Saturday, September 19, 2009
"Me Box" Part II
After plowing the grooves, it was time to cut the sides and ends to length. Which meant it was time to come up with actual dimensions. Since I wanted the bottom and the top to be made without gluing up wider panels (this was supposed to be a quick and simple one day project), and as my stock was 1x10 (actual width 9 1/4") I set the width of the box at 8 inches. This left enough stock for the sides to be 18".
I laid-out the first side, and cut it to length. First problem. I was out of practice, and the cut was pretty bad. It needed to be squared up with a plane.
Second problem. I was using one of my newer planes, a Stanley 62 bevel up jack plane. It cuts beautifully, but I had a dickens of a time getting the end square to the face. I'd check it with the square, plane a bit - way off! Huh. Plane again, and - way off in the other direction! Now, I'm not St. Roy, but this job I can usually handle without really thinking about it. What was going on?
After much frustration, I think I finally figured it out. It was the plane (always blame your tools - just kidding!). I should clarify. It wasn't something the plane was doing; it was something it was making me do, or not do in this case. When I use my regular #5 jack plane, I extend my index finger and rest it on the edge of the iron just in front of the tote. On the #62, the iron is much lower (no frog) and without the iron to rest my finger on, I was not extending it. I was using a full four finger grip on the tote, and without that finger extended, my feedback was lacking; similar to depth perception using only one eye. It's weird how such a small detail can have such a huge, and incredibly frustrating impact. I'm sure I could learn to compensate in time, but my solution for this project was to just extend the index finger out into space - it felt odd, but it worked.
Between the sawing and planing fiascoes, my 18" side was now shorter than 18". No worries, I just used that part to layout the opposite side - as long as they were both the same length, the box would be square.
With all the parts cut to size, I needed to create the corner joints. I was tempted to go with dovetails, but I was way behind schedule (oh so easy to do when your schedule is not realistic in the first place) and decided I would just go with my standard pegged rabbet joint.
First, I marked the rabbets with a gauge:
Then I cut the shoulder with a dado saw - this one is an old Disston and you control the depth of cut by adjusting the bar across the blade:
I could have used a rabbet plane, but on cross grain work they require a nicker to sever the grain, and as the nicker cuts deeper than the iron the nicker cut is visible on the final joint. This isn't a big deal if the joint is hidden, but on this box it will be right on top, and I didn't want that nicker cut detracting from the clean joint.
So, after cutting the shoulder cleanly with the dado saw, I just used a chisel and mallet to split off the wood forming the cheek:
After that it was simple to clean up the cheek with a shoulder plane. Wait! Can I do that? Wouldn't that require a "cheek plane"? Oh English!
I made the floating panel for the bottom by cutting the stock to width, planing rabbets along the grain (rabbet plane) and sawing/splitting/planing rabbets across the grain:
Then, as time was running out, I got the box glued and clamped without major malfunction:
Time was up, and I didn't have a box yet. Although, that was actually very fitting for a "Me Box" - one of my defining characteristics is absolutely no "time reality" as my wife likes to call it.
I was going to have to find more time - hmm, maybe the gutters don't really need to be cleaned...
Concluded in Part III