Box in Silky Oak.

This one of those projects that you should never show anyone, let alone publish it.  Everything that could go wrong did. And that’s exactly why I’m posting it.  It started out as another in-between-project project and a practice for hand cut dovetails.  I also wanted to test the Silky Oak, as it was very cheap and not the most popular wood for furniture making.  I saw my woodworking hero Paul Sellers make a similar box on a recent blog.  He probably finished it in 2 minutes and 48 seconds.

Up to now I’d been cutting dovetails with softer pine which allows for a tighter fit. The Oak was not as forgiving so even thought the dovetails looked super tight (see below) on dry assembly, there was no glue space, so the gluing up was a nightmare.

In the ensuing panic I didn’t square up the box properly and that was a problem when fitting a lid that slides in a groove cut into three sides of the box!  But it was good practice, because after all woodworking is mainly about problem solving.  I raised the panel by hand-marking gauge and #5 jack plane.  I cut the grooves for the lid with a Record 050 plough plane.  And I had fun.

Silky Oak is easy to work in terms of plane and chisel,  but there is a fair amount of tearout.  I found the grain very busy and would therefore personally not use it with bigger pieces.

Toolbox for Leathercraft Tools.

In between projects and needed to practice my hand cut through dovetails, so I made this box to keep my leather-crafting tools.  I used South African Pine, which has a lot of knots but  is relatively cheap and easy on the tools’ edges.  I decided to make small trays of plywood that  stack on top of each other, as there are quite few tools and I didn’t want them to bang against each other.  The lid was frame and panel, the frame was mortice & tenon and the panel made from a local hardwood called Kiaat, was raised by hand with a Stanley #78 rabbet plane and a #5 Jack plane.

I cut the dividers for the tool trays with the help of my Bridge City Tools KM-1 Kerfmaker.  The next sequence shows the trays being stacked from the bottom up, first empty and then with the tools in place.  Finish with Danish oil and wax.



For the tray bottoms, some I left bare, others i covered in Skyvex-a nice thin imitation leather that bookbinders use, and some I stuck on some veneer offcuts.

Sawtill

I’ve always wanted to make one of these.  Not only because they look cool, but they are very practical, and if you own a few handsaws, you’ll know what I’m talking about.  Due to their size and shape, saws are difficult to store and they generally take up a lot of space.  You cannot stack them, or put them on a shelf, and they are too long for most cupboards.  Many woodworkers hang them off pegs around the workshop, but I find that untidy and a use of space that I don’t have.  The sawtill I made hangs on a French cleat quite high on the wall.  You can do this because you are grabbing the saw by the handle which is on the bottom end, and this in turn allows you the space to store tools below the sawtill.

I made this out of pine, under the supervision of a teacher.  The lessons learnt were very valuable (see my following two posts on hand cut dovetailed boxes), and being in an experienced woodworker’s shop is a lesson in itself-you get to see how they work, their work flow, their choice of tools etc.  My greatest personal benefit is from watching their style of working and their particular approach to a problem or technique which I compare against my own.