Sunday, December 16, 2012

Sliding Lid Box

Making a sliding lid candle box is a fairly easy project. Still, decisions need to be made regarding joinery.

If you research boxes from prior centuries, you'll find ones that are mitered, rabbeted, dovetailed, and butt-joined.

Then there's the question of how to attach the bottom.

Pennsylvania Germans normally nailed or pegged the bottom board onto boxes and drawers, but if you prefer the look of a concealed bottom, you'll need to cut grooves.

If you cut the groove with an electric router, you can make stopped cuts, which means the groove will be completely hidden.

You can also make stopped cuts if you use a chisel, scratch stock, or router plane (and probably a bunch of other ways).

However, if you want to use a plough plane, you'll need to think about the inevitable holes that will result from cutting the full length of the side pieces.

I used a rabbet joint for the back of the box, so the holes disappeared in the groove. However, cutting a rabbet joint in the front of the box is a little tricky when you factor in the groove for the lid.

So, I chose to use a butt joint instead, which left two square holes right in front of the box.

Shape the pegs to fit with an inverted
plane. You'll want to be careful with
that exposed blade.
It's not difficult to cut perfectly square pegs by hand. But if you don't have a plough plane, you can saw or split pegs, then invert a block plane in your vise and shape them to fit.

The box above was made for a friend who loves chip carving and PA German pieces, and who wrote a nice article about me in a local paper (below).

The editor of the paper removed a couple key things that I feel are important lest it give readers the impression that I build high-end pieces, which I obviously do not.

So, I edited the attached—thank you, Photoshop—and my revisions are in red. The text that's been covered with a red bar toward the end of the article is a statement that a good friend made that was way way way too generous. Thanks just the same, Alan.

The dovetailed box in the last image was one that I made at a demonstration, so it's not perfect, but certainly good enough to house scratch stock in my shop.

Feel free to share your methods for concealing the groove—preferably without the use of electric—and another way that you would make these boxes.

I can't think of an easy way to cut a rabbet joint at the front of the box because of the groove for the lid, so I'd love to hear your ideas.


Jonathan Szczepanski said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who uses plugs. Of course when I use them, it's to cover a mistake :-)


Vic Hubbard said...

I disagree, Kari. I think Alan's praise is spot on. You're the one that initially got me interest in any type of ornamentation on my designs. I doubt you'll ever see an acanthus leaf motif on anything I build, but now I'm more open to the possibilities carving brings to the table.

Shawn G said...

I started setting aside the cut offs when I dovetail (I use the bowsaw waste method) then chisel a square to fit the groove gap. You can get pretty close with grain and color that way

Kari Hultman said...

Jonathan, it's the mark of a good craftsman when he can cover his mistakes. We all make mistakes, but making them disappear is another story...

Thanks for saying, Vic. :o)

Shawn, that's a great idea! I didn't pay too much attention to the grain when I plugged the chip carved box, so they're pretty obvious.

Anonymous said...

Just a delicious work, very clean and balanced carving, that is your point it is not a surprised you Kari pleased our sight with uor enormous talent and I do believe all of us always learn something rich from you at any ocassion
Congrats !


Anonymous said...

The carving is a nice touch.

I usually hide through groves by either cutting a mitered shoulder dovetail, or a shallow dovetail. Roy mentions them both during the Joiner's Tool Chest Pt. 1 on the Woodwright's shop season 08-09.

Kari Hultman said...

Thank you, Julio. :o)

FW, those are excellent ideas. I've never cut a mitered shoulder dovetail, but that would look really nice. I'll try that on the next box.

Alan Garner said...

Kari, I would not have said I did if it was not true. Like many, your woodworking self-confidence takes longer to catch up with your skills. Alan

Kari Hultman said...

Alan, you are too kind. I think I need to make a chip carved box for you, too!

J Contract said...

Kari. The carving on this box is incredible. I think you've just inspired me to learn. If I can do this 1/2 as good as yours then I'd be happy. Only question is, how does someone with intermediate woodworking skills (I can cut fairly decent handcut dovetails)
get started with carving like this? Do you have any suggestions?

Kari Hultman said...

J, chip carving is pretty easy. I was fortunate to take a class with Wayne Barton who is a master chip carver. He has written two books—one for beginners and the other for design inspiration. Both are excellent. He also has a DVD which I have not seen, but I imagine is equally as excellent.

I bought both my knives and stones from him. I also made a short video for beginners which might be helpful. Feel free to shoot me an email if I can be of more help. Here is a link to my video:

If that link doesn't work, just go to my youtube channel: VillageCarpenter

momist said...

Kari, I think your modesty is becoming obsessive.

I remember every little mistake I make, and can always instantly see the result whenever I look at something I have made. No doubt, you do the same. When we see your your work, we don't see that, only the grace and beauty of your finished piece. please accept our compliments.

If you redact something someone else has written about you, I am tempted to search out the original to see what I missed.

chris pohlig said...

Miss Kari, do you ever travel to the deep (really deep) south in a professional way? If you ever plan to come to south Louisiana, I hope you'll publish an announcement beforehand.

Kari Hultman said...

Momist, I suppose all woodworkers are harder on themselves than they should be. It must come with the territory. ; )

Chris, I have only been to Louisiana (New Orleans) once and it was many years ago. I don't have any plans to head back, but will certainly post it if I do. I rarely travel farther than an 8-hour drive and I really dislike flying. Train rides are always a possibility, however.

pjped said...


You are just too damn awesome!
That looks like it was carved into a block of caramel.


Anonymous said...

When I look a great carving on the box, your work seems positively lighthearted, especially when contrasted against how much time I have spent working on decent looking mitres as a way to cover the groove. It is fussy. It helps a great deal to have a mitre template (like the Preston brass one, but bigger and made of wood) to get a close 45 degree angle that you can slide your chisel along.