Beginner Woodworking Projects | Woodworking Tips by the American Woodworker

find furniture musical instruments functional art beautiful decoration these pieces and others like them are crafted in wood by master woodworkers who live here in Santa Cruz County and on the Central Coast in this series we meet some of these craftsmen and explore the paths they took to develop their talents we will look at examples of their work we will discover what and who inspired them please join us as we enter their workshops and watch them demonstrate the skills and the techniques they use in creating their signature pieces hello this is John Hall welcoming you to Woodworks today's program is a continuation of our how-to series last month we showed you how to make a trestle table this month we're going to show you how to make a box and to do that we're joined by Timothy Lydgate master box maker here at his workshop on the outskirts of coral Ito's today we're gonna build a box out of two woods maple and walnut and it's a nice color contrast the walnuts kind of a darkish Brown and the maple is quite quite cream-colored so I think they go well together graphically and we're gonna start with this piece of walnut and I've milled this up into strips that are going to be the side of the box this is the finished box and we're gonna do it step-by-step and what I'm talking about here is these sides you can see the thickness is the same in my camera and we're just going to wrap it around like this and that's going to be our box so the very first step you can see there's a bottom and the bottom has actually been set into the sides of the box that's called a rabbet in woodworking rabbets cut that little trench and I'll show you how that's done so I'm gonna lower my blade to the thickness that I think the bottom is gonna be I just been down here and take a look at when the tip of the blade gets to the height that I wanted this can be rough dimensions because we're gonna sand this all down when we're done so then you bring your fence over and you line up your stock and what I'm gonna do instead of using a router I'm just gonna pass this piece of wood over the table saw blade a number of times until I get the width that I want for my rabbit for my cut you'll notice I put on a dust mask first rule of thumb over time breathing a lot of these dust is not good for human lungs second thing is some sort of eye protection I need glasses so I use these fairly heavy-duty ones and it kills two birds with one stone but you can have a face mask like this some people where you can have a simple pair of protective goggles but you should have something covering you're covering your eyes at least some people like to cover their whole face and then as far as control of the blade you will notice I use this funny-looking piece of wood which I cut myself just a piece of quarter-inch plywood that I shaped so that it allows me to push the wood through the saw and that's the first thing you want to do is keep your fingers as far away from the saw blade as you can so when you're pushing with it with a push stick it leaves you quite a bit of distance between your fingers and the blade the other thing that I do is kind of hard to see but when I run my hand along this fence I always hook a couple of fingers off to the side of the fence so that even if something scared me or I jumped there isn't any way I could get to that saw blade I'm physically barred from ever touching that blade so I feel a certain degree of safety knowing that I'm holding on tight so even if something breaks loose or goes flying I'm not going to make that mistake of jerking and suddenly pushing myself into the blade and here's a here's a finished piece that I've already cut the rabbit in and you can see it's a kind of a trench in the bottom of the box and it goes about halfway through the box through the thickness of the side and it goes into the box as deep as the bottom is going to be you can kind of see how that fits in so that's step one we've cut our rabbit now we're going to turn this piece of wood into the four sides of the box the big fan of marking up your stock so you got four pieces it's kind of hard to see the pencil lines unless you're up close and I'm gonna mark them up front right left and back I'm gonna make this one the front this is going to be the right that's the back and that's the left that way when the box is finished any features in the grain are gonna run right around the box and there won't be any inconsistencies okay now you got four pieces mark front back right and left and that's going to be the basic box now since we're going to cut the miter the miter is a 45 degree angle and it points out that's the cut you're gonna want to make and then the four sides are gonna fit together quite neatly so you'll see when you put the stock up here we can raise the blade as high as we want so we come right up above the level so we're gonna put the stock here and as long as you hold tight it's not going to go anywhere and you're just gonna very slowly pass it right along the blade and it's going to generate this perfect 45-degree angle which is what we're looking for and on the first pass we're going to cut one side of each piece one side of each of these four and then we'll measure exactly in terms of leg length