Orange Agate Box
#11
  
I am not normally a small box guy.  But after the success of last year's teacher gift box, and the mileage it got him out of his 3rd grade teacher, my son asked if he could make another box this year.  Time was fairly limited, but we decided to keep it very simple, with no miter keys or dovetails this year.  Just a straight mitered box.

I picked up some Orange Agate from Woodcraft after their 20% off Covid sale.  I've never worked with it before, or quite frankly even heard of it before.  On the outside, it looked like a fairly tight, dense grain with a creamy color, not unlike holly, and then a very red heartwood core.  I'm a sucker for contrast.  I didn't have any plans for it other than a vague notion of making some sort of stool, bench, or side table out of it.  But making a box for my son's teacher seemed like as good an idea as any.








Quick trip to the jointer-planer to clean it up. Noticed right away that it had lost that cream-colored surface, and started showing some signs of spalting and interlocking grain.







Had my son rip it to width:







Things got a lot weirder when I resawed the blanks for a four-corner book match.  A lot more spalting in the white sapwood.  Meanwhile, the red heartwood was on such a tight radius that even just taking out the width of the resaw blade, the grain didn't line up in a bookmatch.  The heartwood would be present on 3/4 of the width of the front face of the board, and almost non-existent on the back face, within half of an inch.  I don't know if that is a common thing with exotics, but I'd never seen it before.
The grain just didn't line up right for a bookmatch, so I decided to just align it to the upper boundary of the heartwood.  A little off the bottom of one piece, off the top of the other, until I had a reasonably decent match at each corner.  Then I ran a top and bottom groove for the lid and bottom on the router, and turned them over to my son to cross-cut:







Much to my pleasant surprise, the end grain planed like butter.  Beautiful shavings, minimal effort.  Because it was so smooth and I had cheap labor available, I didn't even bother pre-mitering the ends, just put my son on the miter plane and donkey's ear.









Next came glue, tape, and a lot of shellac.  I learned from someone on here that alcohol removes pencil marks, and I am now grateful for that knowledge.  I hate shellac.  I used it here because it dries fast and doesn't stink, but there is an art to applying it, and I have not acquired that art yet.  I did better this time, though.  Thinned it out of the can by about 50%, then used a rag instead of a brush.  Far fewer streaks than I had on last year's box, though I still ended up with some build-up and runs at the board ends.  Not as bad as previous efforts, but it reminded me of why shellac always frustrates me.


Math is tough. Let's go shopping!
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#12
  Re: Orange Agate Box by JohnnyEgo (I am not normally a ...)
Given that I couldn't truly bookmatch it, the corners still flow quite well. The sapwood is busy enough that it obscures the fact that it doesn't truly align.








Anyways, things I am pleased with on this one are the unexpectedly complex surface character and the whole thing going surprisingly fast this time. We spent three hours from the raw plank to the first coat of shellac, and a fair chunk of that was machine set-up. The longest part of the whole thing was planing the miters, and that took about an hour, of which there were several breaks. Shellac was a better, though still not great, experience this time as well. Got to learn a better technique at the ends of the boards. I am still never happy with how my mitered corners work out. This time I had them taped up perfectly, and seamlessly in the dry-fit, but they didn't stay that way when the glue dried.

The most important customer is pretty happy, though, and that's all that really matters:



Math is tough. Let's go shopping!
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#13
  Re: Orange Agate Box by JohnnyEgo (I am not normally a ...)
It is great you get your son involved in wood working. It is a gift that he will have for a lift time.
Nice looking box.
I don't understand it
I've cut it twice
And it is still too short
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#14
  Re: Orange Agate Box by JohnnyEgo (I am not normally a ...)
I had not heard of orange agate, either. I like the look, and it's a great story...to say nothing about the great looking kid and his results! Bravo, well done! One thing I'll mention: I like shellac and have used it for many eyars. But I still can't brush it...I can pad it and spray it (really sprays nicely) but give me a brush and a jar of shellac and I can quickly ruin the nicest project.
I started with absolutely nothing. Now, thanks to years of hard work, careful planning, and perseverance, I find I still have most of it left.
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#15
  Re: Orange Agate Box by JohnnyEgo (I am not normally a ...)
The box came out looking great. I also have never heard of that wood but I will look for it next time I have the chance. The colors and grain are really interesting.
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#16
  Re: Orange Agate Box by JohnnyEgo (I am not normally a ...)
Nice father-son build. Looks like your son takes his woodworking very serious. Thank You for posting it. With a little imagination the line between the heartwood and sapwood looks like waves on a beach to me. Make sure the recipient gets a link to you and your sons post. People are so often amazed by the dull rough look of a piece of raw wood and then the transformation to a beautiful object when finished.
I have always had good luck brushing out shellac. If I get brush lines I just thin it out some more. It dries so fast I can still get a good build even thinned out- normally three or four coats with a light sand with 320 between every other coat and pad on a finish coat. All easily done in one day. I just use cheap china brushes but do keep a tweezers handy for the inevitable hairs they shed from time to time.
Proud maker of large quantities of sawdust......oh, and the occasional project!
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#17
  Re: Orange Agate Box by JohnnyEgo (I am not normally a ...)
I wish I could have done that when my daughters were little and I am glad you are doing it with your son. ++++++++++
It is always the right time, to do the right thing.

Hi, I'm Arlin's proud wife! His brain trma & meds-give memory probs and has pain from injuries, but all is well materially & financially.  
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#18
  Re: Orange Agate Box by JohnnyEgo (I am not normally a ...)
Great Post!

Years ago I built a box with my son. He still uses it every day to store his keys and wallet. It wasn’t a hard project, but for me the most rewarding project ever done.
John
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#19
  Re: Orange Agate Box by JohnnyEgo (I am not normally a ...)
Great job to both of you!

The secret to shellac is to dilute what's in the can to approx a 1.5# cut. So, 1:1 shellac to alcohol. Zinnser recommends 2 parts alcohol to 5 parts shellac out of the can, which gives you a 2# cut. The stuff straight out of the can is usually a 3# cut, and it's too thick. When it's diluted, it'll flow better. It'll be self-leveling, and additional coats will build in a way that it's just like one thicker coat. (The alcohol solvent dissolves the surface of the previous coat enough that the added coat bonds like it was one coat to begin with.) A 1 to 1.5 # cut can be padded on vs. brushed if you prefer. Clean your brushes with alcohol. Use denatured alcohol, not isopropyl alcohol.
Still Learning,

Allan Hill
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#20
  Re: Orange Agate Box by JohnnyEgo (I am not normally a ...)
New wood to me too Have never seen it before either. Turned out great and the memories you both have are priceless. Looks like for a little guy that young he really stuck with it and didn't leave you to finish it yourself If they are willing it is never too young for them to help Yes that does mean it will take much longer, but that is not a downside.. MUCH better thn video games.
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