2015-04-08 - A Two-Holer

It's for my brother. He can handle two glasses at a time. This version will include a watch glass hole, like the last box, but will have a 3/8" wide 'ditch' for straws to add water to the drink with that will "overlap" the watch glass hole. I'll try to make that ditch using a corebox router bit. The sides will be straight up and down, but the bottom will be rounded. It will only be about 1/2" deep.

Gotta get back to that New Mexico sign project at some point.

2015-04-12 - Here We Go

This box will be wider than it is tall, so I decided to run the wood grain horizontally. That may or may not look good. If it doesn't I'll just have to build another one. Turning the grain sideways also increased the lid choices. It's easy to find wood pieces long along the grain, and skinny the other way, but not the other way around. Get it?

Blanks cut. patterns cut. Time for masking and gluing.

This box's top and bottom will be brought to you by the fine folks in Southeast Asia and the wood Narra. It looked nice in the store, and I didn't want to spring for Leopard Wood at $150/bf (board foot). This wood cut like balsa wood compared to oak or bubinga when I was cutting the top and bottom pieces. Hope it works out.

Drilled and drying. Will start cutting tomorrow.

2015-04-13 - Road Trip

Changed my mind. I decided to -- maybe, probably -- improve the look of this box bit and use the same piece of wood for the bottom piece as the rest of the box, instead of using a piece from a plank of yellow oak that I used on the first two boxes, or the piece of narra I bought for the lid and bottom. The yellow oak looks OK, and using the narra would probably be OK, but how many shoe boxes have bottoms a different color from the sides? I had the last of the 1x8 that the four layers were cut from, but I had no way to cut it into 1/4" slices, so off to Albuquerque I went after work for a Three Hour Tour (i.e. a trip to Albuquerque). Sorry Ginger.

The saw up at Albuquerque Exotic Woods does a nice job. Two 1/4" slabs and another piece about 1/8" thick. None of which you can see in the picture above, they are there.

When I got back to town I went into work, cut the new bottom piece and got it taped and pattern'ed. I'll start cutting everything tomorrow.

Since I was in the store up there I figured I'd look around a bit. I guess an hour or so two days ago wasn't enough -- I was just there last Saturday. I picked up a few exotic woods to use on future projects. Above is a piece of what they called granadillo. That's a common name (one of many) for macacauba. It's a Central and South American wood. Pretty. I had them slice that into 1/4" thick pieces.

I bought a thin stock plank of bubinga a while back. This was its brother. It had been standing in the store for weeks. I felt sorry for it, and I like working with it, so I bought it.

They had a lot of nice pieces of walnut. This was a 36" long leftover piece. I had it cut up into three thin pieces too. Nice.

I also picked up a bottle of the shop's mineral oil product for protecting wood. I really like the look of the oak without anything on it, but my original box has started getting a little funny looking from people handling it. It is getting a little darker in the popular places where people hold it and touch it. I tried the oil out on it. I'll let it sit for a few days and see how it looks. Right now it looks kind of dark. If it works out I'll put it on the second box, and maybe this one.

That was all for tonight.

2015-04-14 - May Change My Mind Again

So it was back to the saw tonight. Things went pretty well. There was a lot more cutting on each layer for this box. I used a Flying Dutchman #12 blade for each layer. It felt dull by the end of doing the insides and the outside of each layer. Maybe I'm just crazy. Have to order more blades.

I'm not sure the next thing I make will use the 'project boards' of oak that I have been buying. The oak seems too dry and easy to tear out. I don't think it will be a problem for this box, but it will be close. Maybe red oak is better. It's all places like Home Depot sell.

I'm getting better at this as long as I pay attention. I just have to get better at that. Before gluing layers together I remembered, this time, to drill all of the holes in the top, forth and bottom layers. I even drilled some extras. The box doesn't need any extra holes. Got to day dreaming about the new season of Game Of Thrones and drilled the extra hole in the upper right-hand corner of the bottom piece on the left. Stupid. It may bug me enough that I decide to go back to using the original narra piece for the bottom. I'll decide later.

