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19…Let’s Build a Jewelry Box…Part 2…Vacuum Press

“Success comes from knowing that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.”
…John Wooden (legendary UCLA Basketball coach)

This episode is part of the Let’s Build Series

Woodworking Tips and Techniques:

1.) Cutting 45 degree miters using a flat board miter sled on the Table Saw.
2.) Cutting dadoes on the Table Saw using a Sacrificial Fence.
3.) Sneaking up on table saw cuts with the aid of shims.

In this online video tutorial we continue the woodworking process of using an exotic wood in the construction of a decorative jewelry box. The walls and base of this wooden box have Koa wood veneers on both sides along with a core of 1/4″ MDF. The veneers were sliced on the bandsaw, then laminated to the cores of MDF, and finally placed in a vinyl bag of a vacuum press to allow the glue to completely set overnight.

Koa wood veneer packets in a vacuum press

In Part 2 of this fine woodworking project we begin by releasing the clamps of the vacuum bag and remove the koa wood veneer packets. It’s time to see how our glue-up went and it is good to see that the packets are straight and flat. Since there is residual glue on the edges and veneer tape on the flat surfaces our next job is to clean up the packets. We will perform this task at the workbench with the aid of a woodworking vise and a few workshop made bench dogs to hold the packets in place. With the packets laying flat we can scrape and remove the excess wood glue and veneer tape. Then we can clean the edges of the wood veneer packets in the wood vise by using a hand scraper and a block plane.

Once the veneer packets have the exterior glue removed we can turn our attention to the open drum sander and sand the packets to a uniform thickness of 7/16″. We also benefit from this sanding as these surfaces will be prepared for the danish oil finish prior to gluing the miters of the jewelry box walls. The reason behind this is that the interior will be more difficult to sand when the box is built.

Koa wood veneer packet on the drum sander.

Now that the veneer packets are of uniform thickness we can rip the walls to a desired width. Then we can cut the rabbets of the side walls on the table saw using dado blades along with a sacrificial fence. These rabbets run along the bottom of the walls of the wooden box and eventually the base will be fit and glued within these rabbets.

The next step of our operation will be to focus on cutting miters for the walls corners. These miters are cut using a 45 degree flat board miter sled for the table saw. We need a pair of long walls and a pair of end walls. In order to ensure that each pair of walls have uniform lengths we use a stop block that is clamped to the push/pull fence. Now, we take our time as we guide the precision sled through the sharp table saw blade. When all the miters are completed for the four walls we head back to our woodworking bench for the fitting of the miter joints.

On the bench we lay our koa wood veneer packets down and lay out the desired grain orientation. We arrange that the walls exterior are facing up and the miter joint edges are aligned end for end. We now tape across the miters with blue tape. Next we flip the walls on edge to join the miters. With the miters formed we proceed to use spring clamps to hold the miters tight and in place. We now have the appearance of a box taking shape. However, we need to make sure the configuration is square. For this we measure diagonally across the opposite corners to check for an equal measurement. When the diagonals lengths are a match we are ready to move forward.

We proceed with the fitting of the base into the rabbets that were previously cut. This is a delicate job as we want a nice, tight fit. There is no measuring in this situation. It is just a matter of placing the base where it is suppose to go and marking length and width with a sharp pencil. We start by marking the length and then cutting the base on the table saw using a cross cut sled with a stop block.

Woodworking Tip
When we return to fit the bottom we are just a touch long. So, we return to the crosscut sled and fold a piece of paper to use as a shim between the veneer packet and the stop block. The result is a perfect fit for length. Now it is just a matter of cutting the correct width for a good tight fit.


The Apprentice and The Journeyman University

18…Let’s Build a Jewelry Box…Part 1

“Don’t let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it.”
…Earl Nightingale

This episode is part of the Let’s Build Series

Woodworking Tips and Techniques:

1.) Slicing wood veneer on the Band Saw.
2.) Laminating veneers.
3.) How to veneer using a Vacuum Press.

Woodworking tools for this episode include the band saw, table saw, and the vacuum press.

As woodworkers we seek to challenge ourselves as a way to improve our craft. Sometimes we take on a fine woodworking project to learn new techniques of the wood craft. As a result, this requires us to hone our current woodworking skills and also forces us to broaden our range of skills. One way to test ones performance is to work with a minimum amount of material to see if the project can be completed with accuracy and efficiency. This was the goal of creating a jewelry box with beautifully grained premium curly Koa . Our challenge in this how to article and video series is to build a decorative jewelry box of koa wood veneer. We will be using a vacuum press to laminate the veneers.

