(or, When life gives you lemons, build a box out of em)
When life gives you wonky wood…. you can cut it down into usable pieces, plane it to veneer to get it flat or toss it on the burn pile… OR you can use is exactly as is!
I don’t know where the inspiration came from, but it occurred to me to grab these wide cupped boards, and to use them, highlighting the curves they had. Squaring them to the bottom, they curved up and outward nicely. And as luck would have it, I had just the piece, with only the slightest twist to it, that was exactly the right size for the top. All reclaimed or salvaged wood – no glue ups! – all wide pieces of knotty pine with a former life in some project or another. Or rejects thereof.
I also had the idea (and crazy ambition) to handcut dovetails on the outward curving pieces – all four sized curve up and out by the way. The sides are NOT flat. So, I measured the pieces and sized them perfectly to dovetail together under a single board for the top.
I traced the shorter side pieces to match the curve of the front and back pieces and cut/sanded/filed and sanded (and sanded) to get the fit right, and tight. (Only had to sand the top of the box sides in the end to fine tune the fit of the lid.
Then I thought better of my ridiculous first stab at hand-cut dovetails. Yes I AM a lumberjock, but… lets start at level 3 or 4, not 11.
So I glued up, screwed, plugged and sanded the box some more.
Oh, yeah, the top doesn’t fit. The box was supposed to be smaller by the thickness of the walls. Ooops.
Hmm. Think, think, think.
I know, I’ll cut a curve into the top and splice in a filler piece. Ambitious? Yes. But it’ll look like a feature, an intentional design element, not a fix.
Search for the right wood. (Put off fixing the cheap bandsaw) Think. Rethink….
Entertain other simple notions. Search for more wood to glue together. No I am NOT buying wood for this warped box, even though I don’t seem to have the right piece for the top.
What I started last summer at the old house, in my old shop, FINALLY was one of the first projects to roll out of the new shop.
I looked at a two piece top. A thin stationary strip with a piano hinge, but didn’t like the look of it. This is supposed to be a small trunk/toybox at the foot of my daughters bed, and any amount of obstruction of the top is too much… Plus, I like how the angle of the back allows you to open the top past 90 degrees, yet still provide a positive stop to keep it from falling open all the way without needing a chain or specialty hardware.
In the end, I glued up a top panel from two fairly well matched, reclaimed pine stair treads. The treads were quite beat up, but an afternoon of sanding, raising the grain and more sanding got things nice and smooth. On the underside of the lid you can still make out the faded portion where the tread rested on the stringers. Funny the discoloration from time and light on the underside of a stair tread in the basement!
Incidentally, I’d previously resawn another of these treads to make this box :
Overall, the box is roughly 12″ x 12″ x 30″ The box is finished with Howards Orange Oil and Beeswax, and the lid with Shellac. Already looking antique, but full of toys and what not, in the little ones room, no longer taking up valuable shop space!!!!