TA DA!! All done! Yeah, I wish. There's only a little bit more work to do... This two-holer actually has a bit nicer looking shape than the single glass box now that it doesn't just exist on paper. The extra width doesn't make it look so strangely tall.

I was going to sand and router and glue up all of the layers for this box in one go, but it's kind of hard to keep the layers aligned while clamping, and you can't see anything on the inside once the clamps are in place, so I decided to do two sets of layers, but I didn't have enough clamps. Gotta buy more. I'll do the little bits of routering and sanding tomorrow, then I can glue the other two layers together, or maybe just add them to these two. I'll have to do some testing with the router to see how to make The Straw Ditch before I do much of anything. If I can't do it with the router I'll have to cut on the first layer with the saw and make a real ditch that goes through the whole layer like the other holes.

I did buy one new clamp before starting this box. When you clamp two layers together with the DeWalt and Irwin clamps they have a talent for making the layers come out of alignment. Not good. This Bessey clamp screws straight shut, so it doesn't cause that to happen. On top of that it will also reach a little farther than the other clamps. It worked perfectly for this box. I just used the Bessey clamp first in the middle then added the others at the four corners.

The mineral oil treatment of the first box may have lightened up a shade or two since I put it on. The jury is still out on whether I like it or not.

2015-04-15 - Groovy

Router bits made to cut grooves work. How about that? Other than having to move things along to keep the smoke to a minimum using it was pretty straightforward. This is a 3/8" corebox bit.

I set up a rail to run the router along the right distance from where the straw ditch was supposed to be and made several passes increasing the depth with each pass. Everything went fine until, of course, the last pass. The pattern peeled up a bit and threw the router off a little. I think I'll be able to fix it up with some sanding. The wood part of the hole isn't in as horrible a shape as it looks. The roughness is from the leftover pattern paper.

Spread the glue and got the top two layers added to the bottom two from yesterday. After squeezing I undid the clamps on the corners, cleaned the glue out of the holes for the rod magnets so there wouldn't be any trouble getting the magnets in far enough, and then clamped it all back up for the night.

Tomorrow will be drilling, putting in six 2 1/2" brass screws to keep the layers together, and the beginning of sanding. Can't wait for that.

2015-04-16 - The Dust Unsettles

The center of this box is a little complicated. There isn't any way to sand the parts with something like a drum sander. A lot of it will have to be done by hand, but before that...

It's Dremel tool to the rescue. The tool that I have (Model 395) came with a flexible cable attachment. That is going to make it possible to screw up all kinds of things. I played around and cleaned up a few bits in the middle area with it to get an idea of things to come. I'll come back for more after the main holes are finished.

I bought a "flapwheel" (a bunch of little pieces of sandpaper that spins around) for the Dremel. It kind of worked OK, but it was easy to get some burning going if you stay in one place too long. I also bought a couple of "abrasive buffs". Not quite sure what they will do, but there was a picture of them being used on a piece of wood on the label, so we'll see. I guess they are used for finishing up.

Before starting the main sanding I drilled, and countersank the rest of the holes into the bottom of the box for the 2 1/2" screws and put them in. The hole in the bottom layer is 11/64", and the holes I drilled into the other three layers were 9/64". The brass screws are #8's.

A 3/4" 80 grit sleeve does the major part of the sanding. It's going to take a couple of nights before I'm finished with that sleeve, then I'll shift to a 1/4" and 3/8" sleeve for the corners of the main holes. 1/4" for the watch glass hole in the middle.

Got one of these Elipse dust masks. Won't know if it works for a couple of decades, but it's nice to wear. Easy to breath, easy to replace the filters, and easy to take apart and rinse off at the end of the night.

2015-04-18 - All Stop

I'm going to pause the project for a while and wait for some parts to come in the mail. I have some 80 grit 3/4" drum sanding sleeves and they are doing a good job of bulk sanding the open areas of the two glass holes, but I only have 150-220 grit tubes in the 1/4 and 3/8" department. I can't get very far with those in the corners and keep up with the big boys. I don't want to get the sides "done" then screw them up trying to finish the corners. Rougher stuff should be here in a few days, and then I'll continue.

