Small Cherry Sliding Lid Box

Stanley #40 on Cherry
Cross grain planing with #40 Stanley scrub plane.

A while back I volunteered to make some small boxes for our SCA activities. They will be used to present period coins to Royalty. At the time I was intending to use the router and a very nice jig in the other shop, but opted to do this at home and with all hand tools. I rummaged through the shelf of scrap I had and found a nice piece of cherry. Being scrap, it wasn’t exactly the size I was looking for, so I ripped it to width. A sharp and tuned saw is valuable for this step, mine wasn’t so it took longer than I had hoped. Next I laid out the thickness with a marking gauge, grabbed the scrub plane and went at it.

Stanley #5-1/4 on Cherry
Used my Stanley 5-1/4 to remove the scallops from the scrub plane and to get to dimension.

Taking a quarter inch off with a scrub plane doesn’t seem like a lot, but it’s more work than one might think. I took about 1/8″ off each side. I would have preferred to use my Stanley #6 fore plane, but I haven’t radiused the iron yet nor fixed the handle so I used the scrub. It worked, maybe a bit more work than it should have been, but it’s complete at least. Then I used a Stanley 5-1/4 to finish up the dimensioning. Initially it was set quite rank to remove the bulk, then I fine tuned it to take very thin shaving which made it very smooth.

Note: holding in my vice like this wasn’t optimal, the ends bowed a bit wile planing and the jaws were quite angled, I should have put a piece in the bottom that was about the same width to even out the jaws. It would have been best to do the planing on the bench top.

With a little bit of planning, I calculated about how big I could make the box with the lumber I had. Don’t forget to figure in for the top and bottom of the box. So I cut things to approximate length then ganged similar lengths up to plane the end grain with a Stanley #4 set up as my smoother. After doing so, I will have to re-plane the lid and bottom as they have a different length and width than the sides.

Dovetail saw on ganged cherry
Gang cut the dove tails to save a little time.

I ganged up the sides so I could cut them at the same time. I used a divider to split the end up evenly. I scribed my lines, then outlined them with a pencil. With the two boards in my Moxon vice I proceeded to cut my first set of dovetails with the vice. It worked great, no chatter, good clearance. This is the way to hand cut dovetails!

Dovetails in partially assembled cherry box
Initial assembly of one end of the cherry box.

I opted to chisel out the waste, which went reasonably well with tight dovetails. A bench hook is very handy for the chisel work, it holds things well, and saves my bench and vice from damage. A few taps with a mallet and the one end went together as expected.

Before I work on the remaining end, I need to figure out where I am going to put the groove for the top and bottom into the sides and ends. The remaining end will also be cut shorter to accommodate for the lid to slide and off.

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