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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I made this box for a friend last week. She wanted it stained Zar American Walnut, and I was a bit worried because I have never had satisfactory results staining BB birch plywood and having it look good when I finished. But this one turned out much nicer than I expected it to.

Most Baltic Birch does not have interesting grain, so I was surprised when the pieces that I selected for this box turned out to be so interesting. It was sanded to 220 grit, then two coats of Zar American Walnut were wiped on, followed by 3 coats of Minwax Wiping Poly also wiped on, with a 360 grit light sanding of the second coat of poly before applying the final coat. The final coat of poly turned out perfectly smooth. I let it dry for 2 days after the final coat, then applied two coats of Johnson's Paste Wax, & now I don't want to give it away.


Charley
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Yea, it becomes one finger shorter that way though. I usually don't do it, unless I'm trying to make it "look better" and the box is tall enough to be able to loose one finger pair for this.

The tote boxes, in another post, were being made at the same time as this box, plus several more projects, some repairs and some machinery, etc. that I didn't see fit to photograph. Yes, I've been busier than usual for the past 2 weeks. I'm also trying to come up with some new and unique things to make for Christmas, mostly scroll saw projects. I'll be posting these as they mature.

I found a source for 10mm BB Plywood drops, all 1' X 5' in size for $2.50 each, so I bought a stack of it, and there's more where they came from, although 3 hours round trip away. My next trip will be soon, as I used a significant number of them in the past 2 weeks.

Charley
 

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Theo
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Nice box. So, what you do is keep it, make another, and problem solved. :grin:
 

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those are really nice...
 
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Theo, I don't have time. I see her on Wednesday. I'll just have to make another for me using the same technique with the stain and hope for the best.

Rick and James, These boxes are easy to make if you have a good table saw, an Incra IBox jig, and a Freud SBOX8 blade set. For most plywood boxes I just glue the top and bottom on, since the plywood is so stable with humidity changes. The Titebond glues are stronger than the wood. Not this box, but I have propped another similar sized box that I made this same way up on one corner and put my full 243 pounds of body weight on the opposite corner without even a crack noise coming from the box. They are tough when made from Baltic Birch. The top and bottom are made slightly over size and then trimmed to the box sides with my router table and flush trim router bit. I trim the excess pin lengths flush the same way. After the box is completely built, I cut the lid free on the table saw. If installing piano hinges, I've been mortising both the lid and box using the same Freud saw blade set to 1/2 of the thickness of the closed hinge, moving the box sideways as the blade is cutting, until it hits positioned stops. It's fast and accurate. For a piano hinged box I will use 1/2" thickness plywood and a hinge with 1/2" tabs. This 10 mm is too thin for piano hinges. I can build a box this size and sand it in about an hour, if you don't count the glue drying and finish application and drying times.

I do teach, and demonstrate woodworking at trade shows. I would show you how to make one of these boxes FREE, in an afternoon, but I think the commute costs would be very high. It's easy, if you have the tools to do it. One of the other train drivers that works with me came over and cut out a box one afternoon 2 months ago. He took it home and assembled it.

Charley
 

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That is so cool the way the grain came out. Maybe you have discovered something, I will have to try that out. I make my boxes the same way you describe, and like the box cutter blade, it is so versatile, Makes fast rebates too.

Like the totes too.
Herb
 

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Theo, I don't have time. I see her on Wednesday. I'll just have to make another for me using the same technique with the stain and hope for the best.

