We deal in lead, friend…

Before you glue the box together, we need to fit the end that the lid will slide over.  This is pretty quick to do, since if you grooved both the top and bottom of all four sides, then you already have a reference point to where the lid will slide.  I cut almost all the way to the bottom edge of the groove with a saw, then cleaned it up with a plane to where it was flush with the other grooves.


At this point, the box was pretty much done, so I went ahead and glued it up.  I’m still trying to use every clamp in the shop at one time.  This project didn’t make it, but I took a shot at it…


Though the box was together, it still needed to close.  I beveled the sides of the lid to give it a spine of maximum thickness (strength) through the middle, yet still allow it to ride in the grooves.  This is a fairly simple process for my #4 plane.


To get the box open once the lid fit, I gouged out a finger pull.


And with a few coats of oil, our bullet box is complete!  It holds all 100 rounds snugly, and once they are used up, the box remains as a keepsake.


Here’s another picture that shows those rounds comfortably ensconced within.  I think this is a little classier than the .mil version, don’t you?



The first thing I did for our bullet box was to glue the panel for the bottom.  This way the glue could cure while I was cutting the rest of the joinery.  Notice that the grain runs along the short axis.  This can be good or bad depending on the application.  For the bottom of a box it’s a good thing, as it is stronger than the other way round.  However, it’s a bad thing for the top of a table as wood expands across its width, thus exaggerating seasonal movement.  As with most things (not just in woodworking!) the proper answer is: “it depends”.


Next, I start on the dovetails.  I’m making sure to accommodate the sliding lid by putting the tails on the short ends, and adjusting my pins.  In this case, I’ve shifted the “front” end (where the lid will slide out) down about 1/8″, then re-proportioned the tails slightly so that it looks harmonious.


When all the sides fit to my satisfaction, I go ahead and use my little Record 043 to cut the grooves for the bottom and the lid.  Before I do this, I make doubly sure that the top edges are all in alignment.  Since I have to register the plane’s fence on the top edge to groove for the lid (instead of the reference, bottom edge), if the top edges are off, so will the fit for the lid.  In an open box I usually leave it until almost last, but in this case we need to make sure to do it now.


By the time I’d gotten to this point, the glue on the bottom panel had cured, so I cut it to size and fit it to the grooves.  While a set of inside calipers can help with this, there really is no way to get around the fact that there’s a lot of irritating fusswork that needs to go into this.  But perseverance will eventually win out.



Bang on

As you might have gleaned from earlier posts, I was once an active duty Marine, an infantryman to be specific.  It was an excessively interesting portion of my life, but one which I can’t see ever trying to take a mulligan on.  It had a rather outsized impact on not only how the rest of my life has turned out, but also who I am.

It came to pass that one of my old friends from that time contacted me with interesting news: he was getting married, and wished me to attend.  Of course I was happy for him and quickly agreed to come up for it.  But after I hung up, I had a brief, questioning moment of doubt: what should I bring as a gift?

Well, if you recall, I said that we were on active duty together.  That made it a little easier, because an appropriate gift for us old campaigners is almost always ammunition.  Problem solved!

I mentioned this to my wife and was the prompt recipient of the eyebrow of scorn: “Really?  You’re getting him ammo?”  Now I realise that those of you who are of the weaker fairer sex might not understand that really this is a fairly personal purchase.  You have to know a lot of fairly specific details before you can buy ammo for someone.  And since it’s a fairly expensive consumable, we’re always happy to get it.  I mentioned that I was gifting ammo to someone else that has been in some similar places and his response was “Ammo?  Cool!”

But at any rate, I wanted to tie together the past and present.  I no longer carry a rifle (or light machine gun, more correctly) for a living, but then again I didn’t work wood back then either.  So I decided that not only would I gift some ammo, but also make a little box to give it in that would remain after the rounds were expended.  As it’s been given and I’m not going to ruin the surprise, I feel it’s safe to document the build here.  Thankfully, I had just enough walnut, and a piece of cherry that would suit.


A tale of a garage sale

It was the best of sales,

It was the worst of sales…

Well, that may be a little dramatic, but it was both good and bad.  On Saturday, reville was at 0500, so we could eat breakfast and load the car (in the dark and in the rain), and be off by 0600.  We wended our way south of town to the racetrack (still in the dark and in the rain), and found our vendor’s spot in the parking lot.  By the time we got set up, dawn was starting to break, and the rain had mostly tapered off.


