Sunday, May 15, 2016

Presentation box for my letter opener

Yesterday I finished up my fine woodworking fundamentals course.  There were exactly two projects in this class (aside from doing a practice set of dovetail joints), a picture frame and a box.  I'm not publishing the picture frame because it's very plain and uninteresting.

I made the box to fit the letter opener I finished in September.  The finger joints reminded me of masonry, so it's obviously inspired by West Asian architecture, particularly the palaces of Persepolis.

It consists of American or black walnut and soft maple.  Unfortunately, the walnut's color varied a lot through the plank.  For finishes I had a choice of boiled linseed oil, tung oil-based varnish or water-based polyurethane, but being short on time, I was forced to go with the polyurethane, so its finish is still a bit rough (the professor noted that polyurethane, in her words, "bubbles" a lot when brushed on; it requires repeated sanding to look good).

It has two brass-plated steel hinges.  Sadly, copper to match the letter opener's furniture seems to be unavailable.  I might try to fabricate my own in the future.  The letter opener and scabbard are supported by two inserts carved from rigid pink insulating foam and covered with epoxied polyester suede cloth.  A considerable amount of epoxy seeped through the cloth; clearly I should've found something with a non-porous back.

Because the box is so small and cut to fairly tight tolerances, it's feasible to have the upper insert rest on a pair of narrow shelves over the lower one so the box can be more compact.

This was a good class for learning the use of the major standing equipment and how to get the greatest precision in fit.  Most of the work is (if you do it correctly) done on the planer, table saw and routing table, machines with which I was totally unfamiliar before.  It also gave me a chance to get started on a handful of personal projects which I can finish up over the summer.