Rick and James, These boxes are easy to make if you have a good table saw, an Incra IBox jig, and a Freud SBOX8 blade set. For most plywood boxes I just glue the top and bottom on, since the plywood is so stable with humidity changes. The Titebond glues are stronger than the wood. Not this box, but I have propped another similar sized box that I made this same way up on one corner and put my full 243 pounds of body weight on the opposite corner without even a crack noise coming from the box. They are tough when made from Baltic Birch. The top and bottom are made slightly over size and then trimmed to the box sides with my router table and flush trim router bit. I trim the excess pin lengths flush the same way. After the box is completely built, I cut the lid free on the table saw. If installing piano hinges, I've been mortising both the lid and box using the same Freud saw blade set to 1/2 of the thickness of the closed hinge, moving the box sideways as the blade is cutting, until it hits positioned stops. It's fast and accurate. For a piano hinged box I will use 1/2" thickness plywood and a hinge with 1/2" tabs. This 10 mm is too thin for piano hinges. I can build a box this size and sand it in about an hour, if you don't count the glue drying and finish application and drying times.

I do teach, and demonstrate woodworking at trade shows. I would show you how to make one of these boxes FREE, in an afternoon, but I think the commute costs would be very high. It's easy, if you have the tools to do it. One of the other train drivers that works with me came over and cut out a box one afternoon 2 months ago. He took it home and assembled it.

Charley
Charley, if I came to see you could I sleep in your shop to cut expenses? :wink:

I do think your box turned out really nice. So what is your friend going to use the box for?

I have to make some recipe boxes for some of the good looking family members and you have given me some ideas. I also want to make me a box to put chisels, and block planes in.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Are the box joints cut with a router or a table saw?

I want to make a set of similar boxes and have some surplus BB to make them from.

The Incra IBox jig can be used one either a good table saw or a router table, but they must have a 3/4 X 3/8" standard miter slot that if not exactly 3/4 X 3/8" it needs to be close. The guide bar on the IBox can be adjusted, but not very much, and it's needs to slide freely, but without any play to be able to get good box joints. The jig has a piece of 1/4" MDF to act as a backer, minimizing tear-out on the side of the piece facing the jig, and this works very well if a fresh position is used for each new setup, but you really need another sacrificial strip behind your work too, when cutting box joints on a router table. Without it, the right side of each cut will tear-out. The provided backer will prevent tear-out on the left side of each router bit cut.
I tried it on my router table once, then have used it exclusively on the table saw ever since.

The Freud SBOX8 blade is a two piece blade set. They are used together. With the printed side facing out, the resulting cut is 1/4" wide. With the printed sides facing each other, the cut is 3/8" wide. The teeth on each blade are offset and work together to do this. They are also designed to make a very flat bottomed kerf cut, which you can't do with DADO blades. I also have a Freud 1/8" kerf (actually 0.126") Flat Top Ground Ripping blade (sorry, don't remember the number) that I use when I want to make smaller box joints. For significantly larger box joints, like 3/4" I have used my stacked DADO blade set. On the larger box joints the slightly uneven bottoms of the kerfs isn't quite so obvious, so the result is satisfactory. The I-Box can be easily adjusted from about 1/8" up to slightly larger than 3/4". Other manufacturers now sell the two piece box joint blade set like the SBOX8 and I think all will work to about the same quality, but I only have hands-on experience with the Freud.

Since it's necessary to make mating pieces of a box joint corner with the pins and spaces in opposite positions on each board end, I call the front and back sides of the box the "A" sides, and the two ends of the box the "B" sides. I make both ends of each piece the same, ie. both with pins at the top end. The B pieces then begin at the top with spaces rather than pins. This minimizes confusion while cutting them. An additional advantage is that there is no inside or outside on each piece when it's cut, so you can choose the best side to face out as you begin the glue-up.

If you decide that you don't want to glue the top and bottom directly onto the sides,
Lee Valley sells some small diameter slotting bits. With one of these in a router table, you can dry fit and clamp the 4 sides of the box together, then place the box over the bit and rout the slot all the way around. The slot is cut completely into the corners, so a slight rounding of the corners of the panel and it will fit perfectly. You can do this for both the top and bottom panels, if you want and this method of cutting the slot makes doing it very easy.and it's almost impossible to make a mistake. I usually do this when building boxes with solid wood so the top and bottom panels will float.

