Introduction: The Broken Heart Bandsaw Box
I'm not a knick knack/bric-a-brac person. Most of my home decor consists of percussion instruments. A smaller percentage is costumes or props I've made for Halloweens past. The third category would be items I've made in my shop, such as figurines and a gramophone. That being said, I'm making a bandsaw box as a user submission for a book being published.
I was trying to come up with a new design, but this bandsaw box by isaylor inspired me to redo my first bandsaw box from 2011. I was learning how to use a band saw (still trying in fact), so the cuts left a lot to be desired. I also didn't sand the exterior of the box enough so some blade chatter can be seen in the finish. Overall, I'd declare it a success, but my pictures weren't that great and I didn't take enough to make sense of any process.
The original was made from a section of a cedar fence post, which was left over from my reclaimed bench. This version is made from a 1" x 6" poplar board from the home center and some padouk for an accent.
Step 1: Milling and Gluing Up the Blank
The first order of business in regard to a bandsaw box is getting a chunk or wood or gluing up a blank. In this case, I'm gluing up a blank.
I cut four 6 1/2" pieces from the poplar board and one from a padouk board. To get more mileage out of the padouk, I decided to re-saw it instead of using full 3/4" thick boards on the front and back.
As previously mentioned, I'm not that great on the band saw. I'm sure some of it is operator error, but there is also factors such as blade drift and my short attention span. I have no desire to set up a temporary fence, adjust for the drift using a test board, etc. Because of this, I'm starting with the table saw. Sure .. I could try and freehand re-saw this board, but by the time I planed all the waviness out of it, I'd be left with nothing. I took several passes on the tablesaw ... raising the blade a little each time .. using a push block to keep the board secure and my hand away from the blade. These kerfs made a nice channel for me to follow as I finished the re-saw operation on the band saw. A few passes through the planer and I was ready for glue up.
Glue up is easy ... slather glue on a side of each board, stack them up, add clamps. I purposely left one side of the padouk out of this initial glue up. It is worth mentioning that I took grain pattern and orientation into account. I used the more interesting looking piece of padouk for the front and arranged the poplar pieces so that the grain direction flipped with each layer .. like a zig zag I guess.
Step 2: Design Layout
When making bandsaw boxes, the back is removed after the exterior shape is cut. Gluing on the back just to cut it off again never made much sense to me ... especially with my band saw skills. I decided to temporarily attach the back with hot glue, so it can be easily removed. Double-sided tape would work as well. If I were using full 3/4" thick padouk on the back, I wouldn't use this method since I'd lose drawer depth.
You could easily print out a picture or shape and use that as your cutting template, but I drew mine by hand.
Step 3: Cutting the Box Outline
I cut this shape out using a 1/4" 4 tpi blade, which worked fine since there weren't any tight inside radiuses. I made sure to stay proud of my outline because I knew I'd have some machine marks and wanted to be able to sand to my lines.
The back was easily, yet carefully pried off and cleared of hot glue with a putty knife.
Step 4: Cutting the Drawer Outlines
Next up was cutting the main drawers. I sketched them in with a pencil I misplaced only minutes later. I also smartened up and swapped out to a 1/8" 4 tpi blade for better control on the turns ... I needed all the help I could get in achieving smooth, flowing cuts.
I decided to enter the cuts via the center crack design. Another good option would be to enter from the bottom left corner ... following the grain ... cut the drawer on the right first ... back out and cut the drawer on the left. That option would probably be an easier re-glue and might actually hide the cut better ... I'd have to test that theory though.
Now would be a good time to re-glue these entry cuts so that you aren't waiting later. I had to get creative with clamps to achieve the necessary angles and pressure.
Step 5: Cutting Drawers
If you wanted just two simple drawers, this next step would be more straight forward. You would cut off the front and back of each drawer, hollow out each drawer core, sand the insides, and then glue the front and backs back into place.
I of course have to try and be all clever by adding a hidden drawer, which throws a curve ball into the process. Let's refer to them as "hybrid drawer," "hidden drawer," and "standard drawer. Hybrid drawer is on the left and standard drawer is on the right.