2015-04-22 - Make All Preparations For Getting Underway

Got a package today. That box is going to be in BIG trouble tomorrow.

2015-04-23 - That's Why It's Called Hardwood

In two hours one side went from being partially done from before to shaped fairly well and ready for final sanding to get rid of the scratches from the super scratchy tubes I ordered. The other hole...well...this is going to take a while even with the increased grit. I really have to work on my cutting skills. Have managed to not mess up anything yet.

2015-04-25 - The Need For Speed

The drill press that I am using for drum sanding has a set of fanbelts and different sized pullies for changing the rotation speed. I kicked the speed up to about 1700 RPM and things went much more quickly.

I came up with a couple of new methods for sanding during the day thanks to my lousy cutting skills. I have a rattail file that I usually end up using to clean up the corners when sanding tubes just won't do. Today I got the idea to put it in the drill press and take it for a spin. It worked pretty well. It cleaned up the corners and smoothed out the roughness a bit left by the 50 and 80 grit sanding tubes.

To get into the straw ditch I gaffer-taped a short piece of the 1/4" sanding tube to a 1/4" drill bit. Gaffer's tape is basically Hollywood duct tape. It's used by gaffers on movie sets. The tube extended beyond the end of the drill bit about 3/8" so it would deform to the shape of the ditch. I then used it clean up the other strangely shaped areas a bit. It also worked well.

From here on out it will be sanding by hand on the inside surfaces. We're getting close to my favorite part.

2015-04-26 - Almost There

I have 220 grit 3/8" and 1/4" sanding tubes, so I took the cheap way out and used the drill press to do most of today's 'hand sanding'. I used yesterday's technique with a drill bit, gaffer's tape, but regular sandpaper and finish sanded the central area with 320 grit. I got one of the glass holes finished with 320 grit -- really by hand, the central area, and most of the second glass hole. I'll finish up the sanding and get the bottom glued on tomorrow.

I've been thinking on this for a while. It's fairly easy to get the lids off against the magnetic attraction, but it would be nice to have a little help. A few seconds against a 1/2" 80 grit sanding tube, and poof. The 3/4" tube looked a lttle big for the job, but by the time I was finished the dent was almost a perfect match for the 3/4" tube. I'll just use it next time. I tested the theory on my original box. I'll add one of these dents to my second box and this third box. I like features that work well and don't create any moving parts.

In the spirit of the test where I put everything in the box and let it sit overnight to see if anything falls out, I tested the straw ditch today with real straws. Just by accident the ones I found were exactly the right length. The operational test was a complete success, but if I make another box with a carrier for straws I'll make it this point the change is a trade secret.

2015-04-27 - We Have A Bottom

Easy night. Just finished up a little sanding on the inside and glued on the bottom piece. I hope that piece is wide enough. It was cut really close to the exact right size which leaves nothing for sanding. If it's not good enough I may just have to start all over. Oh well. It's still a learning experience.

Tomorrow will be some routering and probably starting on the lid.

2015-04-28 - It Ain't Perfect

That extra hole. My penance. It'll be about the last thing I fix.

Looks sharp. Litterally.

You can never have too much light. Routering the inside edges of these boxes is a bit tricky. There are several places where there just isn't much material to balance the router base on.

Smooth and rounded...on the inside. The pilot of that 1/16" rounding bit is starting leave a lot of marks on the wood which have to be sanded back out. I guess it has always left marks, but it's now starting to bug me. I may not use it on future boxes, and instead just round off the edges by hand. Once the inside was finished it was time for my favorite part. The 12" disk sander. The outside was not in great shape, so this was going to be a little more work than fun.

Had to remove a fair bit of material. Use your safety stuff.

I tell ya, that 12" disk sander is pretty close to using magic. There were a couple of spots that almost needed more sanding than I thought was safe -- the walls were getting pretty thin -- but it all came out OK. I really just have to learn to cut better and all of this gnashing of teeth while sanding will go away.

