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Small curved sided oak box

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Phlebas

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Well, hello again.

I am put in mind of Maurice Bowra’s comment to Tolkien when he (JRR) had just had another of his books published: ‘Not more f******g elves , Tolkien?’ Substitute boxes for elves and Phlebas for Tolkien… Well you get the point. It is another box.

However I don’t have very much material to play with just now, and at least I can practice (or aspire to) this way. This I think is my fifth set of dovetails, and I decided to try some on a radius. ὕβρις awaits, I suspect.

Anyway, in case it is useful for anyone trying the same:

I started with the previously derided oak floor samples.
Curved Side Box 1.jpg

These were 20mm in thickness. So I decided to resaw them. Yes I know. Asking for trouble just slicing them down the centre, bound to warp, never get them straight &c. &c.

But I tried it anyway – it’s not as though I’d be losing much.

Turned out OK, and stayed straight, plane and true for long enough for me to proceed.
Curved Side Box 2.jpg

Curved Side Box 3.jpg

Firstly, I thought it would be sensible to make a template. There was some juggling around to achieve something that looked to me like a reasonable compromise between aesthetics and practicality. And it does terminate in half-tails rather than half-pins. Anarchy, eh?
Curved Side Box 4.jpg

Hmm. I don’t have any photographs of cutting out the tails, but the usual saw, coping saw and chisel. This oak chiselled out much more pleasantly that the last lot I used. And then onto marking out – masking tape to make it visible. And so:
Curved Side Box 5.jpg

Curved Side Box 6.jpg

Now you will all see what I have done. I obviously didn’t, and carefully sawed down precisely the wrong side of the marking line.

Having decided that the sides were too long anyway, and after reducing them by 6mm or so, I tried again.
Curved Side Box 7.jpg

Mmm. Better. And a gratuitous shot of my new gent’s saw. If you look in the background you can see a curious off-cut about 6mm deep, with a pattern of angle cuts. I believe it is chortling quietly to itself.
Curved Side Box 8.jpg

So then chiselling out the waste.
Curved Side Box 9.jpg

Curved Side Box 10.jpg

I appear to have used up my quota of photographs. Onwards is the cry, bearing that banner with the strange device, Excelsior. Or something.
 

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thetyreman

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this brings back memories, I presume this the same box from woodworkingmasterclass by sellers? looks good so far
 

Phlebas

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Well, as our protagonist progresses into the heart of darkness, a dry fit. Not too bad.
Curved Side Box 12.jpg

You will see that the ends are not yet shaped. I suddenly got worried (the lord alone knows why, my incompetence has never really bothered me before) that the dovetail edges that would be revealed when the ends were curved would display appalling gaps.
So I clamped the unglued assembly in the vice and planed the ends to within about 1mm of the desired profile.
And what did that prove? The square root of a gnat’s iota. And made it difficult to clamp. So I really shouldn’t have bothered. So listen to me, oh best beloved, leave the damned thing alone until you’ve glued up.
Some grooves in the end pieces – the curve here making it particularly difficult to hold still. Bah. And some stopped grooves in the long sides. Last time I did these I found them a bit of a faff. This time I just got on with it – a batten clamped along as a straight edge, work along with a 4mm chisel, and bottom out with a small router plane. Actually very easy. Dunno what I was so bothered about.
So we have our kit of parts.
Curved Side Box 11.jpg

Glue up. Nothing very exciting. I did make some spacers so that the clamping pressure went on the tails directly. Old brown glue.
And then simply plane down the ends to the template marks. I had to work from both ends to avoid splitting the end grain, but as it fitted in the vice, it was far easier than I expected.
So here we are.
Curved Side Box 13.jpg

And here is a close up of the dovetails.
Curved Side Box 14.jpg

I’m moderately pleased.
So, next, the lid. I was thinking of a drop in lid, with either a handle (I have some scraps of a dark fruit wood that might work), or a lid that pivots on a fulcrum so pressing down on one end lifts the other end to allow it to be removed.. In any event I will need to make an insert to support the lid.
Anyone have any thoughts?
 

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sunnybob

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=D> =D> =D> =D> =D> =D> =D>
Dovetails to me are like gandolfs magic to bilbo (something to hide under a blanket from untill they go away :roll: ).
I doubt I shall ever try to do them.
A drop in lid is whats required. That would make it a very fine tea or coffee caddy.
If you make a pivot lid you have lost all the space under the end that pushes downwards, and if the contents were to shift you wouldnt be able to open it without turning it upside down.
 

Phlebas

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thetyreman":3er1akvc said:
this brings back memories, I presume this the same box from woodworkingmasterclass by sellers? looks good so far
Erm. I didn't know he'd done one. Is it on the subscribe/have to register site?
 

Phlebas

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sunnybob":2duc0sep said:
=D> =D> =D> =D> =D> =D> =D>
Dovetails to me are like gandolfs magic to bilbo (something to hide under a blanket from untill they go away :roll: ).
I doubt I shall ever try to do them.
A drop in lid is whats required. That would make it a very fine tea or coffee caddy.
If you make a pivot lid you have lost all the space under the end that pushes downwards, and if the contents were to shift you wouldnt be able to open it without turning it upside down.
Thank you sunnybob. I barely reach the level of Radagast (on one of his off days).

