12 April 2016

Box on a box from a woodworker's muse

Upon learning of my interrupted employment stint in Hangzhou, I realized that I quickly had to make some lemonade. I needed both to gather boxes to begin packing upon up my sundry belongings and to decide what to do with all the scrap pieces of wood that I had held onto as is my wont, some of which I had actually brought from Nanjing, and couldn't bring myself to bundle up again and schlep back. And then an idea came to me!
I ended up accumulating several offcuts of glulam. On the low end, the boards have the density of punky white cedar. The cheaper stock also tends to lack glue in many of the finger and butt joints so it can often fall apart as it is being cut to size. I've made use of this for adjustable shelving. On the high end of the price and quality range, it is made from something called Scots Pine or Scotch Pine, perhaps.  I don't know whether this refers to a specific species, a market term, or a bit of both.  This sort of material is used extensively in China, in fabricating interiors and furniture. Laminated plywood is rather rare here and tends to be of very low quality. The glulam is stable, relatively knotfree, and comes in the metric equlivalent of 4'x8' sheets. There are also DIY boards imported from Germany which I used for the main pieces of my DTC because my previous manager wouldn't buy dimensioned lumber wider than 2"x10".
low end glulam

High end glulam

I considered cutting out oval handles in the two short pieces, leaving them wider when I cut grooves in the bottom and then assembling the box with dovetails. I just happened to have a scavenged piece of resawn beech (from Germany, too!) that quasimiraculously fit perfectly into the bottom groove. I have a muse who guides through the construction and design process. She grants me inspiration and is named Moulariprionia. Since she lacks an MFA, speaks Danish and not classical Greek, and inspires members of the working class, she is often left out of the roster of muses.
The first inspirational phase
After it was fully assembled, I realized that the the excess bit of wood on the short sides was not large enough for cutting out holes for handles so I instead fabricated a set of handles with undercuts for fingerholds. More use of the nonstructural pallet wood.
Muse eye view
And then there were a few other pieces that seemed to assemble themselves as the muse whispered to me in evocative, breathy, stichic verses. The top short pieces were wider and further ripped down 1.5 cm wider than the long pieces. Again using a tablesaw, I cut the grooves to receive the bottom panel this time by referencing from the top edge. The dovetails were oriented to get 'squeezed' by the base uprights. I don't know whether this makes for a stronger assemblage but it looks cooler.
The inverse of the base box

Partial access and stackable

The assembled box on a box

To be honest, I came across a slightly similar tray design when I was updating my plans for a Japanese style toolchest, the interior details of which are promoted by Chris Hall in the Craftsmanship in Wood forum at the Carpentry Way.  He has designed removable, stackable chisel trays which fit onto interior partitions. His examples might have planted a seed but my muse insists otherwise. I encourage anybody who finds himself here to head over there and ask for an invitation to Craftsmanship in Wood.


WHerzog said...

Nice design of two stackable boxes. I like it.
What material did you ise for the bottom? Innwhich direction runs the grainof the bottom?

Potomacker said...

Since the bottom board fits into an enclosed groove, I don't think it matters which way the grain is oriented. As I pointed out, it was a piece of 'accidental' beech veneer from Germany that was resawn and discarded as too thin for class projects for which the material was specifically purchased.Originally the stock was 9/4 large and I think the thickness was about 5/16"