Tuesday, 11 November 2014

My First Project: Jewellery Box - The Design

For my first woodworking project I decided to make a jewellery box as a gift for my mother on her birthday. I was inspired by a jewellery box design by Gary Rogowski as featured on this really cool video post by The Wood Whisperer - Marc Spagnuolo - another great woodworker I love to follow.

With that as the starting point, I had a few more constraints and considerations for my design. For one, after much struggle, I had managed to get a 4 1/2" W x 36" L plank of pine, a little under 1" thick, from a local plywood and hardware store. That was all the material I had to work with.

Secondly I wanted the lid to have a glass window, so that one could see inside without having to open it (Genius! I know...). This was more of a necessity for me because I had no where enough wood to glue up in to a board to make a wooden lid completely.

And lastly, I wanted to incorporate as many woodworking techniques as I realistically could in to the design so as to get a chance to work on them as part of the build.

This is the visualisation of the design I came up with. A much simplified version of Gary's original design.

Jewellery Box design visualisation. With the lid closed.

With the lid open. Made the 3D model using SketchUp and rendered using Maxwell for ScketchUp.

The Cut List

I needed nine pieces at the minimum. Four for the box, four for the lid and one for the handle. Ideally I needed more for the inside partitions but after the main nine pieces I wouldn't be left with any material for them, so I decided to make them out of some 6mm MDF I had. This is how I laid the various parts out on my piece of pine. I made sure I kept between 1/8" to 1/4" margin everywhere.

The main nine pieces laid out.

The Box

I decided to make the box out of 1/2" thick pieces, just like Marc's build. That seemed like just the right thickness, not too heavy not too light. Two short pieces for the sides, and two long pieces for the front and back. They would be joined together using box joints with a single finger on the side pieces and two fingers on the front and back pieces.

The front and back pieces. Unlike the drawing the dados for the internal partition would be 1/4".

There would be rabbets along the bottom-inside of each of the four pieces to receive the bottom of the box (to be made out of the 6mm MDF).

The side pieces. Again 1/4" dado instead of the 1/2
" in the drawing.

On the side pieces this rabbet would be through from end-to-end, whereas on the front and back pieces they would need to stop 1/4" shy of the end so as not to show through the box joints.

All four pieces would need dados to accommodate the internal partition pieces. The top of the box where the lid would rest, would receive a chamfer detail on its outside corner. The top of the box would also need mortices on the back piece for the hinges, something not shown on the drawing.

The Lid

For the lid I decided that the four pieces would be joined using mortice and tenon joints. I would have perhaps used a simple mitre joint to construct the lid, with a groove on the inside edge of each piece to hold the glass, almost like a picture frame. However I was tempted to try my hand at cutting a mortice and tenon.

I decided to have the side pieces span the entire width of the box, so that their end grain is visible on the front and back, and would kind of continue the alternating end-grain-long-grain pattern formed by the box joint on the box below (look at the visualisation above with the closed lid to see what I mean).

Front and back pieces of the lid. With a through rabbet to receive the glass.

Side pieces of the lid. Stopped rabbet to receive the glass.

Additionally, I decided to use rabbets instead of grooves/dados to hold the glass. I would have the rabbets face towards the box when the lid is in the closed position, the glass would sit inside these rabbets and then I'd have four little triangular pieces on the corners of the lid frame holding the glass in place.

Little triangular pieces to hold the glass in place.
This choice of a rabbet over a groove was down to the fact that cutting a clean groove over one entire length of each of the four lid pieces didn't seem feasible to me with my limited hand tools - essentially a (fairly coarse toothed) saw and a chisel.

To finish things off, the edge of the lid would receive a chamfer detail both on the top and bottom. And of course, the mortices for the hinges.

The Handle

This was the part that I thought through the least. Basically I came up with a shape that seemed nice to me and hoped to be able to carve it out of either the piece of pine in my cut list for the handle, or out of a scrap piece of teak I had managed to get from somewhere. The idea was to have the handle be of darker colour than the pine, to match the colour that perhaps the end-grain on the pine would end up with after applying the finish, so as to have a nice two tone appeal to the box joinery and the handle, like the one made by Marc.

Ambitious, you say?

So here I was, with a design for my first ever woodworking project that included box joints, mortice and tenon joints, through rabbets, stopped rabbets, through dados, chamfers, carving the handle and mortices for hinges - all to be made using hand tools alone (Gulp!).

In my next post in this series I shall detail the actual build. Time to make some saw dust! 

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