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Project 8 - Japanese Toolbox

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billw

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So, finally getting round to making something a bit more "proper". I ordered the PAR for this in July, took a long time for delivery due to the pandemic. I mistakenly ordered only one panel for the lid instead of 2, so I resorted to using some old stock of maple I had, which luckily was a relatively decent colour match.

My original plan was to use some of my bog oak on this, but I took @custard's advice about not doing so because it would be wasteful, so I opted to use up some more of my european walnut stocks instead which still gives me a nice light/dark contrast.

Most of the pieces needed very little work in terms of sizing them. The biggest work was doing the through tenons. I marked them up wrong, putting them 25mm in from the side instead of 19mm, but since I got the all wrong they were fine.

So first off a few photos of getting the main box sides and bottom panel ready.
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billw

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Luckily most stuff went relatively to plan, although some issues I found were: -
1. getting a tight fit on the tenons was difficult balancing against making them too loose. My first attempts were terrible and left gaps, the fourth set looked way better
2. when I was doing the morticing I managed to split both side panels once each, I figured I'd cover it up during the gluing stage but this didn't quite work out
3. My clumsiness (and perhaps impatience) always lead to me managing to crack, chip, splinter, etc the pieces I work on. Some of the time I think I'm being really careful and things still go wrong. Sadly this is something that I keep repeating, which is frustrating because I feel like I am not learning from previous mistakes.

I used a No. 50 plane for the four rebates, I don't like that plane much, I find the blade retracts too easily and I have no idea why. Maybe the blade isn't sharp enough. I have just acquired a spare set of blades so I'm going to see if they're in any better condition.
 

billw

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I have purposely left the tenons too long until right at the end, they're meant to protrude 2mm and be chamfered. I decided I would leave this decision until I have finished everything else. I need to work out whether I want to address the gap on one of them by putting a wedge in to fill the space, or whether Ithink "it's just a bloody toolbox".
 

MikeG.

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......I used a No. 50 plane for the four rebates, I don't like that plane much, I find the blade retracts too easily ......
Stick with it Bill. It's a finicky adjuster, but an excellent tool. You barely need to touch the little adjustment lever to go from not cutting to hacking off chunks, but you'll get the hang of it. My blades don't hold an edge long, so keep on sharpening.
 

billw

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Anyhow - here's the progress on the handles. The two pieces above the handles need trimming down to size. I decided to fit them first just in case there was any movement.

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I have further planed and sanded the ends since these photos so they look a little tidier.

Worked on the lid today. Both the holding pieces now attached. I cut the wedge, then realised I'd made it too small.

With the second one, I got a long way to shaping it so it would hold it in place, but that went rapidly from almost finished to horribly wrong. I have NO idea how I managed to botch it so badly given I was test fitting it every minute or two. I have some suspicions, but started making a new one.

I managed to cut that one the wrong size too. That's three pieces of scrap for my offcuts box. I have decided to leave it for today.
 

custard

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My clumsiness (and perhaps impatience) always lead to me managing to crack, chip, splinter, etc the pieces I work on. Some of the time I think I'm being really careful and things still go wrong. Sadly this is something that I keep repeating, which is frustrating because I feel like I am not learning from previous mistakes.
This is genuinely good work, and for someone just starting out it's particularly impressive.

👏

There's a fine line to be walked here. On the one hand furniture making will always punish the impatient worker. The dice are massively loaded in favour of the tortoise and against the hare! So it's critical that you try and slow yourself down and become much more deliberate in your actions. I've so much sympathy for someone trying to teach themselves or learn from YouTube videos. The internet has no room for pauses, so everything looks like it's proceeding far faster than it does in real life. If only you could see an experienced furniture maker at the bench you'd be astonished at how they seem to begin at an absolute snail's pace, sharpening their tools, measuring cautiously, checking dimensions repeatedly. But then, just when you're about to start screaming for them to get a wiggle on, the project magically comes together, and what's more it's faultless and needs zero remedial work!

But you've already identified this about your working practises and let's be honest, your work looks very acceptable. But most important of all, you're actually finishing your projects, even when that involves going back and remaking a component. There are so many beginners who never really get anywhere because they abandon most of their projects as half completed failures.

So don't be too hard on yourself, I'd say you're showing solid evidence of having woodworking's version of the "right stuff"!
 

MikeG.

