Boxing Up the Scrap Pile

The HB Tansu project that I just finished, made good use of the lumber that I purchased.  I designed it so that it would generate a minimum of scrap based on what is available at the Big Box stores.  Even so there is a certain amount of inevitable scrap.  Of course, in reality, I don’t consider any piece of wood as scrap.  Consequently my pile of pieces has grown to be far too large.  I decided that before I begin another tansu I would make as many things from the scrap pile that I possible could.

box-3I spent most of the week getting my tools in back in order.  Everything was sharpened and oiled.  All the planes were dismantled, cleaned and oiled.  The shop floor didn’t get swept but I’ll get to it….eventually.  I then turned my attention to the scrap pile taking stock of what I had available to work with.  I then spent a couple of evenings sketching out some ideas, but nothing was working for me.  Saturday morning I decided to just wing it.

box-2I started with a chisel box.  I recently bought a few new chisels and needed something to put them in.  I need to write a post about these chisels but I want to use them for at least another large project before I can really tell you anything definitive about them.  To arrive at the size for the storage box I laid the chisels on the bench and made a tick mark on my wood for the length and the width.  The joinery I used for this box was based on a photo that I had seen of an antique Japanese box.  The joints are just finger joints that change orientation at the each corner and are then pinned.  The joinery works but it’s a hassle to hold everything together during assembly.  I won’t be using this joinery again in the future.  The box is strong but way too much work to wrestle all the pieces together.  I added a groove to three sides to receive a sliding lid.  The lid will make use of some of the left over birch ply.  The interior was just a matter of accommodating the chisels.  I added a keeper over the blades so that I can stand or lean the box at the end of the bench while I’m working and the chisels won’t fall out.  To retrieve a chisel I just have to lift, tilt and slide the chisel from its slot.  I almost have this chisel box done.  There is some cleanup on the lid and I want to add some decoration to the lid as well.

box-1The rest of the stock that I had available was long, but fairly narrow in width.  Most of the pieces were around 2″ or less.  These pieces were just about right for making pencil boxes. So that is what I did.  The design is based on one presented by Paul Sellers in his Masterclasses series.  I modified it to suit my stock though.  These boxes are dovetailed together and have a sliding lid.  The lid is shaped as a raised panel and I added some hillbilly inlay (kolrosing) for decoration.  I managed to have enough stock for two pencil boxes.  One is slightly shorter than the other, but still plenty long enough to serve its purpose.  The decorated one is ready for shellac and the other still needs a bit of work.

The remaining pieces were too narrow for pencil boxes and I settled on a storage tray.  This one will live beside my chair in the living room and hold the odds and ends that I always seem to have piled up on the side table.  This tray is assembled with a single dovetail at each corner and will have a birch ply bottom.  The frame is in the clamps and I’ll get a bottom on it tomorrow evening.

I have no idea of any of the sizes for these boxes.  The chisel box is big enough to hold my chisels.  The pencil boxes are long enough to hold pencils and the tray is sized to my largest piece of remaining birch plywood.  There is something liberating about making something useful with no plan and no measurements.  I’ll complete these boxes this week and apply a finish to them.  That will put a couple of pencil boxes in the gift pile for Christmas and the scrap pile is a little smaller.

Greg Merritt

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8 Responses to Boxing Up the Scrap Pile

  1. Small boxes are also good for putting a gift certificate in. I gave boxes away at xmas with my daughters favorite candy in it. They get candy and a box they can use for something else.

  2. joemcglynn says:

    Wow – I love the Kolrosing, that’s a neat decorative technique. And a perfect decoration for a pine box. It would look great with chip-carved accents, that would be a lot of fun to play around with.

    • gman3555 says:

      Hi Joe,

      Kolrosing comes in handy for adding a little decorative touch to projects made from light colored wood. It can be simple and crude, like most of my stuff, or very intricate. All you need is a sharp knife and something dark to rub into the incised lines. I use instant coffee to fill my lines. The design really pops once the shellac is added.


      • joemcglynn says:

        I’ve looked at the hook knives from Pinewood Forge before, thinking that it would be fun to carve some spoons — I’ve done a couple in the past with both power tools and with chisels and a gouge. They make nice presents, and I can imagine a bit of Kolrosing or simple incising or carving would really set them off. Dangerous territory, I can see a detour in my future.

        • gman3555 says:

          There you go again trying to saddle me with the blame for getting you sidetracked. LOL Spoons are fun, especially in green wood. I have the Mora crook knife and it works pretty well. It’s a little tricky to sharpen though. For some really nice examples of kolrosing do an image search for “saami knfe sheath”. Amazing stuff.

  3. bloksav says:

    Uh to clean up the pile is a huge project.
    I always hope my boys will want to make something out of all the stuff that is in there, but they always want something else..
    Boxes is a great idea. According to my wife you can never have too many small wooden boxes. So maybe I should copy you one day.

    • gman3555 says:

      Hey Jonas,

      Scrap piles are relative the size of the shop. Kinda like goldfish. They only grow as large as their container allows. Yes, boxes are always useful, but please aspire to higher goals than to copy my pitiful efforts. 🙂


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