1. Cut the front and back off of the standard drawer.
2. Cut ONLY the front off of the hybrid drawer.
3. Decide on and draw your drawer cavity shapes ... or just start cutting all willy nilly, you wild animal.
4. Cut out the drawer cavity of the standard drawer.
5. Cut the hidden drawer out of the hybrid drawer.
6. Cut off the back of the hybrid drawer.
7. Cut off the front and back of the hidden drawer.
8. Cut out the drawer cavity of the hybrid drawer.
9. Cut out the drawer cavity of the hidden drawer (Not shown)
Step 6: Sanding Drawer Insides
This is the time to sand the drawer cavities .. before you reattach the front and backs. Trust me ... unless you have a newborn that has advanced hand agility and likes to sand, it's easier and yields better results to do it now.
Also take this time to sand the large drawer cavities within your overall shape. Don't get too carried away though ... the more you sand, the more loose-fitting your drawers will be.
Step 7: Assembly
It's glue up time, which to some of us ... is also known as Beer O'Clock.
I started with the box and tried not to get crazy with the glue because cleaning up squeeze out inside the cavities can be challenging. Sometimes you can use the drinking straw trick, but that doesn't always work in tight corners or radiuses. I ended up going with a wet shop towel and flat blade screwdriver. Keep in mind the back isn't going to be a perfect match anymore since we removed a small amount of material when making drawers. I focused on lining up the center crack because that would be the most difficult area to sand. Add however many clamps you need for even pressure around the box ... then add some more and take fun pictures.
The drawer front and backs should match perfectly to the cores ... unless you made a hidden drawer ... thanks to the removed material. The hidden drawer makes glue up more challenging as well. Either re-glue that entry cut and wait for it to cure or just get crazy and do it all at once. Add however many clamps you need for even pressure around the drawers.
Step 8: Sanding ... Tons of Sanding
Strap yourself in for some sanding my friend, because this is going to seemingly take forever. For me that meant a respirator, dust collection, air filtration, ear projection, and tunes.
The exterior of the overall box was mostly shaped using the oscillating belt sander with an 80 grit belt, but I had to get creative when it came to the decorative center crack. There is a joke there and my 14 year old self is giddy, but I'm letting it go. My solution for this challenge was a thin strip of wood with sandpaper spray adhered to it.
I briefly sanded the drawer exteriors on the belt sander, but not too much because you need to be mindful of the fit ... remove too much material and the drawers will swim around in their openings. I transitioned to the down draft table, pulled up a stool, and spent an eternity hand sanding ... 80 grit up through 220 grit.
Step 9: Drilling Push Holes
I didn't want drawer pulls on this bandsaw box, but being able to open the drawers would be a nice feature. I went with finger push holes located in the back of the box. Using a drill press, your location choices are limited to where the chuck can fit. I wanted my holes towards the top so this wasn't an issue. You could move them to the middle if you're concerned with the drawers tipping and binding ... these however do not bind. You could also use a longer spade bit in tighter spaces.
Per my personal preference, I used a Fortsner bit (7/8" in my case) and drilled from both sides to avoid blow out ... followed by a quick sanding with a spindle drum and some hand chamfering
Step 10: Finishing
As you can imagine after all that sanding ... the parts were covered in sawdust. I took the time to wipe them all clean with mineral spirits before moving onto finish.
I was initially going to finish the box with spray lacquer, but that takes quite a bit of time ... building the coats, letting it cure, wet sanding, buffing, etc. Also, there wasn't an easy way to spray everything as one face would always be missed and hanging the pieces didn't really seem like an option. Spraying lacquer into the center crack (giddy) was just asking for trouble ... trouble in form of uneven coverage and runs.
I went with my current favorite method of 50/50 boiled linseed oil/mineral spirits, followed by a coat of paste wax and then buffed out. I like the satin finish and the feel of the wood using this method.
Step 11: Glamour Shots
Now you get to put in all the drawers and admire your creation .. display it proudly .. show it off to your friends. Of course you'll end up giving up the secret of the hidden drawer because very few people find it and you think it's cool. In my experience, hardly anyone ever totally removes the drawers.
The last picture is my original version of this design. I painted the drawer core exteriors to hide some of my early craftsmanship ... blade chatter and glue discoloration that I couldn't sand out with make the drawers too loose. I like it, but I like the new one better ... the padouk and poplar mix is visually interesting for me.
3 3/4" blank made from laminations of poplar and padouk
7/8" finger holes