The Phoenixtail aspen boxes

Lid and bottom

I got some nice teak planks from a friend, and I had that nice quarter sawn oak plank from the tree I felled and slabbed. Nice contrasts to the nearly white aspen. I will use the oak for the bottom and the teak for a raised panel top.

The teak smells wonderful when you work it, and the shavings resemble chocolate. This is perhaps the one thing we woodworkers enjoy that very few others will experience: the smell of the wood when we work it. We who remember Y2K probably know the smell (and taste) of a cedar pencil. But few people know how wonderful teak and oak smell! That being said, if you haven’t taken a whiff of fresh cut (green) elm, you’ve missed nothing. Some call it “piss elm”, and I can verify that it is a good nickname… Anyhooo….

I cut the planks to rough length, ripped the teak plank (since it was a lot thicker than necessary) on the band saw, jointed the edges with a spring joint and glued them into a bookmatched panel. Some yellow masking tape acted as a hinge.

As for how to glue teak (and other oily woods), I’ve successfully used regular wood glue in combination with a good clean with acetone. If you want to try it, do it correctly: soak a rag in acetone, rub the surfaces with it using a clean patch of the rag per stroke. Do not do the Mr. Miyagi here; if you rub back and forth, you’ll only move the oily substances around.

Some recommends PU glue, but that is a hot mess I don’t want to go anywhere near if I can avoid it. Hide glue is an option, but I chickened out and did the failsafe. When in doubt – C4!! Or epoxy, depending on what the wanted outcome is.

After the glue had cured (Titebond for the oak panel), I cut the panels slightly oversized on the band saw after marking the outline with my marking gauges and a marking knife. I then planed to the lines. That way every single face is dead square to every mating face.

I decided to make a raised panel for the top and bottom, where the top has a hand planed chamfered raise and the bottom has a square raise.

Using the Veritas marking gauges, I laid out the rabbet on all four sides. I used a chisel for the cross grain work and a Stanley 78 for the side rabbets. The router plane initialized (to make a start for the 78) and finished the rabbets.

Here’s a neat trick you can use with those marking gauges / wheels – use the sharp cutter (it is not a rotating wheel) as a router plane to take very thin shavings off:

Taking off a sliver…

Dead accurate! I then planed the chamfer on the top panel with a block plane after marking where to plane to.

I then glued up the box. The panels are glued with a few drops of glue in the middle of one side. This locks the panel in place with a long grain to long grain glue joint, and enables the wood to move during the seasons. I used a drop of super glue and activator spray to lock the panels in place until the Titebond glue cured.

On the next page we’ll form the outside, cut the lid off, install hardware and apply finish.

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