Decided to try putting a wave pattern that flows all the way around all 4 sides of a box. This gives the illusion that the ribbon form travels around the box, and the 'wave' form on the lid. These both use the same principle of cutting the 'field' piece of wood on a bandsaw, then regluing it back together with a piece of complementary wood sandwiched.
This box is a piece of maple field, and walnut as the complement - I like how the maple and walnut complement each other.
Tools used in this project... Pretty much all of them. I am fortunate enough to have a garage full of toys, don't think I spared any of them.
- Chop saw
- Table saw
- Orbital sander
- belt sander
- clamps - lots of clamps. Band clamps, spring clamps, bar clamps.
*** PLEASE *** PLEASE !!! PLEASE *** Please take care when working with tools. I have a garage full of tools, most of them capable of removing fingers or poking out eyes - yet I have all my digits and pretty decent vision. Please know and understand how to use your equipment.
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Step 1: Layout
I had a piece of 3/8 thick maple from some previous projects. My available wood was about 41" line and 5 1/12 wide - which I used to decide the dimensions. Final dimensions were 9 by 5 1/2, about 2 1/2 inches tall.
First cut the strip of wood down to rough length for 4 sides of box - 30 inches. This left plenty of material to layout the lid.
Then rip the sides to 3 inches. This gives all of the material for the 4 sides.
The first picture shows the sample layout. I marked a line where I would rip the top section from the box. It also shows the 'wave' pattern that I would attempt to follow with my bandsaw, and where I would cut the sides.
It is critical that the 'wave' starts on the first side at exactly the same height level that it stops on the final side. This insures the wave flows around all 4 sides. I cut a template on my bandsaw from 1/4 plywood scrap, then used the template to give a pleasant curve.
I also used the same template to layout the waves on the top - again cutting with the bandsaw. Precision is not quite as much of an issue on the top.
The second picture shows the top ripped from the sides. The third shows the results of my bandsaw. I didn't follow the lines perfectly, but made sure that I started and stopped on my mark.
*** Note - in a later step I show routing the dado for the bottom panel I should have routed the dado before made the bandsaw cut.
Step 2: Re-glue
I ripped some 1/4 walnut to the thickness of my maple sides. Unfortunately, my walnut was too short to run the entire 31 inches of the sides, so I had to splice a piece - I made sure the splice ended up on a kerf on the corner so it would not be noticable.
Pictures show the sides and top glued up. I applied glue on all of the maple pieces, then clamped the walnut until some of the glue squeezed out. The walnut is thin enough and pliable enough to follow an easy curve like this.
Getting everything set up and clamped takes quite a bit of patience, and more than a few clamps. Things like to shift around when you start squeezing the pieces together, the final product will look cleaner if the maple pieces stay lined up, and everything lies flat on the bottom clamps. Good luck here, if you can borrow another set of hands it would come in handy.
The last photos show the top and sides after the glue is set overnight, and then after I sanded everything flat.
All in all, coming together quite nicely.
Step 3: Dado the Bottom
On my router table I cut a 1/4 inch dado to receive the bottom panel. No special skills here. Like I said earlier, it would probably be wise to make this cut before you cut the wave and reglue everything - but this way worked for me.
Step 4: Size the Sides
since I sanded the marking off the reglued side pieces, I used the top pieces as my guide to where to cut the sides to the proper dimensions.
I found that on my chop saw it is easier to cut everything to the correct length, then cut the miter for the corners.
To do this I cut each side at the mark from the layout - this gets the front/back close to the same size, as well as the left/right nearly the same size.
Then gang-cut the front and back to guarantee they are the same length, to the same with the sides.
To cut the miter I set my saw to 45 degrees and cut the miter, being careful not to shorten the piece at all, just remove the corner.
The next trick is to mark where the side was on the fence. I mark on masking tape on the fence. Makes it real easy to remove the marks.
Once I have the mark on the fence, turn the piece that is mitered over and cut a miter on the other side - layout is a snap, just put the piece of wood on the mark. Repeat the cut with the other side. Since the saw was set up for the sides, I went ahead and cut the thin pieces for the lid to make sure they would be identical to the box.
Then repeat the setup from the front/back. Miter both sides as well as the top pieces.
At this point the front/back will be the same length with a miter. The left/right will be the same length, with a miter. All pieces have the dado - just need to cut the bottom piece and glue everything together.
Step 5: Assembly and Glue Up
This is pretty straight forward.
Simply cut the 1/4 inch to the correct size. I like to set the piece I'm going to cut into the dado then mark where the bottom panel intersects the miter, mark, and rip at the mark. Repeat for the width.
In this case, since I had a musicbox element I drilled the holes to receive the music box mechanism. If you have a mechanism, it probably comes with a drilling pattern. My mechanism was older, removed from a failed project 20 years ago so I had to drill pilot holes to match my movement - then transfer the pattern and drill the bottom.
Gluing is easy with band clamps and 90 degree corner pieces.
Not shown is the glue-up for the top frame, used the same clamps and corner brades.
Step 6: Attaching the Top Pieces.
The top consists of a box frame about 3/8 tall, and the wave pattern top.
Size the top to the glued frame.
Since this design has the end train of the top needing to be attached to the side grain of the frame it is out of the question to use glue. The top would try to expand/contract but the glue on the side pieces of the frame would restrict movement resulting in the top being split.
I marked 4 holes about an inch from the front/back on both of the sides.
I predrilled the holes in the frame, then used my centering bit to pre-drill for the screw to go into the top. Then simply drive the screws.
Now on to them danged barrel hinges.
Step 7: The Barrel Hinges.
These little guys are beasts to install. The margin for error is nearly zero.
Not sure where I bought the hinges - I bought a bunch of them several years ago and use them from time to time.
These hinges are 5mm, so you MUST have a 5mm bit.
I know I am not accurate enough to drill 4 holes that line up with the necessary precision, so I always make a drilling jig.
The jig is simply a scrap that is the same thickness as the box. Drill 2 holes straight through the jig. I have used a drill press here, but hand holding the drill should not be a problem.
I set the hinges about 1 3/4 inches from the sides, proportions seemed right to me.
Once the holes are through the jig, set the depth. I don't have a metric stop collar, so I use a bit of masking tape then stop when the tape contacts the piece.
The second picture shows the bit, through the jig, next to one of the hinges. I set the depth to the middle of the pin in the hinge. Too shallow and the top won't sit correctly, too deep and the hinge tends not to hold very well
Anyway, with the bit in the correct location put some tape on the bit to mark where to stop when drilling.
The last 2 pictures show the jig clamped to the box, and also the lid frame. Drill the holes for the bit.
With the holes drilled we need a 45 degree bevel on the base and the lid. The miter needs to bisect the hole as close as possible. Take too little off and the top won't open. Take too much off and the hinge won't hold.
I forgot to take pictures cutting the miter - I used my table saw, but could have used a router.
Step 8: Assembly and Finish
Just need to sand - for maple I typically go to 220.
My favorite finish for maple and walnut is a simple oil, the big box stores typically don't carry this brand, but my local hardware store sells it. I haven't found anything that gives this clear sheen.
To attach the top and bottom just set the barrel hinge in the hole in the base, line up to the hole in the top, and carefully press together.
After installing the musical mechanism I thought it would be prudent to add some protection to the mechanism, so I took some 1/4 walnut and butt glued, then added a couple drops of glue to hold it to the bottom.
Now all I have to do is figure out who this box is for... Both my wife and daughter caught me working on it and both have birthdays in the next month - I'll probably make one of the happy.
Hope you enjoyed reading and maybe picked up a couple tricks you can use for your projects.