Sally Wattle Club challenge box


There is no turning at all in this project but I thought some of you might find it interesting and included it anyway.




I was left to choose the timber for this years Club challenge so we lopped some Sally Wattle slabs in half, numbered them, and each entrant drew a numbers from a hat to ensure everyone had the same chance of getting a good or bad slab . . . . and I happened to get the worst of course!!!

The bark inclusion and grub holes ruled out my first idea so I decided to challenge myself by doing something I have wanted to do for years - a box with continuous grain-flow around the sides. Not a big deal in itself so I took it a step further and went for opposing sapwood layers just to make it a bit trickier! This is the slab after cutting the pieces of (hopefully) useable sapwood for the box sides.


With the boards trimmed for best fit of the 2 sapwood edges it was time to split them so they could be 'unfolded' . . . . .


. . . . and imagine my disappointment when I found these big grub-holes hidden within one of them !!$#&%##@!! Too late to do anything but continue as there wasn't anything left to cut another piece from.



The sides were dressed to 10mm thick and then 6mm was rebated from behind the live-edge to house the 6mm thick strip that was dyed with black proof-tint where it would be exposed.

The dyed strips were glued in place to create the box sides which were then cut to length and mitred. As the outside of the box was going to have enough going on with sapwood edges, I decided to use dominos to strengthen the mitres rather then 'keys' or 'splines'. The 4mm dominos had to but shortened to 11mm long and the domino cutter set to it's minimum depth to get it to work but it made assembly of the sides really easy and I would use the same method again in an instant!

Before glue-up I also cut a rebate near the top of each end to house a strip to support the lid and rebates in all sides to house the plywood base. As the box had to be quite deep to fit the opposing sapwood layers, I cut 'arches' along the base before gluing up to give it some visual 'lift'.



The lid was made from a couple of pieces of heartwood whose grain was chosen so the joins would be almost invisible but the only bit of good sapwood left for the live-edge of the lid was too thin on its own so I laminated it to get my 10mm thickness.



To keep with the continuous-grain concept I also made the grain of the tray flow right round but used mitre-keys to strengthen it as there is no way to domino 6mm thick mitres!!!



The lid was hinged by filing the thread off the last 15mm or so of some brass M3 metal-threads leaving just the section that will be in the side of the box with a thread to be screwed in place. You could just use straight pins but I like to make things so they can be maintained and this technique makes it easy to remove the lid if need be.


The box and tray were lined with some leather I had lying around as my usual choice of black velvet would have been a bit too much darkness when combined with the Sally Wattle.



Finished with many coats of Kunos oil I was very happy with the finished article . . . and managed to pull first prize in the competition to boot!!




. . . and all that was left of the slab!



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