Adding Chamfers

There was certainly a little creativity and cleverness that I put into the design of this box. Because of that, I have enjoyed the process of making them. Yesterday, I had three batches in various stages of completion and began detailing one group.

Anniversary Box Open

Chamfering the Edges

The first step was to chamfer the edges. This detail makes the edges stronger, more comfortable to handle, and more tidy in appearance.

For my prototype, I simply used a file to add the 45-degree bevels to all the edges. It was a slow process – if I had to guess, I’d say it took 20-30 minutes to add the chamfers to one box.

That time requirement was too much for my timeline and budget, so I searched out a carbide chamfer bit with the smallest pilot available. I found this bit with a brass pilot at Infinity Tools. I buried most of it in a scrap piece of particle board for maximum support of the workpiece and safety.

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The router bit helped speed things along immensely, but since each box had 68 edges which needed to be chamfered, it still took a while. When I found my rhythm, I found that I was able to chamfer the edges of one box in about 90 seconds.

Some Rejects Due to Damage

In the process of detailing, I found some problems with tearout from a previous operation. This box was rejected because of that.

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Not All Damage Results in a Reject

In many large-scale production environments, a box like this would likely have been rejected. But this wasn’t your average production environment – I set this one to the side. I haven’t decided yet what to do with it, however.

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Finishing the Chamfers

The router bit did the bulk of the work and created even chamfers. It did not reach into the corners, so I had to clean up the 16 corners of each box by hand, using a file.

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I later switched to a chisel to cut the chamfers and continued to use the file to fine-tune as required.

This was a 1/4″ butt chisel that I modified, by cutting off the handle and regrinding the blade, for chopping dovetails. For this application, its short length was the greatest benefit that allowed easy one-handed control.

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Fun Shots

While detailing the boxes, I got inspired to take some pictures with my camera and tripod.

I am a member of Inlet Artists, a group of Port Moody artists working together on a project called Hands That Shape Our Community. The project celebrates local artists with photos of them creating their art and including their hands in the photos.

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A Reminder

I am offering these boxes for only $50 until the end of November. This price includes shipping within North America and I am donating $5 from the sale of each box to the Canadian Cancer Society.

The Anniversary Box has a way of fascinating people who handle it and I know that, as a reader of my blog, you’ll appreciate it.

Your investment in an Anniversary Box shows your support for my blog, my career, and cancer research. I expect to ship the boxes around the end of November.

Links:

Squirrel-Tail Palm Plane

I have many hand planes, but this Squirrel-Tail Palm Plane is among my most-used.

Squirrel-Tail Palm Plane

This plane is a very simple tool.  The investment-cast steel body incorporates a squirrel-tail handle that nestles in my palm and a divot on the toe where I can set my index finger.  The mouth width is non-adjustable.  Both the plane’s sole and blade’s back are lapped flat, making set-up of the tool easy.  Adjustments to the projection and skew of the blade are best done with light hammer taps and it is secured with a cogwheel screw.

I use this plane exclusively for rounding over and chamfering edges, so I set the blade of this plane much like I do for my spokeshave when working on rounded parts.  Instead of setting the blade so that it projects evenly on each side, I intentionally skew the blade, giving me a variable depth of cut.  This way, I can quickly begin to establish the round-over or chamfer using the left side of the blade.  Then, by simply sliding the plane sideways to engage the other edge of the blade, I can fine-tune the shape.  No adjustments are required.

I chose this plane for the task because it is small and lightweight, which allows an easy, one-handed grip.  This is how I grip the plane.

Having a small plane dedicated to chamfering and rounding over edges is certainly not necessary, but it is very convenient.

Construction of “Table with a Twist” – Part 3: Top and Finishing


This is the third post on the construction of my Table with a Twist.  The first post covered the making of the legs and the second post covered the aprons.

The tabletop was the last main component to be made.  I had selected a premium piece of figured maple which I milled to about 42″ x 12-1/2″ x 1-1/8″.  As usual, I focused on proportions over even numbers.  I knew that a rectilinear top wouldn’t suit the overall design of the table so I planned to introduce some curves.  To ensure the top was symmetrical, I made two templates from my favourite template stock – 1/4″ MDF.  One template was for the front edge and the other was for the ends.  The back was left straight.  I cut the templates out using my bandsaw and used a stationary belt sander to smooth the edges.  Then I traced their shapes onto the maple top and used the jigsaw to cut close to the line.

After securing the templates to the top, I used a template bit to finish the profile.  The large-diameter bit made a very smooth cut and took large shavings, even on the end-grain.

After shaping the top, I set it on the base to see how it looked.  The 1-1/8″ thick top was too visually heavy and adding a small chamfer or round-over would not have been enough to lighten the top.  To make the top look less chunky, I chose to bevel both the top and bottom.  But instead of using the same profile on each side, I used a standard 45-degree chamfer bit on the bottom and a low-angle panel-raising bit on the top to create a wide bevel.

To attach the top to the base, I used wooden buttons.  I cut them on the tablesaw and drilled screw holes with the drill press.  Can you see the mistake I made?

After having completed the first batch, I noticed that the grain was oriented the wrong way.  With the grain running this way, the tongue, to the right in the picture, could have easily broken off if stressed.

Once I made the new buttons with the grain oriented properly, the power tools were retired.  Next, I gave everything a careful look over and lightly sanded all surfaces with 180x sandpaper.  Before finishing, I cleaned the wood by wiping it down with alcohol.  The last step was to apply a couple coats of spray-on polyurethane followed by wipe-on polyurethane to build up a protective, scratch-resistant finish.

I’ll leave you with my favourite picture of the table.  I hope you’ve enjoyed the process as much as I have.