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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.

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