Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Just Warming Up

Some extra, welcomed, shop time has been in the cards this week.  With the temperatures in the 40’s the last few days, even stealing an hour or so in the evenings has been really nice.  A few nights ago I ventured out to start working on the sanding of the box parts.
I thought I was being clever by setting up the half sheet, pad sander on one of my Ridgid Flip Top stands so that I could sit and sand. 

With the sander clamped to the stand, I fired it up and it vibrated like crazy and was very loud.  The Flip Top can be locked into a flat position, but still has some play between the top and the post.  Lesson learned…I clamped the sander mount to the workbench and set up the sander. 

I also learned an additional lesson to carry forward into future box builds…make all chalk markings on the outside surfaces of the box parts.  I had written all my identifying marks on the inside surfaces, and since those were being sanded I had to re-write all of the info onto the opposite sides of each piece.
Here are a bunch of parts all re-marked and ready to be sanded.

I started with sanding the bottom surface of the box bottoms.  I used 180 grit sandpaper to smooth out the fuzzy plywood surfaces.  I picked up this sanding tip from Doug Stowe’s book, “Box Making Basics.”  He uses the same Porter Cable sander, inverted like this, to do all the finish sanding of his boxes.  It really works well to be able to bring the work piece to a nice flat surface.

Next up were the inside surfaces of the box side pieces.  Now is the time to sand these surfaces prior to assembly.  It’s much easier to sand the inside of a box before it becomes a box!

As I was sanding I counted the number of strokes I made on each piece with the sander.  The idea is to sand each piece the same amount so that any change in thickness is consistent across all of the sides.  After each piece was sanded, I gave them a quick wipe-down with mineral spirits to clean up the surface and remove any of the fine dust left behind.

I did have to lay all of the pieces out to allow the mineral spirits to dry.  When I stacked the first few sets, the mineral spirits were removing the chalk markings on the next piece in the stack.

I left the parts out to dry until this evening.  I restacked all the parts and cleared some space on the bench to work on laying out box parts for the heartwood/sapwood combo Padauk boxes.
First I drew a straight line on the surface of the workbench to use as a layout reference.

I then used that reference mark to align the box sides and ensure that the transition line between heartwood and sapwood will meet around all four corners of the boxes.  I left these box parts a little oversized knowing that I would need to trim some material from the top or bottom edges in order to achieve the alignment I’m going for.
I was able to get a nice layout for all three boxes.  The chalk lines are rough reminders of where I’ll remove material when I’m back in the shop at a more table-saw-running-friendly time.

Tune in next time when we’ll trim these parts to size and cut bottoms for the remaining boxes.  We could see some assembly by this next weekend.  I’m hoping to have these completed by the end of the month, as I’ll be sending some of them off to Maryland for a silent auction, fund raiser that my cousin, Christy, is co-chairing for her daughter’s school.

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