I took the foam inserts from my other two boxes and loaded this one up just to see what it will look like. Not too bad. It took about two hours to get the outside to look good. Magnets and lid, and maybe foam, will be tomorrow.

2015-05-02 - You've Got To Be Kidding

Well, I had to take a couple of days off to first prepare for an astronomy talk to a group of 3rd graders, then recover from an astronomy talk to a group of 3rd graders. I'm pretty sure I was as smart as they were when I was their age. I wonder what happened?

Today was supposed to be the big (Satruday) back to work day. Got pretty much all of the last-minute touchup sanding done, but now I'm dead in the water.

Added the fancy schmancy finger dent to the top side of the box. This one is a little deeper than the two on my other two boxes to give you a little more gripping power. The other dents were next to the corner magnets. This one is in the middle. I don't know if trying to free the lid from the top two magnets at the same time will make it harder to get the lid off or not. I don't think it really will. The lid is rigid and you are always trying to separate the lid from two magnets at a time, but I had the space, and it looks OK, so...

So WHO forgot to check and see if there were enough lid magnets?? Somehow I ended up with only two. Last time I ordered 12 of everything and I have eight of the magnets for the top of the box, but only two of the lid magnets. They may have shorted me a couple on the order. It is kinda hard to count a brick of them. Oh well. They are on order and when they get here I'll be ready to do all of the magnet and lid work.

2015-05-03 - It's A Lid

Decided to do a little while waiting for the lid magnets. Just to keep the bottom of the box from getting marked up I put a booty on the bottom.

To keep the super glue holding the magnets in the top of the box from getting all over the place, like the previous two boxes, I put the glue on a straw and coated the inside of the holes then put the magnets in. Much cleaner.

The magnets get tapped into the holes about that much. That's a 7/64" drill bit.

Only took a few minutes.

This only took a few minutes too. The magnets, somehow, ended up being in the right places and drilling where the pattern said to ended up being pretty close to just right.

I'll do the slots and start the gluing for the magnets tomorrow.

2015-05-04 - And Then There Was One

Out comes the magic Dremel tool. After getting the depth of the first hole where I wanted it took about three minutes to get all four slots cut. That's a far cry from the two hours it took to do the slots on the first box, plus these holes look like they were drilled into the wood on purpose and not put there using explosives.

I had two magnets. I lost control of one of them and it snapped against a drill bit and broke in half. They are a little too brittle. At least I got one in. The shipment of a bunch of them should be here in a couple days.

I super glue the magnets in first, then let the lid sit on the box over night to get them in the right position. When you put the lid on the box the magnet in the lid wants to slide over so it is centered over the rod magnet in the box. I want it to be at one end of the magnet, so the lid magnet can be placed close to the edge of the wood. To keep it in place and pushed into the slot as far as possible I taped a piece of wooden stir stick into the slot.

2015-05-13 - Foam Prep

Before I put the bottom of the box on I traced the shape of the glass holes since they were different from the original pattern after sanding. It's easier to fit the foam before putting the bottom on, and I'll do that on the next box.

I hosed down the glass shapes with spray glue and stuck them to the tape. The more glue there is the less chance that the pattern will pull off while cutting.

2015-05-14 - Have Been Working

Darn day job has been getting in the way, but that project is finished, so it's back to wood working.

Managed to get the magnets fully glued in, but even with the slathering of the glue into the lid slots I still had the same problem with the Elmer's Glue and sawdust not being fully into the slots when I sanded the lid piece down to size. Really gotta figure that one out.

2015-05-16 - Two Steps Forward, One Back

OK, back to Saturday again. I pulled out just about all of the tools, and even built a new one today.

I've had the idea for a while to engrave a plaid pattern into the lids of these boxes with my router. I'd use the word tartan, but with my woodworking skills being what they are I'd probably piss off a bunch of Scotish folks with the finished product.

To help with the router work I thought I'd build a small work table to hold the lid and give me a stable surface for working. I had a 1x12" piece of oak and the pieces of macacauba that I bought a while back. I cut off some small strips of the macacauba, routered a couple slots in the oak and glued in the pieces of wood. It works.

