Monday, February 7, 2011

I'll try to be brief.

Since starting work I've been wanting a cool case to carry things back and forth from home. I wanted something big enough to carry lunch and folders and papers, wallet, etc...but not so big as to be considered full-on luggage. I suppose a briefcase fits this bill, but I'm thinking something a little smaller.

I bought a nice piece of cherry from Highland the other day. I haven't worked a whole lot with cherry but what little work I've done has been pleasant. It planes really nicely and the grain doesn't put up much of a fight.

I started off by constructing the two large side panels of the case. My thinking here was to make one large piece, cut it in half, and then have two smaller, similar pieces.

Here's the starting point: (The bench will not be this clean again for a long time.)
This plank represented the width of the two panels. Essentially I had to add two more strips to this piece to get the height I wanted. Here's the mockup: 
You can see that I've tried to match grain pattern roughly. I haven't done a great job of that, but hey, you work with what you've got. The lines are there to facilitate re-alignment in the same position later. Now time to tongue and groove them all together. Allow me to say again how much I love my Lie-Nielsen. It's such a pleasure to use. Thanks again, Tom and Carol! Check out the shavings it makes:
They really look more like swarf from a metalshop than woodworking byproduct.

After gluing them all together I had to reduce the thickness significantly; otherwise the case would end up weighing quite a lot. The thickness planer is usually the tool for this, but mine is only a 12 incher...too small. Besides, I have something quieter, safer, and more fun: a new scrub plane.
This is my first traditional wooden plane: nice, simple, and not at all temperamental. What more could you want? Scrub planes are used for major stock removal and typically have a rounded cutter that leaves the trademark "scooped" path. I used mine to take off a lot from bother sides, then leveled it with the jointer plane, and then smoothed it with a smoother plane. Next I just cut it in half:
Yep, new saw. This was another saw kit from Gramercy: the crosscut carcass saw. Check out the custom handle:
That is some of that spalted wood I milled from the firewood pile. Looks pretty good.

I then cut and thicknessed the four boards for the case frame. The thicker one is for the bottom of the case and needs to be stronger to support the Soss hinges I'm going to use.

The two side boards will join into the top board (the board that will have the case handle) with through dovetails and will join the bottom (thick) board with half blind dovetails. This will protect the delicate end-grain from getting knocked around.

This photo is showing the two side pieces that will join with the top. These are the through dovetail tails. You can also see the scribed line running down the length of the board; this is where the completed case will be sawn open later in dramatic fashion. You can see from this shot that the one pin socket is so narrow that in order to clean it out I either need to buy a narrower chisel...
...or I need to break out the scroll saw:
Scroll saw it is.

Saw saw saw...chop chop chop...and joints come together:
Perhaps this better conveys my thinking with the half-blind dovetails. The board on the right will be the bottom of the case when standing upright. You can see how the half-blind joint protects the enclosed tails.

So then it was just a matter of making four corners out of four boards. 

Now time for new stuff. I wanted the side panels of the case to seat inside the frame, but also on top of the frame. This requires rabbets. It also lets me again use my fancy new skew rabbet plane:
You can see that the plane has a little "nicker" which is a circular blade which runs ahead of the cutter and and severs the wood fibers in a vertical manner. When used with a fence, you can do this:

The nicker is especially useful when working across the grain.

So I worked all the way around the square and then had panels that would seat nicely in the frame.

Glue and clamp time:

Phwew, that's enough for tonight. I'll complete the rest of the writeup in the next few days. 

Thanks for checking in.


  1. Johnny Rabbet and the Nicker Skew. Rock. I'm calling you today.

  2. I love the picture of the wood shavings. Tell me that you're saving them to do something really cool and artsy!