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Stick with it Bill. It's a finicky adjuster, but an excellent tool. You barely need to touch the little adjustment lever to go from not cutting to hacking off chunks, but you'll get the hang of it. My blades don't hold an edge long, so keep on sharpening.
Let me just add to this by saying that it isn't just the end of the blade that needs sharpening. The slightly raked-back sides are a critical part of the way these tools work, so although they don't need much sharpening, they need a bit of a clean up now regularly. Just hold each flat on your stone/ plate, and rub back and forth a few times.
 

Steliz

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That looks pretty good. How have you attached the base? I ask because I want to make something similar for a friend who came around to help me with my current project (which I'll post when it's finished in a week or so). His tool box was a beaten up wooden box with some woven cloth straps nailed on for handles. I don't know what he had in the bottom of it but it was very heavy and I want to make sure that I make one that is stong enough.
 

AndyT

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Smart job.

Getting the wedge right on one of these is not easy. I made one, with a perfectly fitted wedge. Next day it was too small.

I didn't have any more matching wood, so I fixed it by adding a bit of tape to one side, then giving the box away...

 

thetyreman

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do you have plans for this? what are the dimensions? I'd like to make something similar, looks great so far, keep up the good work.
 

billw

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That looks pretty good. How have you attached the base? I ask because I want to make something similar for a friend who came around to help me with my current project (which I'll post when it's finished in a week or so). His tool box was a beaten up wooden box with some woven cloth straps nailed on for handles. I don't know what he had in the bottom of it but it was very heavy and I want to make sure that I make one that is stong enough.
The base is just glued on!
 

billw

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So - FOURTH time lucky! Finally got the wedge to fit.

I'm really pleased with the lid itself, it's a snug but not tight fit, there's no uneven gaps down either side, and the two holding pieces went on pretty much at the correct angle. On the non-wedge side there's a slight mismatch but only from snug to 1mm side to side, I can live with that!

Here's the latest photos....

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Left to do: -

1. Tidy up all the overhangs on the lid
2. Fit the screws into end top pieces, and make the decorative covers out of walnut
3. tidy up all the tenons and chamfer them
4. try and minimise the scuffs, scrapes, and traces of bandsaw marks
5. apply finish (going to use Osmo again)

I've actually really enjoyed this piece.
 

Cabinetman

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Nice one Bill, I didn’t realise Japanese toolboxes were a thing, till I looked it up and there’s loads of them! All subtly different but following a sort of a set plan which yours fits into nicely, they do seem to like to have all the little drawers divided up for each tool some of them are very intricate.
Your last sentence says it all, that you enjoyed it. I think that’s why we all do it. Ian
 

billw

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Nice one Bill, I didn’t realise Japanese toolboxes were a thing, till I looked it up and there’s loads of them!
Yeah there's some really nice designs out there but the underlying concept is pretty much a standard construction. Some of the larger ones have a drawer in one end, which might be something I could attempt at some point in the near future. Or maybe, given the price, I need to start brushing up on my skills....

 

Cabinetman

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I see what you mean about price! £800 for a toolbox. That’s one thing I’ve never understood, why somebody that works in wood would buy a wooden box to put his tools in or for that matter a bench hook. As you have proved Bill what we do is take pride in our work and make our own.
 

billw

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OK - it is now fully assembled! Warts and all. Stupid mistakes, planing against the grain, a huge pile of offcuts that I am going to use up before I buy any more timber..... but it is WORTH IT!

Here's the latest photos, last thing to do is sand it down and apply a few coats of hard wax oil.

Two very basic feet glued underneath...

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The end bars screwed in place.

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Walnut caps put over the screws.

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The finished article....

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Cabinetman

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Am I right in thinking Bill that to open the lid you slide the wedge out which allows the lid to move where the wedge was and then you can lift the other end and pull the lid upwards? Quite a neat fastening.
The Japanese are very good at sliding wedges and things, I have a Japanese puzzle box with a similar thing, beautifully made, you can’t see the joints where the wedges are at all
 

billw

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Am I right in thinking Bill that to open the lid you slide the wedge out which allows the lid to move where the wedge was and then you can lift the other end and pull the lid upwards? Quite a neat fastening.
The Japanese are very good at sliding wedges and things, I have a Japanese puzzle box with a similar thing, beautifully made, you can’t see the joints where the wedges are at all
Yes, that's correct. It's so simple yet effective (until the wedge shrinks).
 

MikeG.

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Yes, that's correct. It's so simple yet effective (until the wedge shrinks).
The best approach is to leave the wedge overlong for a while whilst the box moves to a new stable size and shape, then trim off the excess only at that point.
 
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