Charley
 

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Theo
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Theo, I don't have time. I see her on Wednesday. I'll just have to make another for me using the same technique with the stain and hope for the best.
Bit of a bummer that, but not to be avoided. However, with good fortune, and a sacrifice or two to the Woodworking Gods, perhaps your box will come out even better. One can only hope.
 
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I made this box for a friend last week. She wanted it stained Zar American Walnut, and I was a bit worried because I have never had satisfactory results staining BB birch plywood and having it look good when I finished. But this one turned out much nicer than I expected it to.

Most Baltic Birch does not have interesting grain, so I was surprised when the pieces that I selected for this box turned out to be so interesting. It was sanded to 220 grit, then two coats of Zar American Walnut were wiped on, followed by 3 coats of Minwax Wiping Poly also wiped on, with a 360 grit light sanding of the second coat of poly before applying the final coat. The final coat of poly turned out perfectly smooth. I let it dry for 2 days after the final coat, then applied two coats of Johnson's Paste Wax, & now I don't want to give it away.


Charley
Very nice, the grain really stands out. I wonder - did you consciously select inside/outside based on the grain pattern, or was it a random selection? I ask because the inner surfaces, at least from the photos, don't seem to have the pronounced grain that the outer surfaces do.

I recently made a pull-out shelf for a cabinet and used a piece of 1/2" birch plywood from Lowes to make the bottom (I bought a 2' x 4' partial as I only needed the one piece) and the back ("B" side) of the piece of plywood had a much more distinctive grain pattern that the "A" side - I used the "A" side for the inside as it more closely matched the 3/4" BB that I used for the back and sides. I'm going to be putting the poly on it tomorrow - no stain - and will see if the clear finish makes the "B" side grain stand out more.

Maybe the "B" side could be used for applications like this where the fancier grain would enhance the look of the finished part - although that plywood wouldn't give you the "striped" effect at the box joints, and probably show some internal voids that would spoil the whole effect.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Charley, if I came to see you could I sleep in your shop to cut expenses? :wink:

I do think your box turned out really nice. So what is your friend going to use the box for?

I have to make some recipe boxes for some of the good looking family members and you have given me some ideas. I also want to make me a box to put chisels, and block planes in.
Don, My shop is so small and crowded that you would be bent up like a pretzel if you tried to sleep in there. It's a full 2 car sized garage shop worth of stuff, but crammed into a 14 X 26' out building. There's almost no floor space left. My Unisaw is the largest open surface, but hard as cast iron, because it is.

Just follow my instructions and photos. You should be able to make something usable on the first try. The next will be significantly better and might even be the size that you planned to make it. I've been making boxes for over 50 years, but only started using Baltic Birch plywood for boxes a couple of years ago, and most have been made this way ever since. It makes some very nice boxes.

Charley
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
Tom,

You are doing a great job on that pull-out. I use the side that doesn't have any plugs or that seems to have nicer grain for the outside, but putting just clear poly on the box isn't going to show much grain no matter which side is out. It's just kind of white on white. For this box I did what I always do, put the best side out. Only when I applied the stain and wiped the excess off did I see how nice the grain of this box looked. Two coats of stain, wiped on, with the excess wiped off about 5 minutes later is what made this grain show up. The clear poly wiped on over it added depth and shine. The light sanding after the second coat of poly removed the roughness and the third coat of poly came out almost as smooth as glass. I'll be finishing other boxes this way in the future.

I've tried other finishing processes on the Baltic Birch in the past, including BLO or pre-stain sealer for the first coat. I've even tried sanding between coats to highlight the grain. Nothing has worked as well for me as it did this time, and I was actually pushing the process to get it finished as quick as possible.

Someone else asked what she wants the box for. I'm not positive, but I think she called it a "cosmetics box". I don't know much about cosmetics or applying it, but this is what she wanted. Without her input I would likely have made something entirely different. There was also some mention about hooks to hang necklaces, so to cover that issue I doubled the thickness of the top at the front part of the lid to allow for adding hooks, since the box was all made from 10mm thick Baltic Birch, but I don't know what kind of hooks she wants yet.

