Saturday, October 10, 2015

Jewelry Box: Final Assembly


OK, with all the pieces milled, fitted and finished, it was time for final assembly.


Teak, being an oily wood, dictated the finish I used on all the parts. Some finishes will sit on top of the natural oils of Teak and end up coming off pretty easily later, but the solvents in lacquer do a good job of getting past the oils and creating a decent bond with the wood fibers. Before spraying the lacquer on the boxes themselves I carefully taped off the inside bottoms because I still needed to glue felt down so the jewelry isn't just rattling around on hard wood surfaces.


Accurately measuring inside dimensions with normal tools such as tape-measures, is pretty dang difficult and I certainly needed the measurements to be accurate so when I was done the felt didn't look like my third-grade collage project.

I suppose I could have added the dividers first then painstakingly cut and fit the felt into all the little, oddly shaped compartments afterwards, but experience has shown me that is a sure way to come up with something that looks like I made it during a kindergarten art session with those round-nosed scissors!

Anyway, the difficulty of taking inside measurements is not a new one and a long time ago I made some measuring sticks of various lengths from some scrap bits of Maple off-cuts, putting a tapered point on one end of each stick. By grabbing two of the appropriately sized sticks and a couple spring clamps I was able to obtain and transfer a very accurate dimension from the inside of the trays to the felt.


Once I had the felt cut and fitted, it was time to glue it down. For this I used a heavy coat of white-glue. White-glue because is dries clear and any screw-ups are harder to see. I spread glue over half the bottom then carefully laid the felt into it, patting it down gently but being very careful not to push too hard nor pull or stretch the fabric.

While the glue was still wet I pulled the other half of the felt back to the halfway point and repeated the process.

To complicate things at this stage, the felt I used came in swatches, none of which were long enough to completely cover the bottom of the larger tray with one piece so I had to use two separate pieces, making sure the joint between them would end up underneath on of the dividers I would add later.


When it came to adding the straight dividers in the large tray I relied heavily on spacers to get everything square and decent looking. I just grabbed whatever scraps where handy and used the table saw to make some spacers. The exact length wasn't as important as making sure they were all the identical length.


Now, without having to do any additional measuring I was ensured of getting everything right where it belongs.

In the photo above the long divider is already glued in place over the seam in the felt and I'm getting ready to glue down a couple of short dividers.


Same process as gluing the felt to the bottom of the trays. A heavy layer of white-glue on the bottom of each divider. (In this photo I haven't yet cleaned up the excess glue on the sides of the divider. If left that glue would wreck the whole 'professional' look of the finished project!)


The each divider was then set down in place making sure there was no smeary sliding to mess things up.

To make sure the glue-bond was strong I then added weights and left each glue-up to dry overnight.


Fitting the dividers into the two smaller trays was slightly different since there was no cutting of spacers to register against.

Some of the dividers, such as the circle segments in the top right and bottom left corners, I simply registered against the tray sides. Others, such as the larger ring in the center, were registered against already installed segments.


In all cases, each piece was carefully glued, positioned and weighted down overnight.


Sometimes that got a little complicated,


But soon it was all done except for the packing and shipping







One last thing was to cut and label samples of the four different woods used in the construction of this jewelry box. 

It's kind of hard to see, but I finished one half of each of these samples with the same laqure used on the rest of the project while leaving the other half natural. It showings up best here on the Teak and Red Heart Cedar samples.


Final thoughts:

It took me about 40 hours of build time. (I didn't count the time spent waiting on glue-ups or finishes to cure.)  I figure that if I were to build it a second time I could cut that down to about 30 hours. So if I pay myself + the shop $20 an hour this project whole-sales for about $600.

I'm never 100% satisfied with any of my projects. I can always find something I wish I had done differently and this one is no exception.

I've not really happy with the way I created the 'key-ways' on the bottom of the two small trays that keep them properly aligned when sitting on the larger tray. I could have done that better.

And I'm not pleased at all with my selection of felt. During construction I made a test 'compartment' with scraps of rails and felt and have been tossing a few odd screws around in it. (I taped it to the pad of my random orbital sander which I clamped upside down to the bench and left running to accelerate the 'wear'.) The lacquer is holding up just find but I'm not happy with the way the felt is wearing.

But not to worry, I already have an order for a second, similar, jewelry box so I have at least one more chance to get it right.



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