Friday, July 20, 2012

Hand cut mitered boxes...

Richard Bazeley sent photos of a box design his middle school students are making using mitered corners and all hand tools. In addition to what you see in the photos, the lids can be shaped and pulls added, thus giving the students the opportunity to experiment with design and enjoy personalizing their work.

I had gotten an inquiry from another Australian woodworker, wondering about ways to cut miters without having a tablesaw. As Richard shows, it's possible, though not easy. Richard's students are cutting their miters using miter boxes and hand saws. A bit of paste filler is required to cover small discrepancies of angle or length. As with many of my mitered boxes theirs are assembled using tape to pull the corners tight as the glue sets. The bottom is plywood, nailed in place.
There are two common causes for a poor fitting mitered joint in a box. Either the angle can be off, or the opposite sides may not be exactly the same length, which then causes one or more angles to be off. For that reason, mitered corner boxes (if you are looking for perfection in fit) are best cut with tablesaw, sled and stop block. But as a tool for learning, boxes of any kind are useful even when the joints are not quite as tight as the pickiest woodworker would like and may need filler.

A student can learn many things when making a box... about wood, about tools, about measuring and geometry, about him or her self. In Richard's boxes, the lid rabbet is sawn first along the edges using hand saws, then rabbeted with a rabbeting plane. With the exception of stock preparation, the whole thing can be made with hand tools, which in itself is a valuable lesson.

Thanks Richard for the photos. Today I continue to prepare for my small cabinets class and keep on cleaning the wood shop.

Make, fix and create...

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