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A Box For A Box


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I hope a decorative box qualifies for a journal. They are fun to build and often times are a challenge, as in this project. Building boxes is what got me interested in Woodworking.

I recently purchased this miter box for small parts. The original shipping package was approx 3” tall x 6” wide x 13” long.


As it relatively small and could be damaged or lost in my shop, I decided to build a storage box for it. Someone suggested that they had added a sacrificial piece of thin ply to the inside bottom and a a piece to the underside to allow it to be clamped into a vise, which I did.


My first thought was to build a sliding lid, pencil storage box, similar to one I built years ago. I took my measurements to resemble the way it was packaged originally, plus the added pieces for the vise. 

I had a piece of spalted elm that was thick enough to resaw, that would allow me to have continuous grain on all four sides and some nice walnut for the lid. I milled the pieces to final thickness and dimensions using @Chet‘s idea of a spacer block. With all four pieces cut, along with the grooves for the lid and bottom, I did a dry fit. In my haste, I realized that I had applied the outside dimensions to the inside and as the sides were 1/2” thick, my box was now 1” to short on length and width. I bit the bullet on this one and cut the sides down and made another pencil box. Like I needed another one and now the grain no longer wraps around continuously. 


I no longer had a piece of the spalted that was thick enough to be re-sawn but found an off cut of some figured cherry that has been air drying for 5 years that had some potential. I filled some cracks and a knot with epoxy and after sanding, will give it another try.



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As I will not be using re-sawn boards, it will not have a continuous grain wrap but hopefully it will match up on three corners. 

I ripped the board to the correct width on the ts and using my larger crosscut sled, cut it to lengths, again using the spacer block. 


I replaced the larger sled with my newly built small parts sled where I cut the 45* on each end. Next was to cut the grooves for the bottom and this was done on my router table. 

Still on the router table, I used a homemade jig to cut the hidden splines on each end.


The splines were cut from some scrap on the ts. Dry fitting a side and an end allowed me to get a measurement for the 1/4” ply bottom.


I applied glue to all of the splines and joints and rolled the sides around the bottom with them held in place with blue tape and set the assembly aside to dry and concentrate on the top. 

I had a nice piece of walnut left over from another project that was just the right size. I resawed it to a little over 3/8” and finished it up on the planer and drum sander.


Using a scrap of heart wood from the same cherry tree, I cut the outside frame for the top on the miter sled and cut the grooves to accept the top panel on the router table. 


After dry fitting the frame and panel to insure a good fit for the floating panel, I glued the assembly, again using blue tape and this time using some rubber bands to keep everything square and snug. I was careful not to get glue in the panel grooves. 

Once this assembly was dry, I cut grooves in the edges of the frame on the ts using a flat tooth blade and a jig to accept the splines. After the glue dried, I used a flush trim saw to cut the splines flush with the sides.


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If you add the latest addition to the small box miter sled, you can cut those length wise splines at the TS on that sled..  It's essentially the same jig, just clamped into the sled with a little T-track added for work holding..  You could probably make this one work..

Super nice job regardless of how you got it done!

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9 minutes ago, Coop said:

As the box lid is 14.5” x 6”, the lid frame was a little long to cut on the little miter box. I did however, cut the splines to length on it! 

The length of the piece is nearly irrelevant..  Set your router table jig on the small box miter sled and clamp it down.

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Now that the lid and the box are complete, I needed to route the mortises for the hinges. I cut a thin strip of ply to make a story stick, the exact length of the box and lid. I decided how far from the end of the box that I wanted the hinges to start and notched the story stick out on the ts so that the hinge would remain in the notch under gravities pull but not so tight that I couldn’t easily tap it out. As I am using Brusso hinges, the barrel of the hinge will completely extend past the edge of the box and lid. Using a 3/16” straight cutting bit and stop blocks on my router table, I set the story stick to just barely touch the cutting edge of the bit and clamped the stop blocks in place and raised the bit to just under 1/2 the thickness of the hinge.


With the mortises successfully routed and cleaned square with a chisel ( sorry, I failed to take pics of a bunch of moves), I needed to route a recess finger grip on the lid and box. The weapon of choice here was a 1/2” core box bit on the rt. I was reminded by a fellow woodworker of the danger of burn marks so I set my stop blocks and raised the bit to the desired height.  I made three passes over the bit, adjusting the fence back a smidge on each pass. When completed. It looked like I had colored the ends of these cuts with a black Sharpie😥. I attribute these marks to an old, dull bit and not moving the wood fast enough over the bit. After trying to remove the burn marks with sandpaper and every Drimmel bit I have, I resorted to a chisel. Not fancy but it will have to do. 



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51 minutes ago, Coop said:

No, I was talking about the new little miter box being too small to cut the pieces, not the sled.



yea, I was talking about your long splines in your miters..  The jig you used on your router table could be used on the small box miter sled and those could be cut at the table saw


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And now, “The Rest Of The Story”. 

I pre-drilled the holes for the hinges with a Vix bit and using the steel screw that Brusso furnishes with their hinges with some wax, I started the screw holes. I followed with the brass screws and wax and attached the hinges. I did this prior to applying the finish in case something went wrong. I removed the hinges and applied two coats of glossy ARS, followed by 3 coats of GF HP satin, sanding the nibs with 240 sponge backed paper between coats. After the last coat, I used a small piece of brown paper sack to polish it to a baby’s butt feel. 


Then the hinges were reattached.


Last step was to get the saw and miter box situated. I bought some Kaizen tool storage foam from Rockler and began getting creative and this is the final outcome.


Thanks for watching! Don’t know how the last pic got back in there and can’t seem to remove it.



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