Cutlery Box, re-sawing the cherry

I’m making a cutlery box for a friend. The structure will be similar to the little jewelry box I made at furniture school but the lid will be a raised panel in a frame and it’ll be quite a bit bigger.

The box will be made from the cherry I bought a couple of weeks ago.

American Cherry

The board is around 40mm thick so I can re-saw to get two thinner boards from each piece. The front and back are 14mm and the side 10mm.

I cut the front/back piece first. The actual length of these will be 488mm but I made a generous allowance for waste especially as I’m working at the end of the board so it might have some cracks penetrating into from the end.

I picked the best side and planed it flat with my ancient Record 5 1/2 plane. This is not a great plane. It’s flat and square but the blade is thin compared with modern planes and doesn’t stay sharp for long. The frog isn’t a bedrock and the plane body isn’t as hefty as most current 5 1/2 planes. I’ll commit to buying a new jack plane soon(ish) but for now the Record will suffice. I used the plane side or my steel rule to check for flat across and along the grain. I put pencil squiggles on the high points and then target these areas with the plane. I also keep a check on twist using winding sticks. Then I squared an edge to my now flat side so I had a reference corner which I can use against the fence on the band saw.

I set a gauge to the required 14mm width and marked this all the way round from the reference side. With hindsight this wasn’t a great plan as we’ll see shortly. I set the bandsaw fence to cut a couple of mm over the required width and made the cut along the grain.

The 14mm gauge line was not so useful because the freshly sawn board decided to celebrate its new found freedom by developing a nice cup along the grain so I had to re-plane the reference side to remove the cup which meant the gauge line was now in the wrong place. Damn.

The good news is that I managed to get a 14mm flat board without having to start again but my process is now:

  • Plane flat reference side
  • Square edge to reference side
  • set band saw fence to 2-3mm over width
  • saw
  • check reference surface is still flat. If not plane to flat.
  • use gauge to mark required width
  • plane other side to mark.

After I’d carefully prepared the back, front and side pieces I cut the front up into bits and glued it back together. Thus I get a box front with a hole in it and a drawer front the fits in the hole and has almost matching grain. ( This was how I was supposed to make the front of the little box but I got carried away with dovetails)

The grain doesn’t quite match up when you glue it back together because you’ve lost the width of the saw kurf and a few plane strokes, but it should pretty much disappear when its all done.

In the next episode we cut a load of dovetails, and find out how delicate that front panel is.

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