Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Jasmine Jewelry Box

I finished something!

I was a bit worried about this one. It was one of those kinds of projects that seem to drag on forever. In fact, I started it 51 weeks ago. I suppose there always seems to be something more important to work on, like a new project.
Finished Jewelry Box
I first saw this box, which was designed by Gary Rogowski, as one of the projects the Wood Whisperer did a video on. I also found that Gary wrote an article on this project for Popular Woodworking back in 2011.

I thought it was a good looking box, and I wanted to see how much harder this box would be with a hand tool-only approach. Especially in my mini-shop that doesn't have all the workholding of my regular hand tool shop.

Part of the problem was talking The Frau into this design. She often responds with something I'm excited about building with a negative reaction about it's aesthetics. She didn't like the feet it sat on, and she really didn't like the handle that sat on top of the lid.

I tried to talk her into some alternatives, but finally decided to leave these elements out. (Today, she admitted that it might look nicer if it was elevated a little. I might have to put some feet on it after all.)

I think I avoided writing about this project here on Toolerable, because in the back of my mind my subconscious must have known that this is the kind of project I might not finish quickly. If at all.

The wood for this box was salvaged from a local dumpster. I wound up with more than 400 linear feet of paneling that someone ripped out of their old Spanish apartment. I was surprised to see that this smooth, white paneling was solid wood, and had a nice reddish color. I got some up the elevator to my 10th floor apartment, and discovered it is very fine ribbon sapele (Entandrophragma cylindricum, I think).

I have no idea what I'm going to do with all this Golden Dumpster Wood. I think I probably have about 390 feet left.
Entandrophragma cylindricum, ribbon sapeli from the dumpster.
I found that the paint used for this paneling was no joke. I think there is some white filler, some primer, and some really, really difficult to remove paint on top of that. I found the best way to remove the paint was with paint stripper. I don't really like stripping paint if I don't have to, so I decided I'd try to leave the paint on the one side, wherever possible. I came up with the idea of using snakeskin as a lining for the bottom of the box, rather than paper or leather.

The lid was originally going to get a mirror, and I was going to leave the paint showing on the inside of the box. All that changed, by the way.

Now I'm ready for the joinery. I found out why you don't often see finger joints in hand built furniture. They are very difficult to get just right with hand tools. Dovetails are WAYYYY easier. Next time I make one of these, it will be with dovetail joints rather than finger joints.
Cutting the finger joints by hand. It's surprisingly fiddly. A table saw would make this joint much easier.
Once I got the carcass joints done, I decided I was going to fix the bottom with slips rather than inserting it in a rabbet. One reason is this paneling stock is a bit thinner than the recommended stock. It's only about 5/16" thick. I removed a little paint and glued the slips in. They work great.
Drawer slips to secure the bottom.
These aren't traditional slips, with a rabbet. I figured I could maximize the depth of the box if the bottom panel rested on the slips, and was secured with the inner dividing pieces. I rabbetted the underside of the panel to drop onto the slips.
It was weird, but I needed to finish the dividers before gluing up the carcass.
I had some real problems gluing this thin stock into panels without any proper clamps. I made some clamps out of scraps that finally worked for this, but between the bottom and the panel for the lid I must have re-laminated those panels at least ten times. Now we're good.
It's frustrating when a panel comes apart after the joints are cut.
The Frau LOVED the ribbon sapeli that I used for the bottom. I was going to line the bottom, but she asked that I finish it instead. I'm not so sure over the long run how happy she will be with that. I offered to observe how she uses the compartments and perhaps make some jewelry holding gizmos to go inside later.

In the meantime, I had all this cool snakeskin that I was going to use for that. Instead of lining the bottom, I lined the sides and used snakeskin to cover up the white sides of the box interior.
Applying snakeskin to the inside.
With the box itself sorted, I figured I'd wait 40 weeks or so until I figured out a good way to do the breadboard ends with a 5/16" thick panel.

I finally settled on laminating two strips of sapeli together (why not? It's not like I'll run out during my lifetime!), having routed out the mortises from each half.
One is deeper than the other on purpose.
Once the breadboard ends were done, It was easy enough to make the tenons. That is, with the exception that the panel kept delaminating!
Grrr! At least I made it a bit oversize.
Once the lid was assembled and pegged, I was able to cut the breadboard ends to finished length and apply my homemade BLO, shellac, and then my secret wax formula.
Cutting to length. It would have really sucked if I screwed this up.
I put some fancy Brusso hinges on it, and it's done.
An easy 51 week project.
I'm really pleased with how all of the pegged joinery turned out. The secret to getting them to look good is using a dowel that is just a smidgen larger than the hole it is driven into. I used all bamboo skewers (thanks Greg!) and some bamboo dowels that came with a pair of The Frau's new shoes. It was some kind of contraption to keep the shoes looking nice during transport, and it happened to be just a tad thicker than 5 millimetres.
Tight! Huh?
Overall I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out.
Snakes and alligators, oh my!
More importantly, The Frau doesn't seem to hate it.