Valentines – A ‘How To’

For Valentines Day I made Amber this box. It’s made of hard maple, with the top quilting pattern made of purple heart, maple and walnut. The finish is just wipe on poly. And actually, I’ve sequestered it away back into the shop for a few more coats.

Here are some pictures from me making it. I wanted to go over some of steps because, honestly, anyone with table saw, some glue, and a few pieces of wood could make a very similar box.

You can make this.  Or at least try, which means you get to justify buying a table saw.  Worst case scenario you end up with a table saw – that’s pretty cool.

Anyway. Find a board at least four inches wide, half an inch thick and 40″ long.

After getting your board square, planed to uniform thickness, and sanded – rip pieces for the bottom (actual box) and top. I think in this case the bottom is 2.5″ and the top is 3/4″.   If it’s 40 inches long you have plenty of room for a few goof ups when you are cutting the angles.  At this point label each piece with which side is the outside and inside.

The little scoops around the edges of the top and box were done on the router table.  If you really did only have a table saw, these could be a simple angled cut – whatever angle you want, just something to break the edge and make it more visually appealing (You could also go buy or make a router table at this point).  Do this next with the top, then bottom piece.  It’s easier to do this before you cut it into sections.

Then you’ll need to cut out the ledge.   Try this on some scrap first. But when you get it right the profile of your two boards together should look something like this.

Then you cut a groove for your box bottom and box top.  Test fit this with the material you’ll be using for the top and bottom.
Now comes the fun part.  You’ll set your saw to cut at 22.5 degrees, and cut pieces off your stock that are 2 1/2″ long on the box ‘outside’ side. You’ll need 8 of these.  Set the distance with a stop block on your table saw fence so each piece is the same length. Since you’re working with an odd angle, it’s a good idea to make sure it’s right by making a few test octagons first.
Number the pieces as you work, so when you assemble them the grain can line up as best as possible.

You can use painters tape to hold them together for a test fit. Just lay the pieces out on the tape and roll up your octagon.

Ok, that really wasn’t the fun part.  The fun part is making the top. At least, it’s certainly the part people will notice more.

Cut strips of wood 3/4 of an inch wide.  The thickness should be the thickness of that groove you cut into the lid piece.  You’ll need to make a jig for your miter gauge since 1.) holding these little diamond (::ahem::  rhombus) shapes with your fingers while your table saw blade is spinning is a bad idea and 2.) you could draw lines to follow with your blade all day long and you won’t get a pile of uniform pieces to fit together.

The miter gauge is set to 45 degrees. The jig is just two pieces of plywood screwed together at 90 degrees.  Make sure the back piece is a few inches taller than you’ll be cutting – otherwise you’ll just cut the useful part off your jig. Countersunk holes in the back and bolts attach it to the miter gauge. Cut a thinner plywood (1/8) at a 45 degree angle.  This attaches to the jig to the right of the blade.  Since we want our rhombus shapes to be 3/4″ on each side, this thin plywood needs to be 3/4″ from the kerf (that’s the slot your table saw blade cut into you jig).  Now you can cut these pieces out all day – although before you do, you should cut out enough pieces to try and make sure they all fit a full 180 degrees around.

After you cut out these pieces you can start gluing them together. You can glue them to some sort of backer board (be sure the total thickness fits in that groove you made!) or you can glue them just to each other.  The glue I use is Titebond III, and it works well.  I decided to just glue them edge to edge – it isn’t a large surface that’ll hold any weight or anything, and this way you see the design on the inside of the lid too.

Lay down wax paper on a flat surface, then nail down some straight stock. You want to form two 90 degree angles here.  The wax paper keeps it from gluing to your table as you just add glue to the rhombus edges and squeeze them into that 90 degree corner.  You’ll make up four of these pieces, letting each 90degree section dry overnight.

Those are all the pictures I have.  Never mind you can’t make it.  You should just buy some roses or something instead…

No! After all of that it’s easy. Glue together your 4 panels you made into one larger sheet.  Let it dry over night before you sand sand sand, and then you can use a card scraper before the finish.

Cut the octagon shaped panel for the bottom first. You want to get it right before you start cutting your neat quilting design and mess it up!  You can trace your octagon shape of the box onto the panel, then subtract from those lines the distance from the outside of you box to the start of the groove. That makes sense right? Trial and error.  But like I said, get rid of all the error before you start cutting away at your quilted top!  Once the bottom panel fits in the octagon right, just trace this onto the top panel and cut away.

Add glue, roll it up, tape it up, wait – sand, sand,  sand and finish.


2 Comments on “Valentines – A ‘How To’”

  1. rad ~ but how about i just buy one from you??? i don’t trust myself with a table saw…and neither should anybody else.

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