In the Hawaiian language Koa means brave, bold, fearless, or a warrior. This is the mindset we adopt for our woodworking project as we choose to work with confidence and efficiency. We will draw upon all of our skills and experience developed over our time practicing our woodcraft and we now focus on mastering the techniques required for this project at hand. Are you game? Let’s begin!

The Band Saw…slicing wood veneer.

We are going to cut veneer to a thickness of 3/32. First of all, in order to make this happen we will need to account for band saw “drift.”

How do we determine band saw drift?
We will take a straight and flat piece of scrap wood about 2” wide x 20″ long and scribe a straight line along its length. We will set the regular band saw fence aside and then we’ll free hand the cut along the line. After about 12″ – 16″ of cutting we now have a good idea of the angle of drift. Next, we keep the board in place and use a bevel square to reference the drift angle. Then we’ll align the band saw fence to the newly found drift angle by using the bevel square while also allowing a 3/32″ clearance between the fence and the band saw blade. Now, we will want to test the setup for accuracy. To do so we just take another piece of scrap (to replicate our good stock) and run it through the band saw. When we have a straight and parallel section of wood veneer sliced at 3/32″ we are ready to proceed. We need to take our time and be patient because the setup is worth it. With accuracy comes our reward in the form of confidence and efficiency.

Why not use the original band saw fence for slicing wood veneer?
There is a better way. Notice that the workshop made band saw fence in the woodworking video is tall to accommodate for wide veneers. The tall fence allows the us to push the stock forward while assuring the material is pressed against the fence. On the other hand, the wide base of the fence allows us an area to adequately clamp the fence to the band saw table. Note:The fence must be 90 degrees to the base. (Building an accurate shopmade, made band saw fence for ripping wood veneer is one of the good small wood projects for those new to woodworking as it can easily be constructed with scrap materials such as MDF or plywood. Keep in mind…The material selected must be flat and straight.)

What if I don’t have any push sticks?
If we want to play in the Big Leagues we will need the necessary skills, equipment, and attitude. We want to always work safely!
We make a variety of push sticks and we keep them handy. Keep our hands and fingers clear of the band saw blade.

Laminating Veneers
Woodworking tips….
Preparation makes a difference. We want to allow enough space on our woodworking bench for gluing our veneers to the 1/4″ MDF cores. In this case we will use yellow glue. We will need veneer tape to join the veneers on both sides of the MDF core. (As you can see in the woodworking video a scrap block was used to spread the glue as well as an acid brush.) Also, we will need some blue tape to fasten the veneer packets once they are glued. Remember, we will need to work fast due to the glue’s setup time. So, we need to stay focused and get the veneer packets into the vacuum press asap. Note: On the day of gluing the veneers it was over 100 degrees so we had to work quickly and efficiently.

Using a Vacuum Press.
We want to allow plenty of space for the vacuum bag. We also want to have a platen prepared to cover our veneers packets as well. In the video we cut a particle board platen to the overall size of our veneer packets. (To protect the bag from potential tears we round over the corners of the platen.) Once the packets and platen are in place in the vacuum press bag then it is just a matter of sealing the vacuum bag with the provided clamps and turning on the vacuum pump.

Watch the woodworking video…Let’s Build a Jewelry Box…Part 2


The Apprentice and The Journeyman University

Koa Wood for a Woodworking Project

For this new woodworking project we have created the challenge for ourselves to build a jewelry box using a limited amount of material on hand. The Koa wood for this woodworking plan was purchased on the Hawaiian island of Kauai three years ago while on vacation. Since the wonderfully grained exotic wood is in limited supply we have saved it for the building of fine woodworking projects. This is the remaining material. So, in order to complete the wooden box we will need to focus on accuracy from start to finish while practicing a variety of woodworking techniques. We will need to keep our workshop skills honed to make it happen. Join me as we learn how to make koa wood veneers to build a decorative jewelry box.

Slicing Koa wood veneers on the Band Saw

Recommended Video…Let’s Build a Jewelry Box…Part 1

Woodworking Tips and Techniques include:
Slicing wood veneer on the Band Saw.
Laminating veneers and using a Vacuum Press.
Cutting 45 degree miters using a Flat Board Miter Sled for the Table Saw.
Cutting miters using the Dedicated Miter Sled for the Table Saw.
Using a Sacrificial Fence and Dado Blades to cut rabbets on the Table Saw.
A Glue-up Technique simplified by using tape.
Wood Turning on the Wood Lathe.
Creating a Wedged Tenon Joint.


The Apprentice and The Journeyman University

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