Stepping outside the box

Starting a new project is always a little intimidating especially when you’ve never tried anything like it before.  My wife and I decided a few years ago that we were going to start making each others presents so I decided I would build her a keepsake box with a picture frame incorporated into the lid.  I was pretty happy with the way it came out but know that it could have been a whole lot better as I stuck with techniques that were comfortable to me.  At that point I wasn’t exactly planning on making more boxes anytime soon but when my niece saw my wife’s box she decided that she needed one for her birthday.  Remember that up until now I’ve only built one decorative box but since I recently acquired a few new tools I decided that I would work from a blank canvas  and be a little creative and see where it goes.

I decided that I was going to use some Red Cedar and Maple because I thought the contrasting colors would really complement each other.  The fun part was going to be that the Red Cedar was milled by my brother-n-law so it was roughly 4/4 and the Maple was also rough lumber purchased from a local hardwood dealer.  This meant that I was going to finally use my new Porter Cable thickness planner and jointer to mill this lumber down to the final sizes that I wanted.

The first thing I learned about the planner was the dreaded snipping issue.  Since my larger panels on this box were going to be glued up pieces I think I found a way to eliminate the snipe at the end and the beginning of the lumber going through the planner.  I need to run another project through and then I’ll write about my experience and whether I found a way to eliminate the snipe issue on this benchtop planner.  Here are the glued up panels ready to be final planed for thickness.

Okay back to the box build.  I also decided that I wanted to incorporate some splines into this project since my corners were going to be glued up 45’s only.  I made a temporary jig for supporting my box while cutting the spline slots and quickly learned that before I make another box with splines I need to invest the time into building a proper jig that supports the entire box and not just one half of the box.  This made it a little tricky to keep the box running parallel to the blade while cutting.

All in all, I think the box turned out really good but I definitely learned a few things as I went and think the next box of this style will turn out even better.  I hope she enjoys it!

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