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A 6-Sided Box Down-Under

January 3, 2018

I received a letter from Jude, a former student, this past week and wanted to share it with you. Jude joined me a little over a year ago when I was teaching at the Melbourne Guild of Fine Woodworking. She came in with a pretty ambitious project and I’m happy to say she finished it off and sent me some photos.

The box looks amazing Jude!

Thanks again for sharing this project with us~

In its place, with a purpose.

Hi Tom,

At long last here’s proof that I finished the box I started with you at the Melbourne Guild of Fine Woodwork over a year ago.   I showed up on the first day of your box-making workshop armed with an odd-shaped tray from the tripod beneath our telescope and the crazy idea that my first-ever box should have six sides!  Fortunately you were happy to go with it.

The box is made from butternut with a western red cedar base and a walnut top.  I had to make a 60-degree shooting board to prepare the mitred joints that I glued and then strengthened with hand-cut butternut splines.   After preparing 6 panels I carefully cut 40mm off the top of each one to create side panels for the lid in the hope of retaining a close grain match between the box and its lid.  I used a rabbet plane to create a lip on all panels to hold the lid securely in place.  Assembly wasn’t pretty but it worked!  We used ratchet straps around the box to hold the panels tightly together while the glue dried.  It took a few tries to find the best hand saw to cut slots for the splines but I got there in the end.  Once the splines were glued into place and flush-cut I sanded the box and finished it with super-blonde shellac.

This was my first project using only hand tools.  The task of thicknessing the timber for this box made me much more comfortable with the mysterious art of the hand plane and I’m grateful that you helped me get over that hump.   I really like your designs so I’ve also made your sawyer’s bench and a sharpening bench based on your plans.

Thanks again Tom … and best wishes for another great year at the UW!


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