Mmm, I see your point about the pivot. You could get round the shifting contents problem, but why bother complicating a poor idea... I think I agree with you.

And you should try dovetails you know.
 

NickM

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It looks very neat indeed. Matt Estlea has been messing around with odd shaped boxes in his garden workshop series on YouTube. His ended up looking great, but I think yours are better!
 

woodbloke66

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Clever. It would appear from one of the pics that the short side interiors are flat; I would have tried (probably unsuccessfully) to make them concave to match the curvature of the dovetails - Rob
 

thetyreman

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Phlebas":1hmspr4w said:
thetyreman":1hmspr4w said:
this brings back memories, I presume this the same box from woodworkingmasterclass by sellers? looks good so far
Erm. I didn't know he'd done one. Is it on the subscribe/have to register site?
yes it's not one of the free projects but it was my favourite one by far, I think you can see the introduction video for free but have to be paid subscriber to access the rest, which I am fine with.
 

Phlebas

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NickM":21ttzyfn said:
It looks very neat indeed. Matt Estlea has been messing around with odd shaped boxes in his garden workshop series on YouTube. His ended up looking great, but I think yours are better!
A kind comment, but it seems unlikely. Thank you anyway.
 

Phlebas

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woodbloke66":2ouzl8c5 said:
Clever. It would appear from one of the pics that the short side interiors are flat; I would have tried (probably unsuccessfully) to make them concave to match the curvature of the dovetails - Rob
Thank you. Yes, the interior sides are flat. I did think about curving them, but ended up deciding that it would achieve nothing (no more useable internal space) and make the interior much more difficult to ljne. Also, I am painfully aware of my limitations.
 

Phlebas

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thetyreman":u87xaus9 said:
Phlebas":u87xaus9 said:
thetyreman":u87xaus9 said:
this brings back memories, I presume this the same box from woodworkingmasterclass by sellers? looks good so far
Erm. I didn't know he'd done one. Is it on the subscribe/have to register site?
yes it's not one of the free projects but it was my favourite one by far, I think you can see the introduction video for free but have to be paid subscriber to access the rest, which I am fine with.
Ah, that is why I hadn't seen it. I'll have a look for it now, and see if he did anything differently (for which read better).
 

Phlebas

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Eheu fugaces labuntur anni. Or summat.

Justify delay with classical tag. Always works (although I think I may have been rumbled towards the end of my professional life: ‘Yes, we appreciate that you intend to sing of arms and the man, but the Bank is really quite keen on seeing your report instead. Really, really quite keen. Sometime soon. Very soon…’).

Apparently (and I have this as a diktat – possibly even a ukase - from on high) my time is better spent scarfing new wood into rotting sash frames and reglazing and painting same.

Not fannying about with small boxes.

However, in a calculated act of subversion I have actually finished this little blighter.

So, we had an unfinished carcass.
So, finish it then. By which I mean apply some finish – BLO and wax.
So I did.

Curved Side Box 15.jpg


And then make some strips of wood to support the drop in top. At this point I realised I could have thought this out better. However, thusly:

Curved Side Box 16.jpg


And a lid, and a small handle from a scrap of plum wood.

Curved Side Box 17.jpg


Then, oh, bear of little brain, realise that edge grain of plywood is unpleasant, in this context. Make some strips of oak. 3mm by 3mm.

Hmm. That’s quite small, but doable I guess. Potentially funny joint details at the corner though.

‘You know, O'Connell, ever since the end of the Great War, there hasn't been a single challenge
worthy of a person like me’.

No problem.

Glue ‘em up, trim ‘em off. [Whip crack] Rawhiiiide.

Curved Side Box 19.jpg


Mark off the ends, mitre, mark off again

Curved Side Box 21.jpg


And we have these curious pieces.

Curved Side Box 22.jpg


Fitted

Curved Side Box 23.jpg


Finish the lid and handle. Line the box. Et voila.
Curved Side Box 24.jpg

Curved Side Box 25.jpg

Curved Side Box 26.jpg


Now I don’t think that is too bad. Village show cancelled this year, but next year this is definitely going into the 'animal made of vegetables' category, no, hang on, the wood work category.

OK, what have I learned? If this is of any interest to anyone attempting something similar.

1) If you are going to go to this trouble, make the sides and end out of contrasting woods. The dove tails are lost a bit at one end of my piece, ‘cos the oak is a bit muddy.

2) Precision, precision, precisonokn (oops). When you are tickling/riffling/fettling/bodging the pins it is all too easy to pare the wide end too short. Dunno why, but really watch out for that. Caught me out twice.

3) There has to be a better way of accommodating the lid. It now occurs to me that a rebate could be worked into the two short sides. Which would also make the top edges look the same thickness all round. Hmm, probably a good idea that one, actually. And you don’t really need a support on all four sides either. That would make it much quicker.

4) I’ve mentioned it before, but do not shape the ends before gluing up. Just don’t…

Any other questions or observations, to paraphrase the words of Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou, I’m your person.

Now, I think I’ll try curves on all four sides next…
 

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