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    Part II: Simple Box with Half-Lap Joints





    more on woodworking safety

    Tools and Materials

    In Part I of a Simple Box with Half-Lap Joints, we covered building the box using pegged joinery that's easy to cut and assemble. In this, the final installment, we'll craft the lid and apply a simple finish that's ready within an hour.

    Speed Tenons for Rabbets

    When cutting some of the rabbets in the lid, we used a technique that's been dubbed "speed tenoning." For more information on how this technique works, be sure to view the free video at our sister site, FineWoodworking.com

    The speed tenon is a technique that's been around for as long as there have been tablesaws. That said, don't try this - or any machinery technique - unless you fully understand how it works, and feel comfortable with it.


    How to Make

    Craft the Box Lid

    Mark the Lid for Rabbetsclick to enlarge

    Mark the Lid for Rabbets: For the lid, I began with a piece of 3/8-in. thick pine and cut it to size: 11-1/2-in. x 5-in. This size provided me with an overhang of 1/2-in. on either long end of the lid, and 1/4-in. on the shorter sides. I departed from Aime's original design, which called for much more overhang. Ultimately, the overhang is up to you. Next, I marked out the materia I would need to rabbet out in order to create a lid recess that fits into the box's opening. Notice how I clearly marked the waste.

    Bevel the Top

    Mark the Lid for Rabbetsclick to enlarge

    Set Up for a Careful Cut: My rabbets are 1/8-in. deep. For the long side rabbets, I cut away a section equal to the 1/8-in. thickness of my tablesaw blade. This required a careful set-up. I used a featherboard to hold the stock against the rip fence, and had a push stick at the ready. Be sure to set the height of your saw blade so that it reaches your layout lines.

    Sand and Finish

    Mark the Lid for Rabbetsclick to enlarge

    Purposeful Finger Placement: Notice how I'm wrapping my fingers over the lip of the rip fence. I'm pinching the piece against the fence using my fingers and my thumb.

    Mark the Lid for Rabbetsclick to enlarge

    Cut the Long Rabbets: Now pass the workpiece over the blade. I'm using a large push stick to apply even more pressure against the rip fence. Always maintain awareness of where your fingers are in relation to the blade. This push stick allows my fingers to be out, away from the blade. In addition, the blade height was minimal.

    Mark the Lid for Rabbetsclick to enlarge

    Cut the Shoulders of the Short Rabbets: To do this, you'll need to lower the blade down to 1/8-in. - the depth of the rabbet. Now using a miter gauge, I make the first shoulder cut that defines the end of the rabbet.

    Mark the Lid for Rabbetsclick to enlarge

    Speed Tenon: Inch it Forward: The speed tenon technique mentioned at the start of this article is an easy, fast way to cut the rabbets on the short ends of the lid. I position the rip fence and then move the workpiece forward about 1/8-in. Consult the video mentioned at the top of this post for more information on this technique.

    Mark the Lid for Rabbetsclick to enlarge

    Speed Tenon: Now Towards the Fence: Now I move the workpiece in towards the rip fence. In this way, the blade is cutting on its side. Because tablesaw blades aren't really designed to cut in this fashion, it's important to just take off very small bits of material at a time. Inch the workpiece forward on the miter gauge about 1/8-in, and then slide the workpiece to your right, into the rip fence. Then rinse and repeat. It's ok to use the rip fence in this way because you're not cutting a piece of wood OFF the workpiece. Rather, you're nibbling away dust. Consult the video mentioned at the top of this post for more information on this technique.

    Mark the Lid for Rabbetsclick to enlarge

    Perfect Rabbets: And here's the end product: a recessed lid that fits into the opening in your box by 1/8-in. Just be sure not to make the fit too tight. You want the lid to rattle around just a wee bit, in order to account for seasonal expansion and contraction of the solid wood top.

    Mark the Lid for Rabbetsclick to enlarge

    Layout the Bevel Perimeter: This step is completely optional. I thought it might add a touch of class if I added a handplaned bevel around the box lid. I began the process by drawing layout lines 3/4-in. in from the edge on all four sides.

    Mark the Lid for Rabbetsclick to enlarge

    Handplane the Ends First: Now I skew my block plane and shave the ends until I reach my layout line. Notice how I'm holding the plane at a slight angle of about 25-degrees in order to achieve the bevel. Be sure to bevel your ends first. Any blowout you encounter in the corners will be cleaned up during the subsequent passes in the next step.

    Mark the Lid for Rabbetsclick to enlarge

    Bevel the Long Edges: Now carry out the same beveling procedure on the two long edges.

    Mark the Lid for Rabbetsclick to enlarge

    Use a Sanding Block: Wrap your sand paper around a block in order to keep things flat. For my box, I sanded using 220-grit, 320-grit, and finally, 400-grit.

    Mark the Lid for Rabbetsclick to enlarge

    Clear Paste Wax for a Rustic Finish: In keeping with the slightly rustic look of this little box, I opted for a super-simple paste wax finish. I applied the wax, allowed it to dry for a few minutes, and then buffed off all the excess. The wax will offer a bit of protection, as well as some satiny sheen. That said, this little box will weather over the years, becoming an old, time-worn friend on my shelf.

    Mark the Lid for Rabbetsclick to enlarge

    Done Deal: I plan on using this little box in my workshop to hold various drill bits that seem to accumulate without any real official "home." With any luck, I'll have it for decades-to-come.



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