She is a waitress in the restaurant that my train driving buddies and I meet and have lunch at every Wednesday. She is trading me the cost of lunch for three weeks to cover the materials cost of making the box. She has been taking special care of the three of us at every Wednesday lunch for the past year, so I'm not looking for the labor costs. I just want her to be happy with it, and I think she will be. She saw one of my "tool boxes" made this way, but with just several coats of clear poly, and wanted me to msake her a box like it, but when I offered to stain it and let her pick the color, she chose the walnut stain. She saw the bare box assembled without even the top cut off yet a week ago Wednesday, but hasn't seen it since. She picked the hinges and latches and handle from samples that I showed her at that lunch time. All the finishing and hardware installation has been done since then.

Charley
 

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The Incra IBox jig can be used one either a good table saw or a router table, but they must have a 3/4 X 3/8" standard miter slot that if not exactly 3/4 X 3/8" it needs to be close. The guide bar on the IBox can be adjusted, but not very much, and it's needs to slide freely, but without any play to be able to get good box joints. The jig has a piece of 1/4" MDF to act as a backer, minimizing tear-out on the side of the piece facing the jig, and this works very well if a fresh position is used for each new setup, but you really need another sacrificial strip behind your work too, when cutting box joints on a router table. Without it, the right side of each cut will tear-out. The provided backer will prevent tear-out on the left side of each router bit cut.
I tried it on my router table once, then have used it exclusively on the table saw ever since.

The Freud SBOX8 blade is a two piece blade set. They are used together. With the printed side facing out, the resulting cut is 1/4" wide. With the printed sides facing each other, the cut is 3/8" wide. The teeth on each blade are offset and work together to do this. They are also designed to make a very flat bottomed kerf cut, which you can't do with DADO blades. I also have a Freud 1/8" kerf (actually 0.126") Flat Top Ground Ripping blade (sorry, don't remember the number) that I use when I want to make smaller box joints. For significantly larger box joints, like 3/4" I have used my stacked DADO blade set. On the larger box joints the slightly uneven bottoms of the kerfs isn't quite so obvious, so the result is satisfactory. The I-Box can be easily adjusted from about 1/8" up to slightly larger than 3/4". Other manufacturers now sell the two piece box joint blade set like the SBOX8 and I think all will work to about the same quality, but I only have hands-on experience with the Freud.

Since it's necessary to make mating pieces of a box joint corner with the pins and spaces in opposite positions on each board end, I call the front and back sides of the box the "A" sides, and the two ends of the box the "B" sides. I make both ends of each piece the same, ie. both with pins at the top end. The B pieces then begin at the top with spaces rather than pins. This minimizes confusion while cutting them. An additional advantage is that there is no inside or outside on each piece when it's cut, so you can choose the best side to face out as you begin the glue-up.

If you decide that you don't want to glue the top and bottom directly onto the sides,
Lee Valley sells some small diameter slotting bits. With one of these in a router table, you can dry fit and clamp the 4 sides of the box together, then place the box over the bit and rout the slot all the way around. The slot is cut completely into the corners, so a slight rounding of the corners of the panel and it will fit perfectly. You can do this for both the top and bottom panels, if you want and this method of cutting the slot makes doing it very easy.and it's almost impossible to make a mistake. I usually do this when building boxes with solid wood so the top and bottom panels will float.

Charley
I tried making box joints on the router table last year, with abysmal results. I cut hundreds of pieces and managed to build 2 boxes. I haven't tried making them with my new(ish) dado set. A couple of projects on the front burner first. Thanks for the advice. I like your technique for making the panel top and bottom.
 

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I have tried making box joints on the router table a few times, and invariably blow out in one place or another. After I got the Freud Box cutter blades, I never looked back, do it all on the table saw. I also have a dado set I had sharpened flat top and use it for the large box joints up to 3/4 ".

Herb
 
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