and width to figure out where the second cuts gonna be but the first cut is just get it in there I'm going to mark seven inches on this and I'm going to scribe it with a square and this is just for visual reference the table saw is going to cut everything square so I got one of each of these marked so now we're gonna cut the the critical miters and get exactly the length that we want blades at the right height I've run my first pass through and it was a little short so I just have a teeny weeny bit and one of the challenges in this kind of work is you you want to cut a matching pair the front and the back of the box are going to be exactly the same size and the two sides are going to be the same size so if you get one too short then you got to cut the other one again and then if that's too short you got to cut the other one and pretty soon your stock is half gone so I take very very small when I get close I take very very small bits off until I get to where I'm trying to get just move it ahead so now we have this side cut to the size we want and we're going to match it and that's how we're going to make sure that the other piece is the same size so one thing I do there's a bot side with the rabbit and then there's the top side I make sure that these two are flipped I don't know what the proper term is for that and that way if there's any imprecision in the milling it's going to be balanced because one's this way in one's that way so if some little angle we're a bit off putting these two that way is going to balance it out then I just put my finger right at the edge I'm going to use this finger usually and that keeps these aligned perfectly the edges of that liner the two pieces are aligned perfectly and then I hold it against the fence and then I use this hand to bring it out to the place I want it to be and again I'll come close and it looks like okay it's not going to be exact but it's going to be in the ballpark that's one real close and at this point I use my finger the fingernail and you can feel if there's a little bit it's not quite ready so now it's just the hair that's gonna come off but you can't really see either side of that what you're seeing is the point where the two miters meet so that means they're the same length so the next stage is to make the lid of the box and in this case as you can see from the finished product it's got a center panel and it's framed by a contrasting wood the center panel is the walnut and we've used maple for the contrast so here's another example of a miter joint around these four corners so here's my center panel which I've already cut and it's already made to size and these are the bits in the frame which again I milled out of a piece of four quarter maple it's got some little bit of nice figure to it that's gonna show up well when we get it polished and sanded and oil-like marked on each piece which it is so I don't get confused about either right or left or top or bottom again it allows the grain to be consistent set the blade the thickness we want which is going to cut one biter for each piece and then we'll go back and we'll get the size exactly the place we want it to be now comes the fun part which is fitting these minors around this center panel so what I like to do is set two of these miters the way they're supposed to be right pointing into that edge and then I hold em tight and I take a sharp pencil and I just scribe a little line where that other cut is supposed to be pencil line has some thickness itself and the point of the pencil probably didn't get right into where that wood was meeting so when I cut it I'm gonna actually remove this whole pencil line some point the piece gets too short to have a really solid foundation here so it gets shorter take another piece of wood it can be a scrap off your table saw it can be a piece of what you're working with and put that as an anchor and that becomes the fence and you can extend it out until it gets close and then you can put this piece against it and as long as you've selected a nice straight piece of wood that's going to help you out and then it's got support right right down to the blades now we're gonna fit these and see how close we came trying to move these you'll feel when the miter hits the place that's supposed to be all it's pretty tight to itself and what I like to do is hold the finished piece up against the light you can really see if there's a crack if there's a little extra space and you gotta remember to the glue actually takes up a little bit of room so you want to leave enough room for that here's our finished box parts the four sides we've got the mitered we got the size correct I'm gonna rabbet cut in them and they've been run over the belt sander under the twenty grit belt sander so there's a reasonably smooth surface here now we're gonna glue these four sides together but before we do that we're gonna pink we're gonna put a little bit of wax on the insides of these faces and there's a number of reasons for that number one it finishes the wood off nicely number two when we glue it if any glue squeezes through the seam and gets on the inside of the box we're going to be able to peel it off with a chisel because the glues not going to want to stick to the wax the goal is really to coat it so that any glue that