It stayed pretty nice, if kind of gray, up until just about 0800, when the show opened.  Then it started to rain again.  Wonderful.  But in spite of the bad weather, there were a few intrepid souls out in search of a good bargain.  I sold a couple of spatulas, and my wife sold a few puzzles.  We stuck it out through the drizzle until 1000, when a reverberating booom suggested that we pay attention to the black wall laced with lightning that was rapidly approaching from the west.  Deciding that discretion was the better part of valour, we hurriedly packed our wares.  By the time we were breaking down the canopy, the rain had arrived in force.  Horizontal sheets of rain pounded us as we loaded the car back up.  All around us, other vendors were in a decamping frenzy.  By the time the car was loaded, we were soaked through.

So we made a little bit, but it was quite the ordeal.  We’ll be back next year, I expect, though hopefully the rain declines to attend.


Once our recipe box is sawn in two, the next thing is to put it back together!  I decided to use hinges.  This provides an extra bit of fitting because the hinges have to be morticed into the sides of the box.  It’s very delicate work with a chisel and a small router plane, but not particularly complex.


Once the hinges fit, drill pilot holes for the screws and affix the hinges.  Make sure that the lid sits flush with the body of the box.  If there is a gap at the back of the lid where the hinges are, then you’ll need to cut your mortices a little deeper.  If there’s a gap at the front of the lid, you’ve gone too far, and you’ll need to plane down the rim of the box a little.  It doesn’t take much, but a little care will go a long way here.  Once the fitting was done, I also put a tiny bevel along the edges of the lid and body for a little contrast.  It also keeps any minor misalignment over time (due to humidity expansion) from being noticeable.


And then all it takes is a coat of oil and the box is done!  Here it is!


And inside, it’s just as nice.  It doesn’t have finish in it because inside an enclosed space, it can start to smell funky.  Refrain from putting oil inside boxes, cabinets, etc.


And now, I’m going to go collapse for a few hours.  I’ve been working overtime trying to get everything (including this box!) ready for the giant garage sale down at the racetrack tomorrow later today.  With the early start required to get everything set up, I might get four hours of sleep.  But it should be an interesting day.  Hope to see you there!

Coming undone

So, once the glue has cured on our little recipe box, and the outside has been cleaned up, we’re done!


Well, sort of.  Kind of like Modernist architecture, it’s a very nice rectangular solid, but it’s not very functional.  How are we supposed to get into this thing?!  Well, the astute among you may have noticed that one of the pins is a little bigger than the others.  This is not an error.  It’s a feature!  Well, not really a feature per se, but it’s how we’re going to get the box open.  The pin is extra wide because it has to accommodate a saw kerf.

A what?

Yup.  A saw kerf.  We’re going to take our lovely assistant rectangle and saw it in half.  Be precise and take your time, and it’s not as nerve-wracking as it sounds.  I do make a concession to the delicacy of this procedure and use my hybrid-filed panel saw here rather than my ripsaw.  It’s a little slower, but it cuts a thinner kerf, and leaves a finer surface behind.


And with that, and a little bit of clean-up, we have a box with a lid that fits exactly.  No muss, no fuss.  This cuts down (ha!) on the amount of assemblies that I have to put together, and ensures that the two will mate closely.


Boxing match

For our little recipe box, I’m going to start by dovetailing the box sides.  I got this finished right as the sun was setting, bathing the woodshop in golden hues.


Then I had to groove the top and the bottom since we’re going to put panels in both.  While the bottom edge should be true (since that’s our reference edge), double-check that the top edge is true before you start.  Since the plane fence is going to register against it, you can very quickly end up with an out-of-place groove, and then you’ll be quite irritated.


Once the grooves are done, then fit the panels in.  There’s not really a quick way to do this.  It’s a lot of fiddling.  But it is what it is.  Make sure that you don’t mix up your panels.  They should be interchangeable, but there’s no reason to take the risk.


Make sure to clean up the inside surfaces of your box before you glue it together.  Then, use every clamp in the shop to hold it together while the glue cures.  You can never have enough clamps…