Saturday, November 10, 2012

[Schoolbox] - Attaching the Bottom and the Quiet After the Storm

The Hurricane Sandy chaos has finally subsided a bit, and I'm able to take a break from feeding the gas generator. We were among the fortunate. The destruction just 15 minutes north and east of Freehold is truly frightful. We only lost a few trees and suffered some fence damage, and lost power for only 4 days. It seems frequent and violent storms are the new normal in the Northeast. This is the third time in 2 years we have lost power for multiple days. I learned with this storm that there is definately a type of fatigue that occurs from the stress of a situation. You don't even realize it when you're living it. For those who haven't seen the devistation along our shore. We hope everyone is safe and has a speedy recovery.

I counted my many blessings, put on some relaxing music, and dove back in to the Schoolbox. For just a little while I was able to forget about the destruction left by Sandy.

On to attaching the bottom to the sides. Now keep in mind this project is supposed to be built with 19th century methods. So attachment of the base is with hide glue and cut nails. Grain orientation of the bottom runs from front to back as discussed in "The Joiner" to account for seasonal swelling and shrinking. However, I went with a left to right grain orientation because I don't think this box will experience a variety of temperature changes. My air conditioning goes on in March and doesn't get turned off until November.

First step is to apply hide glue to the front and a bit down the sides of the bottom. This should allow for some expansion and contraction since the remainder of the bottom will be attached with traditional cut nails. At this stage the bottom is left proud of the sides and will be made flush with the sides after it is attached. 

You can just about make out the hide glue facing the front of the box

Clamping the bottom to the sides after gluing just the front

While the glue was setting up on the front, I began installing the cut nails. Here I'm using 4d headless brads that I was able to purchase in small quantity from Tools for Working Wood.  I carefully drilled pilot holes for these nails on the diagonal. Nailing on the diagonal is a way to get a little more strength.

Cut nails have a wedge and it's important to configure it to match the direction of the grain

Dividers are used to get exact spacing after the left-most and right-most nails are in 

Nails are angled for extra holding stremgth then nailed home with a nail set

Once the bottom was fastened, it's now time to get it flush with the sides. For end grain I made sure I had a good sharp blade and moistened the ends with denatured alcohol. 

A trick learned from Chris Schwarz. Using denatured alcohol to soften end grain makes planing it easier

Lastly, I used my Lie Nielsen Jack plane to clean up and flatten the outside of the box.

Lie Nielsen Jack plane made quick work of flattening the box

Tails look pretty good


Next step is to install a removable self inside the box. Thanks for looking.


  1. Nice work. I'm looking forward to seeing the next step. I have now fallen behind.

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