squeezes out during the gluing is easy to it easy to remove that's the main reason well just take a piece of paper towel and just wipe this right back off to assemble the rest of the box I'm going to use epoxy and I like to use a five-minute epoxy because it speeds up my process quite a bit I'm gonna paint all the surfaces very thin layer but enough to fill the pores you know if you look at the reflection you don't want to be seeing any wood pores you want to see a nice sheen of glue all right now we have four pieces painted with their glue so I'm gonna take strips of 1-inch masking tape that's front ears back I'm gonna take the piece on the back and then apply the masking tape so half of its left over fold it under like that so it's going to cover that seem completely on my right hand piece and then fit it right in give it a little bit of a squeeze you can see some glue coming out the top and again if you put your fingers right here and push both pieces they come to a natural point and then just bring the tape around if we've cut our writers right this is going to be a perfect square and it's going to want to stay together it's the scenes are gonna want to fit together and hold in one place without any wiggling so I'm gonna tape just a simple web clamp set it loose and then I make sure it's at the same height all the way around so it's not exerting any forces that are gonna twist the box or can't the box at all then just tighten it up and I get it kind of loose tight and then I double check to make sure that the top of the box is on the same plane in this case this one is ridden up a little bit so you just kind of get it back and again you're wanting these two edges to be right at the same level and then once you're sure it's where it wants to be give it one more little screw and with all clamping procedures I think a lot of people tend to put clamps on way too hard if it's not cut properly clamping it to force into position is basically not going to work so now I'm going to take a chisel and I'm just gonna peel the excess glue off so I'm going to peel it off the top edges then the final step is this little bead of glue that's on the inside it's really just peeling it out and as you can see if I reach in with my fingers I can just kind of peel it off it pulls right out now we're gonna make the bottom of our box remember when we cut these rabbits the intention was a piece of wood was gonna slip right in and fill in that space and that's gonna be the bottom of the box i milled up these same two woods a couple of slabs of walnut and I pulled off my 8 quarter piece and the narrower stripe of maple same thickness I'm gonna laminate these three pieces together want to make sure that you're building a piece that's slightly larger than the place it has to fit again you'll trim it down after it's been glued so now we're gonna glue together the bottom of the box and what I call the lifter and there have already been mill so here they are pretty much set up ready to go there's a couple of steps involved when you're laminating together relatively thin pieces of wood first thing you got to do is tape them together so that they stay put and I do that in two stages the first thing I do just put a little piece over the top to keep them together and and then I go over to my tape dispenser and I just seal off a piece of one inch tape that's about the length of my glue seam and I fit the tape right over the middle of it and then for each seam I fold it back on itself and squeeze it together to make sure that the tape has the memory of exactly where that seam is I'll plop that down make sure it's even just give it a little squeeze and that makes everything stay in the right place when you get to the glue again you want to paint both surfaces a fairly thin layer so now they're staying where they want to be but you want to also keep them flat so I have these are the plywood I just have a collection of quarter inch plywood and that gives me a nice solid flat foundation and just to make sure that this plywood's gonna do its job we're gonna clamp that down to the plywood I use these little one-inch spring clamps and again I try to clamp every single piece so that nothing can ride up or move up so once they're set up like that when they get clamped horizontally and then tighten it just just a hair it's really not about cranking it down to make something go anywhere you've already fitted everything the lines are straight it's taped together it's on a flat surface so all you're doing really is holding it in place we've just come from gluing these bits together we put together our box the four sides of the box we built the bottom we glued the bottom into our nice little rabbit at the bottom of the box we took our lid center panel framed it with the maple now it's all nice and tight it fits pretty well so now we're gonna cut the splines splines are these contrasting color bits here and they're basically a slice right through the wood like that so there's a triangle of wood that's buried in there and it's gonna help hold together the miter the miter is a great joint but it doesn't have a lot of strength if you whack it the splines really hold it together and give it a little bit extra strength paid tool very fancy one as you can see just a piece of 2×4 and I cranked my