Couldn't go without doing something wrong. The slot on the left side was too close to the edge to the edge of the oak to use the regular guide on the router, so I was going to clamp a 1xsomething on top of the oak, sit the router on that piece of wood with the depth of the bit adjusted to to compensate for the extra thickness, and sorta let the router 'hang ten' off the side of that board while the guide ran along the opposite side. Then I got the idea to just clamp my piece of the leftover macacauba and run the routher on the oak and against the macacauba. Forgot to readjust the bit depth. Oh well.

Glued the two strips of wood into the slots, let it dry for a bit, and took it for a spin. I used the lid from my first 'guinea pig' box.

Once the distance from the edge is adjusted, you can make a pass, rotate the lid 90 degrees, and get the same distance of a pass into the lid along the second side. Most real plaid patterens are not symetrical, so this is of limited use.

Not bad. I just made some random cuts with the different width bits to see what I could get away with. If it were laid out nicely, and I had a 3/8" bit it could really look like something. Good to know.

Last blade order for my scroll saw I bought some of these small sprial blades. They cut in any direction, so you don't have to turn the piece of material around in circles to cut curves. Figured I'd give them a try on this foam.

Well that was easy. The cutting went quickly, but the blades still kinda pulled the foam a bit, instead of truly cutting it. I can't quite work out if speeding up or slowing down the saw is better. I can get a better, smoother cut with my 1/8" blade on the band saw, but I can't keep up with it and the curves sometimes get away from me. I'll continue with the scroll saw for this box and see how it all ends up. I think I marked the holes Left and Right backwards on the paper pattern. That's why there is an L and R on each side.

So close. The skin off the block of foam on the left is too thick. The one on the right is just right. I forgot the lesson I learned last box -- that cutting thin pieces, once, is OK, but you can't shave off a little to fix a mistake -- got scared, and didn't cut the foam thin enough. Do over.

I had a piece of foam already cut to replace the foam in the last box, because of the lesson I forgot above, but it was about 2 1/4" thick. I shaved off the extra, glued a pattern on for the right...left...correct hole, and will cut that out tomorrow. I also re-glued the magnet slots in the lid. I'll finish the sanding on the lid too. Should be able to finish up everything tomorrow.

2015-05-17 - That's All!

Finished up the sanding and washed the box. Did a little more sanding and then put the parts in front of our environmental chamber air intake to dry them off.

Got the bottom foam cut out with the help of my all-purpose just the right radius pattern and spray glue lid.

I tried out a 2/0 size spiral blade on my scroll saw to see if that might be where Nirvana is located for foam cutting. It might be in the same state as Nirvana, but it's still miles away. It didn't do too bad of a job, but there was still a bit of ripping, instead of clean cutting of the foam.

I did discover that you can take an 80 grit piece of sandpaper to this foam and cover up minor mistakes a bit.

I loaded up the band saw with my 1/8" blade and took a stab at cutting the bottom of the foam the the shape of the glass. It doesn't do too bad of a job over most of the cut, but when you turn the corner for the part that is the shape of the base of the glass the blade wants to drag the foam down and the rubbing against the back edge of the blade starts to melt the foam. It's an exciting few seconds that make that part of the foam shiney, and the ridge that should be straight across not be.

If the part I was trying to cut were just a bit narrower (like if the glass wasn't so wide) I'd be able to do this step on the scroll saw, but I can't. I have no idea what the secret is to cutting the foam.

Washed up the foam and put it out in the sun to dry.

Plenty of test pieces to practice on.

Placed the usual small circles of felt on the lid so the glasses don't make so much noise when they bounce against the lid and break.

So that's the three box set so far. Have learned quite a bit in just a few months, but still have a ways to go until I'll be happy with the quality. Still don't like the color that putting mineral oil on the wood makes. It's too dark. Don't really care for the light-colored lid like this last box has. Narra doesn't seem like a great wood for lids. The density is a bit too low. It's pretty, though.

Not horrible, but not the charm. Too many little goofs. I'll remake it and do it a bit fancier later. I have to make a couple of single-glass boxes first, and I'll try using some different woods on those.