, and it thinks it would be happier if I did it right -- which probably means rebuilding the box. It's a little discouraging, but there are a couple of things I would like to change anyway. Maybe it's an opportunity. A stupid opportunity is still an opportunity. For one thing, I had intended the middle pins to be skinnier. A touch off each side will make a huge visual difference. And I made a minor error in one of my template, one I can adjust for -- but if I start over, I can fix the template and not hassle with the adjustment.

Maybe it's not so bad. I'll hang onto this box. Maybe I'll try coopering a lid for it someday and use it in the shop.