William & Mary Bible Box Completed

I finally finished my reproduction of the William & Mary bible box I have been working on. If you missed the previous posts about it, you can check them all out, including pictures of the original, here: William & Mary Bible Box Posts.

To give you the short version, this project was a group build with my woodworking club, the Central Jersey Woodworker’s Association. I co-mentored the build with our club president, and each group member built their own box. We met as a group four times, once a month from January through April, to discuss key steps in the build process. Then each member went back to their own shop to complete that phase of the build. For certain specialty tasks, like the veneering and turning, we did those at the mentor’s (Frank’s) shop so that everyone wouldn’t have to invest in specialty tools that they may not have. Overall it was a really fun project.

My biggest take-aways:

  • Veneer work is fun stuff! Everyone should try it.
  • Turning small items on the pole lathe is a bit of a challenge. One needs to be sure to leave an extra 4 to 6″ where the drive cord wraps around for turning small things like the feet for this box. For long items like Windsor chair legs, it’s not a big deal. You can just turn the leg end for end in the lathe and continue to go at it. For turning small stuff though, having extra length is the way to go. I didn’t have that here (the blanks were designed to fit Frank’s Jet lathe) and I struggled a bit with the turning (not just because of the short blanks, but that’s a post for another day).
  • The parting tool isn’t a lot of fun to use on a pole lathe. The skew works much better.
  • The tool rest on my lathe flexes too much. This was the first time I’ve done any serious turning for a piece of furniture on my lathe. Previously it had been only practice pieces and rough turned items for the shop, such as the handles for my tool chest. I hadn’t noticed the flex in the tool rest with those turnings, but it reared its ugly head while turning the feet for this box. So I’ll need to remake the tool rest before I do any more turning. If you make this lathe for yourself, do yourself a favor and use a stiff hardwood for the tool rest and not construction grade lumber. The hem/fir I used just flexes way too much to make a solid tool rest.

Tonight is our club’s annual member showcase meeting where the club members bring in projects to display and talk about. It will also be the unveiling of our group’s finished bible boxes. If you’re in the area, you should stop by. You can get the address from the club’s web site, linked above. There’s no cost for your first meeting, so you have nothing to lose. It’s sure to be a great meeting with lots of really great work on display.

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William & Mary Bible Box, Building it Together

I’ve said it here before, but I think it bears repeating. One of the best ways to improve your woodworking is to get together with other woodworkers. While classes are probably the best way to do this, with local woodworking clubs coming in a very close second, even just going over to a fellow woodworker’s shop and farting around in the shop, trading ideas and methods can greatly accelerated one’s learning curve. You don’t need to have an organized local club to do this. Just find another woodworker who lives near you and get together with them. You’ll be surprised how much you can learn in a short time, even from someone with completely different work habits and methods than you.

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This weekend, our CJWA William & Mary bible box build group had our second meeting to continue working on our boxes. After the last meeting at my shop, the group all did a great job dovetailing their boxes together in preparation for this meeting. For our second gathering, we met at Frank’s shop and discussed different veneering methods, past and present, how hot hide glue works, and how to prepare commercial veneer. We then demonstrated how to prepare the glue and how to hammer veneer the burl to our box fronts. Before veneering our boxes, everyone took a turn hammer veneering a practice piece, even a nine year old (whom I might add was the most confident of the group and did an awesome job). Then we all finished up the day’s work by hammer veneering our boxes. I’m happy to say that everyone left for home with a perfectly veneered box front, ready for rabbets and banding.

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So even if you don’t have an organized club that is close to you, don’t let that stop you from getting the benefits of learning from other woodworkers. Nothing beats first hand, in person experience. I’m sure everyone has at least one other woodworker who lives within a reasonable drive. If you do have a local organization you can get involved with, then don’t hesitate to do so. You are guaranteed to learn from the wide range of knowledge that the members of every organization have. Even if the other members don’t use the work methods that you do (I don’t know too many people who work like me), you will still learn and grow as a woodworker. Not to mention, you will make some great friends along the way!

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Veneering Practice

I spent several fun hours yesterday learning how to veneer from Frank. It was really cool, and I can see how this can be extremely addicting. I gave my new veneer hammer a good test run and think I’m ready to tackle the box front. The piece on top is a demo piece that Frank did the night before coming by my shop so he could show me the steps. It’s pine with a walnut burl veneer field and quarter sawn walnut veneer banding in a herringbone pattern. I scraped it down and put some shellac on it last night. The piece on the bottom is my practice piece from yesterday afternoon. It’s pine substrate with a walnut burl veneer field and maple burl veneer banding. I scraped it down last night as well and applied a few coats of shellac. For my first attempt at veneering, I’m thrilled. This is really cool stuff. You should try it.

Veneer Samples