Since I first got into working with wood, I have found fellow wood workers to be the most generous lot of folks. So many have helped me along the path to what I am able to do today in so many different ways. Because of this, I feel honored whenever I can help one of those fellow wood workers in any way that I am able.
All that being said, I was recently contacted by a friend and fellow wood worker about a project he needed help with.
Some of you may remember the box joint machine from way back. Well it has cut many joints for me. My friend has a project that he needed box joints cut for. With time of the essence, he just doesn't have the proper tool for the job. So I was hoping I could help him. The plan was for him to ship me the pieces of wood, because the specific pieces of wood are important to this particular project, and I would cut box joints and ship them back to him.
I cut the dark wood first, walnut I believe, and I am glad I did. It showed a problem right away. I have never had tear out with the box joint machine as long as I use a scrap piece of wood to back up the material being cut. I done that here, but still got tear out. I simply cannot explain it. The only explanation I can possibly think of is that, as I understand it, this wood is very old. I know that sometimes old wood can be extremely dry. With walnut being a somewhat brittle wood to start with, this overly dry condition may be causing the problem.
Again, this specific wood is important to this project. I could not cut any off and try again. Besides, I'm not sure trying again would yield different results. I tried with a fresh piece of walnut and did not have this issue. So it has to be this particular wood. So I thought for a bit for a solution.
This is what I came up with.
When you cut box joints, you sometimes come up with your last finger on each end of the board being cut a tad narrower on one side. This is due to the adding up of the many fingers not working out to be exactly the same as the width of the board.
Ordinarily, I would flip the board end to end and have this thinner finger on the same side of each board. As I was thinking though, this would put any potential tear out on the walnut board on the inside on some boards, and on the outside on other boards. However, if I flipped the boards around, this would make it possible to put any and all tear out on the inside of the box. The issue is that this would make the boxes only able to go together one way, and one way only.
With all that being said, I wanted to be sure to avoid any confusion of my friend reassembling the pieces once they arrive back to him.
So on the inside of each corner, on each board, I marked corresponding marks to go back together.
One box is labeled on both side of each corner, 1A, 1B, 1C, 1D.
The other is 2A, 2B, 2C, and 2D.
This makes it possible to easily reassemble everything without problems. All my friend has to do is match corresponding numbers and then lightly sand off the lightly marked pencil marks.
Of course, as with all thin material box joints I've ever had the pleasure of making, it'll probably be necessary to do some creative gluing and clamping to pull the joints up tight upon assembly. Other than that, they'll just require a little finish sanding to pretty them up.
I want to offer my sincerest apologies to my friend that I was not able to get this project done without having some tear out. I tried my best. I done all this though so the tear out is on the inside of the box. With some creative sanding, I honestly believe you can still complete this so that no one will ever notice the tear out without looking for it.
Here are the two boxes assembled.
I will get them disassembled and packaged up. Then I will drop them back in the mail tomorrow if I can beat the mail lady to the box. If not, they will be going out first thing Friday.