As a beginning woodworker, I'm learning all the time. Different ways of doing things, ideas, trial and error, it is the challenge I love. I wanted to make something special for my sister, something she could pass down to her children. This is my first instructable, and my first box joint Keepsake box....here we go!
Step 1: Pick Your Battle
I chose contrasting colors. Also if I choose 1 hardwood, I use all hardwood. For this box, I used crotch walnut and white oak. It might look funny now, but just wait!
I resawed what I had, and after sanding my dimensions were 7&1/4L X 3&5/8W X 5/8T for the white oak, and 5&1/2L X 3&5/8W X 5/8T. I'm sure you can make the size anything you want.
Step 2: Box Joint Jig
I had no idea how to make the fingers, so I researched and found this simple jig that works great! The joints could have been a little tighter, but they worked. I was afraid to adjust the fence (to make them more snug) and screw the whole thing up, so I just held my breath and kept going.
Step 3: Joints Cut
After jointing both ends on each piece I dry fitted them to see how they would sit. The oak sat about a 1/4" higher than the walnut, but the bottom sat perfect. I cut a 1/4" dado at the bottom to slide the bottom panel in. For whatever reason, I didn't slide it in before glueing up, so paid the price and had to sand it down to fit after the glue up. I put tape on the inside pieces to make easy clean up of any squeeze out. After glueing and letting it dry, I took it to the table saw and hacked off the 1/4" proud oak so it sat flush with the walnut.
Step 4: Inlay for Lid
I didn't want a boring lid, so I found an inlay idea. (I should have stayed with a boring lid lol) this star inlay was quite a challenge! As a beginner everything is...I drew out the dimensions of my lid on graph paper and then used the squares to draw out the inlay shapes. Here I used walnut and maple, I really didn't measure I just shot from the hip.
Step 5: Lid
My lid dimensions were 7&1/4 X 6&1/4. I cut the walnut to size and then the oak I cut in half. I put the star on center and traced around it. Then I went to the bandsaw and cut just inside the lines. After 4 hours of sanding, the star finally fit with no gap in the center of the oak. Man I was glad that step was over!!!!
Step 6: Sand, Sand, Sand
I sanded everything to 150. I wanted the grain on the oak to stand out, so I used a few drops of tint to denatured alcohol and played around with the color on some scraps.
Step 7: Framing the Bottom
I cut pieces to go around the base for a nice finished look. After a couple tries, and a set of picture frame pieces later, I had a finished bottom. Of course I had a hiccup too. One miter was a little (1/8") short. Instead of cutting another piece, (mainly because I was out) I put a scrap in the gap and glued it in. When it was dry I cut and sanded it down to barely noticeable. My end thickness was 1/8".
Step 8: Finish. But Not Quite.
So....seeing as though finish takes so long to dry, (24 hours between coats in my case) I thought I'd put the finish on. While that's drying I can move on to building the tray.
I picked Sam Maloof finish. Poly oil and poly wax. This is what it looks like so far with just 2 coats.
Step 9: The Tray Insert
I wanted a little added strength, so I rabbeted the bottom the same width as the sides and ends. I mitered 45* angles. Again I taped the inside for squeeze out. Crossing my fingers I glued and clamped to keep it square and flush. I did a little sanding, and tinted some wood filler to fill in a couple small gaps I had from clamping too hard.
I used the same finish and glued in two pieces of walnut the same width as the box for the try to sit in. My sister was blown away by this box I made for her 35th birthday!