I had my prepped side pieces all set up and I was ready to glue them. Duncan made two pools of glue with little spreaders, one for me and one for himself. Gluing is something that needs to happen fast and the pieces need to be put together with as much accuracy as possible on the first try because the glue sets quickly and once it sets it’s really hard to change anything. You also want to make sure you have a damp cloth on hand to wipe away any excess glue.
After we coated each edge with glue we stuck them together, hammered them firmly to make sure they fit tight, and clamped them. Then I set the box to the side to dry.
I was admiring my box when I realized that I had flipped both of the long boards inside out by accident. Oh no! The sides I had worked so hard to make perfect where hidden on the inside of the box and the sides I meant to be hidden were now on the outside for all to see. Oh well, it was too late to do anything about it. I would just have to replane the outsides and walk away with a lesson to pay attention to the details of what I am doing.
The next step was to glue a piece of plywood onto the bottom of the box. But guess what? That’s right, I glued the bottom to the top of the box. I didn’t realize this until after it had dried and I turned it over only to discover the ugly, pencil marked, unplaned edges that again were supposed to be hiding on the bottom. Oops! Now my box was inside out and upside down. I guess that lesson I was supposed to walk away with didn’t make it very far. But hey, it’s not so bad, all I had to do to fix that was to plane the top edges. It was a bit trickier with them all glued up but I managed. Mistakes happen and it’s a learning process. These mistakes weren’t too bad and maybe next time I will actually remember to pay attention.
Once the body of the box was finished the next step was to make and attach the base trim. I picked out a very textured looking 2×4 and we used the same process as before to make it straight and square. This time we ran one side through the jointer first then used the planer.
On the jointer, if the board is bowed, you want to make sure you put the convex side up otherwise it’s hard to gauge where the center of the curve is and you may not get it flat. You also don’t want to put pressure on the center of the curve when you run it through because you’ll end up taking wood off an area that will bounce back up and remain a high spot.
Using the table saw with the blade set to certain heights we cut out an L shape out of the 2×4. This would become the border and the body of the box would rest in it once the pieces were attached.
I wanted the edge rounded so Duncan showed me how to use the hand plane to achieve that. He said it was possible to use a router to do the work but he wanted me to use the hand plane. I didn’t mind. I watched him demonstrate how; he made swift back and forth motions with the plane up and down the board taking off tiny, thin strips that curled up wildly. He handed me the plane and left me to it. I had so much fun, I felt like I could do that all day. Every now and then Duncan would check in on me and give me a subtle amused look; there was a barely noticeable smile with a slight twinkle in his eyes. I wasn’t quite sure what it meant, but it made me feel like a sheepish novice (not in a bad way though).
I worked for a while completely engaged in the work. It was meditative and I enjoyed it. I took my time and got the edges just how I wanted then with as even a curve as I could get.
Now it was time to measure them out and cut the corners at a 45-degree angle. Duncan suggested working my way around the box and to try to leave a piece long enough that if I messed up on a long side I would have enough to replace it. A long one can always become a short one but not the other way around.
I started by using a chop saw to cut one edge off at a 45-degree angle. I placed that next to one corner and marked it at the edge of the next corner. Then I cut that at a 45-degree angle as well. I went around the box making one piece at a time. The first short piece I cut was a little too short so Duncan had me try it on the other side where it ended up fitting nicely.
Once they were all cut I used a bandsaw to cut a rounded section out of the bottom of the base trim. I used some scrap wood and made several practice cuts before cutting the final pieces. Then I used a plane to smooth the flat side I just cut and I used a file to smooth out and even the rounded sections. I finished by hand planing the front to clean it and smooth it.
Next we glued them up together, wiggling them a little to make sure everything was as flush and snug as we could get. Duncan put so many clamps to hold it in place it reminded me of a pincushion.
I came in for a short time on Saturday to finish up. Duncan and I talked for a bit at first as we usually do then I got started on my work. The base trim was dry and I spent the last bit of the few hours I was there filing down its uneven edges making it look like a real nice decent box.
My box is now nearly complete; I just have a lid to go. I certainly had my ups and downs through the process but nothing too catastrophic. Overall I am proud of what I have created so far and the hard work I have put into it. I am excited to make the lid and complete my box. I am also looking forward to learning the joinery techniques required to make the lid. Stay tuned for Part 3; the making of the lid.