- Material cost for this project was minimal. We used some cedar fence boards that I acquired years ago from a neigbouring public school. Basswood was used for the corners. The bottom pieces of the crate are made from particle board which I also get for free from a local cabinet making company.
- Machine set-up is another difficult consideration in the shop. Because I share the shop with another teacher, I have to come up with projects that don't monopolize specific machines, and I have to make sure machine set up is quick and easy in case things have to be switched back and forth.
- Student engagement is another determining factor in the success of a project. If they don't want to take it home with them when it's done, then it's not worth while.
Step 1: Materials and Machine Setup
- I didn't want the design to be so simple that my more advanced students would be finished in a day.
- Because this was the final culminating project, I wanted to challenge them a little more than usual.
- I was able to introduce a couple of joinery techniques with this project, including tongue and groove, and floating mortise and tenon.
- I wanted to see how well they could follow the plans I provided. Although this project looks simple, the success of the build hinges on the ability of my students to measure accurately and follow instructions closely.
Step 2: Plans
The plans I make up for my students are not standard plans. I try to make them as simple as possible. I have to remind my kids to look for the information. They typically want to ask for the answer or just assume that the person that set up the machine before them did it correctly. I always ask them, "What would you do if I wasn't here?" This does not always produce the desired answer, but I roll with it.
After demonstrating all of the specific machine set up and parts to the project, I have my students fill in a Bill of Materials and write a short Plan of Procedure. This forces them to interpret the plans and helps to eliminate confusion and mistakes. I don't let them start until they have a decent grasp of the build. I point out that even I make mistakes when I'm following my own plans.
Step 3: Building the Side Pieces
For the purposes of this instructable, let's start with the sides.
According to the plans, we need 16 side pieces. Most of the cedar fence boards I had on hand would yield at least 3 side pieces.
Important notes for the side pieces:
- The width of all the side pieces is 3-1/4" except for piece F. It is 2-7/8" wide.
- The length of each piece is 12". Use a stop block on the miter saw to ensure the lengths are equal and make sure each end is cut square.
- Pay close attention to the plans to see which pieces have a mortise cut in the ends. These will be done on the multi-router.
- Pay close attention to which pieces need tongue and groove cuts.
Step 4: Building the Corners
Important notes for the corners:
- Add some extra length to the pieces so that they can be nailed together at the ends while gluing.
- Clamp the corners in a bench vise to ensure a good bond.
- Be careful with material selection and grain patterns. If you choose wisely, it will be hard to determine that the corners were made with two pieces.
- Measure accurately at the planer and table saw so that the corners are the exact size.
- When gluing the two pieces together for the corners, lay them flat on the table so that the surfaces line up.
- Have a damp cloth on hand to clean up any excess glue.
- When the glue has set, you can quickly sand your surfaces smooth.
- Then cut of the ends on the miter saw using a stop block to ensure that they are all the same length.
- Make sure you don't cut through your nails.
- The corners will then have mortises cut on the multi-router.
Step 5: Assembly
Important notes for assembly:
- Dry-fit the entire project before using any glue.
- I usually allow a little wiggle room in the width of the mortises to allow for some student error. If you're accurate with measurement and a seasoned wood worker, you'll want your mortises to be exact.
- The tenons should match the width of the mortises, and be rounded on the edges, but I usually have students make them less, because it allows for some small degree of error.
- The floating tenons should be cut to the appropriate length on the miter saw and then the side panels can be glued. If the tenon material is the right thickness and your measurements are accurate, you probably won't need to clamp the sided in place.
- The false bottom should be nailed in place once three of the sides have been assembled. The last side to go on the crate should be the front side. (the one with the drawer)
- The drawer slides are made from bass wood and have the tongue cut on the edges. They are simply glued and nailed in place.
- The bottom of the drawer is made from scrap particle board or melamine, and has the groove routed along the edges.
- The sides and back of the drawer are cut from scrap pieces of material. I didn't provide these measurements because at this stage of the project they might vary from student to student. If they've made it this far, that drawer is the easy part.