In Arts & Mysteries, Shop Blog

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The day I stop learning how to work wood is the day I hang up my saws for the last time. After more years than I care to admit, I’m still making mistakes and learning new things about wood, my tools and myself.

This past weekend, I was preparing 1/2″ stock for the sides of a toolbox I’m making myself. It’s a small box, similar to a Gerstner chest, intended to hold some of my more precious toolmaking tools. It’s a neat project and I hope to share it with you in PW.

The sides of this box are where everything is happening. They need to be accurately set out. I had the stock prep pretty much nipped in the bud; last step was to square up the top (end grain) edges of the two sides:

The trick I use is to clamp the 2 sides (of a carcase) together and match plane them. Usually, uniform is more important than accurate when it comes to carcase sides. In my haste, I marked only one side of one board (I’m planing them together right?). Well, something went wrong. I lost track of the line.

When you are planing edge grain, you really have to work in from both sides. In my case, that meant turning the boards around to avoid bumping into a camera tripod (excuses excuses). Anyway, somehow I lost square (having only one line and having no internal level as so many woodworkers claim to have). Fixing square caused me to loose length. In the end, I lost a 1/4″ of mahogany and had to do some quick redesign to avoid scrapping the carcase sides. All because I didn’t mark my boards thoroughly.

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  • Jonas Jensen

    I hope that you will make a series of articles about this toolbox. Preferably as good as the series about the standing drawing desk. The best series I have read so far in PW.
    Will you be sharing the measured drawings with us, or is it up to the builder to determine based upon the availability of material?
    Is there any reason, that you didn’t use a shooting board?
    Best regards

  • is9582


    I appreciate you sharing the fact that you’re still human.

    I’m always glad when I can save a project with a design modification, but it would certainly be nice to not need a quick adjustment. Working on an electric guitar build at present, and perhaps I’ll be lucky if it ends up looking like a Les Paul, as initially intended. 😉 Only partially kidding.

    Keep up the “real” feel to your blog. It’s great.


    Lee Laird

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