Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Shaping box sides and running molding

I have had some questions about how I shape the box sides for the kits for the Charles Neil box.

I start with rough sawn 5/4 curly maple.

I cut this into 24" long pieces and run 1 face over my old jointer to get a somewhat flat face.. I then take it and plane to 1 and 3/16" thick. I then joint 1 edge square. Take to the table saw and rip to rough width. I then joint 1 edge again. The rip to final width, in this case 4 and 3/4" wide.
Now the fun part starts. Can you feel the grain in a fresh planed board and tell what direction it goes? I have to, no choice. I first mark to top face of the board in chalk. I then look at and feel the edges to see which way the grain runs. With figured wood , its like cat fur. Its not easy, but you best figure it out. When I run this through the molder, I can't lose it with chips being ripped out and grain torn. Makes expensive charcoal. [That's another story for another time. Yes I do make charcoal out of scrap wood] It not a perfect method, but it helps if I can tell which way the grain runs , so I can see where the piece will feed the best through the molder. I mark an arrow showing me the way I want it to run. Then I have to figure out which way the molding will go through the molder. It all takes time.

Once that is all done and marked on the board, I lay out the molding on the end of a piece, so I can cut rabbets down the piece to make it easier to run the piece through the molder without taking so much meat out in 2 cuts. Yes this molding is done in 2 cuts in figured wood with a 1984 Williams and Hussey molder. Pretty darn good machine.
Here is what the rabbets look like in the boards.

Next , you set up the molder and check your depth of cut. You need 3/8" on either side of the molding for the feed rollers to grab on to. You can see the heartwood in some of the pieces above. I can still get good stock out of all that, as long as the heartwood does not show up in the front side. It does not bother me if there is heartwood in the inside of the box. Plus the figure deeper in the log is always better.

 Next I start running the pieces through. Here is the first pass. I need to get a dust hood for this machine. It is blowing out lots of shavings and pieces. If you stand in the way , its like getting peppered with buckshot.
After everything is run through once, you make 1 turn of the handle and do the second pass.
Once they are done with the second pass , comes quality control. You look at each piece and cull out any with chips, torn grain or dark heartwood on the show face. I have a pile of stock that I have set off to the side. I can still cut side pieces from it, it just will not be all from 1 board. Some will just be burned. I want to give some away to the local high school for kids to try and make some boxes. They don't have to be the same size of box. But at least the kids can make some use out of it.

 This is what they look like after the first pass.

 Here they are after the second pass. This run turned out real nice. I am sending out about another 8 kits today. Let me know if any of you still want some sides or kits. Other wise I will tear the machine down and change over to something else. I can always make up more, but it will not be the fast turnaround as right now. Thanks for reading. Hope this is interesting.

Pretty nice looking grain.


  1. Very interesting Bob. Thanks for going to all the trouble to do this for us.

  2. No trouble at all. Just wanted to show what has to be done to do it the right way. bob

  3. That moulder is a beast! I like the placement of the chip barrel in the background, its going everywhere but there....its the thought that counts, right?

    Great blog BTW. Your write ups are well documented and humorous. I am following them.


  4. Thanks Jason. Yep , the barrel was placed as best I can. But it goes all over the place. This run was better then the first. Had lots of barrels full. That little molder is one nice machine. Good company that backs their product well. It only has a 2 hp motor, but cuts great. Glad you like the blog. Its good to know people like it. bob