'Ol Dave's Woodshop - Where woodworkers are not all Pros  

'Ol Dave's Woodshop - Where woodworkers are not all Pros
                                                                   "Where woodworkers are not all Pros"
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Here's a weird one for you.  My youngest daughter has always had a problem of letting her empty soft drink cans sitting all around her house and then having to go around and pick them all up to take to the recycle bin in her garage.  I thought that if she could disipline herself to always take them into her kitchen and sit them on the counter, then I might be able to make a collection box to place the empties in.  This would hopefully save her a few unessesary trips to the garage.  Hummm!  So..... I made her an empty can box for her kitchen counter.  Since this box was made, she has used it constantly and it has helped her keep her house less cluttered with empty cans.

The photo below is what the finished product looked like after its completion.

Empty can box for daughter's kitchen.
For those of you who are still curious, the following narrative is the progression of the project from start to finish.
Selected cherry boards prior to cutting the pieces required.
I decided to make the box out of cherry.  The main reason for that is that my daughter's kitchen cabinetry is made from cherry and that's where it ws going to be used.  I had some pieces of the wood selected already in the shop and laid those pieces on the side support of my table saw as shown here on the right. 

Cutting a bottom groove in one of the box side pieces on the router.The next step was to use the jointer to get one edge of each board straight and then take them to the router table.  I had determined what the bottom groove width and depth needed to be to cut into the pieces to accept the 3/16" plywood that I intended to use for the bottom.  I then took them to the router table to cut the grooves.  You can see me cutting one of the grooves in one of the side pieces in the left photo.

Cutting a bevel on one of the box side pieces on the miter saw.Since the sides were narrow enough to cut the bevels on each piece on my miter saw, I began cutting both end pieces and the two side pieces to their overall finished lengths.  This needed to be done in order to determine the final overall size of the bottom piece.  You can see me cutting one of those pieces in the photo here on the right.

Planing a side piece on my DW734 DeWalt planer.
After the bevels were cut on all of the pieces, I could then take them to the planer to get the thickness of those pieces down to the 3/8" dimension I wanted to have in the finished box.  Here on the left you can get a glimpse of this operation on my DW734 DeWalt planer.

When all the pieces had been planed down to the 3/8" thickness, I set them up on the side table of the table saw along with the bottom plywood panel and prepared to "dry fit" them prior to the glue up.  The photo below shows a view of what this all looked like at that point.

All five box pieces set up in their positions prior to dry fitting them.
Stained inside faces of the box pieces prior to the glue up.I decided to apply one coat of cherry stain to the box to enhance the natural darkening of the cherry wood that, over time, would occur.  I only done this on the inside faces of the pieces at this point to elimate the chance of  getting too much stain in the inside corners.  I had found that uneven staining sometimes occures when trying to do it after a box has been glued together.

Being careful not to get to get too much stain on the beveled ends of the pieces (to make sure the glue would actually do its job), you can see them laid out on an old wood door that I use as a bench for these kinds of tasks in the photo on the right.

Preparing to cut the handle grooves on my router table.
The next thing that needed to be done was to install a 3/4" core bit into my router in the router table and cut a 2 inch long by 3/16" deep groove along the top edge of each end piece to serve as lift handles on the finished box.  You can see one of these pieces prior to the cut laying on my router table in the photo on the left.  Take note of the two marks I made on the fence to show me the beginning point and ending point for routing this groove.  In this task the idea is to set the leading edge of the beveled piece down over the router bit at the first mark and proceed with the cut until the leading edge got to the second mark.

Aligning the pieces end to end to check the flow of the grain.
Backing up a little bit here...... I wanted to make sure when I cut the four pieces to make this box that the grain in the wood would be continuous around the entire perimeter of the box.  I had cut the board that was made to the right overall width by numbering the pieces 1, 2, 3, and 4 on the face of the board before cutting the bevels on the miter saw.  After staining the inside faces and prior to final assembly, I laid the pieces out in their proper order to make sure that the grain held true to this concept.  You can see these pieces as just described in the photo here on the right.  See how the grain matches going from piece to piece?

Glued up box with painters tape holding it in place until dry.
Satisfied that everything was going to be O.K. after the glue up, I applied the glue and used painters tape to secure the corners until the assembled box had dried.  This step is shown here on the left side of the page.  I have found that this method of gluing on a small box will let me accomplish the task without using clamps.

After the box had dried, I began the process of making corner keys to give the box more strength.  This might be overkill for what this box was going to be used for but........ Hey, why not make it look better in the process?  The five photos below show this process along the way. The upper left picture shows how the setup was made on my table saw using a jig that I had previously made for doing this on all my boxes.  The upper top center picture shows the box after all the key slots were cut.  The top right picture shows how I used the band saw to cut the pieces that would be used as keys.  I had planed down some strips of hard maple to the exact thickness of the key slots in the box and cut them into small triangles.  The lower left photo shows the box after the corner keys had been glued into the key slots on the box.  Lastly, I used the band saw again to saw off as close as possible, the excess material from the glued up keys as shown in the lower right picture.
Cutting the corner key slots in the box. View of can box after the key slots had all been cut. Cutting the hard maple key pieces on my band saw.
View of box with rough cut key pieces glued into place. Trimming off the excess key material from the can box.

The only thing left to do at this point was to finish staining the outside surfaces of the box and applying the final finish.  I used the finish that I always used on boxes that I make which is two coats of Watco Danish Oil and three coats of Minwax hand rubbed poly.  On the right, you can see a photo of what that looked like after this step was completed and the box sitting on my workbench.

Below is another view of the final empty can box sitting on my daughter's kitchen island counter while waiting one one more can before she takes it to the recycle container in her garage.
Finished can box on the counter awaiting one more can before removal.
This project was not at all difficult.  I mean, how difficult can it be to make four sides and a bottom and glue them together?  The fun thing for me in the project was to describe a somewhat different use for a simple little box.  I had fun doing it though and my daughter is having fun using it.  Maybe some of you can use this idea for yourself or someone that you know.

Your comments are welcome and you can get them to me by the e-mail address below.


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