blade to 45 degrees just ran it across made this trench just basically a right angle turned on its side this is the sides of the box on the lid of the box this is gonna run right up against demonstration in advance that's just gonna fit in like that we're gonna set the blade just the right height cut in but not to cut through he set depth of our block I like to put them move it down from the bottom not too far it's a visual it's kind of a design feature you can have them close and you can separate them by a lot you can separate them by little you can put in two or three or four you can put in two in the top and two in the bottom you can have some fun with it you can having different thicknesses so they make a pattern it can be a design country as well as a construction feature and we're gonna do the same process for the lid I generally put the spline sort of towards the bottom so we've got these cut out now and I've build up some stock that's gonna go in those holes we'll just slip the pieces in like that I'll then take a pencil and stick it in where it's going to be I'll just make a mark again it's rough I'm gonna cut these out on a scroll saw and these are going to be the individual spline so you want to leave yourself from you don't want any overlapping lines so now we're gonna take all these bits and we're gonna go over to the scroll saw and we're gonna cut these out so that they're individual pieces and then we're gonna go into the workbench and we're gonna glue them in for this procedure I use good old just white glue the woodworkers white glue that's our splines carefully fitted I do them one at a time because the last thing you want is to have something dry and get it halfway in and stuck and you can't get it back out because that pretty much ruins the entire piece so first I take the piece and I insert this here and I paint the inside faces and I try to get a little bit of glue everywhere of course it's gonna squeeze through but I want to get every surface painted so that it's got good adhesion then same thing here just paid a very thin if you can see it's not whole gobs of glue that's just enough to cover the surface you don't want to starve the joint but you don't want to be wasting glue either and then you simply fit this in and push it in now I go right up against my little plywood bench here and I give it a little bit of push with my body just to make sure that that's really snug in there then we got the lid done we're gonna do the same process for the splines that are in the box itself so it's exactly the same thing slip the paddle in paid it in and snuck it you can see a little bit of glue squirts out the edges when you snug it up it's when we're done we're gonna clean everything off with a very rough grit disc sander so there's a little bit of glue driven dribbling around we're not gonna worry okay so now we're at the belt sander this is a six by forty-eight pretty common woodworking tool we're going to be working with a hundred and twenty grit belt and basically we're gonna leave the Box square we're just going to smooth off all the faces we're still going to do a finish sanding pass I go to a 220 grit next and then 400 generally sometimes to 600 depending on the piece there's the very last step of the process you've taken it from the disk to the 120 grit belt and I've already done the 220 grit so this is the 400 grit which is going to be the final finish on this box alright now we've done the hard work building our box and now this is the fun part or you get to put the finish on and see what the things really going to look like and the first thing we're gonna do is use some of this Danish oil called watt Co this is a natural affinity I mean natural color meaning no stain I believe at the tunnel oil-based finish with some solvent in and I'm not sure but it's a so what I've always used so certain amount of habit and all this stuff so now comes the part where you take your rather bland looking wood and it turns into a magically different thing you can see how the wood is absorbing that oil so it takes a little bit of application and this is not the final finish this just seals the grain so again you can see what it does it really brings out the color of the wood if you haven't been able to see the grain before you certainly can now so after the wat Co goes on I wipe it right back off it just stays on for a minute seals the grain a little bit and then I go back to my beeswax and paint it on and this will be the finest pinnate final finish and I'll get it good again not a thick wasteful coat but just enough so that it's all everything's covered but you don't want the grain to soak it all up you want a little wax leftover on top because it's going to dry and harden and that's gonna be the actual finish of the box so that'll dry for an hour or two and then get buffed down and that'll be our finished product now that concludes today's episode of Woodworks thank you for joining us and in particular thank you to Timothy litigate for sharing some of the secrets tips and hints that you've learned over the many years of experience you've had making boxes well thank you there's a really interesting episode Timothy thanks once again join it thank you everybody and join us next time

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