Weekend Projects - Alternative amber and briar box archive

Friday 7 August 2015

George Watkins creates this charming little box using pieces of alternative amber and briar acrylic resin

Gallery

For this article I wanted to make a box that I'd never attempted before. I knew that I wanted to combine two colours of acrylic resin and find a way to make the two parts of the box link together. Firstly, I experimented with trying to insert a button/cabochon into the lid of the box, but I wasn't sure about the look of that, so I tried inlaying a ring into the lid, which worked really well. Inlaying the ring can be a bit tricky but with careful measuring and patience, it can make all the difference to the look of the box. If you don't want to make this box in resin, it works equally as well in two contrasting colours of wood, such as boxwood (Buxus sempervirens) and African blackwood (Dalbergia melanoxlyon).

Tools used:

10mm spindle gouge

3mm narrow parting tool

45° 6.5mm homemade hollowing tool

20mm negative-rake skewed scraper

20mm round-nosed negative-rake scraper

STEP 1

The first step is to mount the blank which will become the base of the box in a suitable chuck - the blank I used was alternative amber and measured 50mm wide by 70mm in length. With the blank securely mounted create the outside diameter of the inlay ring using a 20mm negative-rake skewed scraper. I cut this ring 39mm wide by 5mm thick

STEP 2

Clear away the waste material in the centre using either a round-nosed scraper or a spindle gouge, then cut the internal surface of the ring using the 20mm negative-rake skewed scraper. Try to cut this straight and as parallel as possible

STEP 3

Using a pair of internal callipers, check that the inside of the ring is straight and true

STEP 4

Using a narrow parting tool, cut the ring free. Be very gentle at this stage as the rings can sometimes break

STEP 5

The next step is to cut the ring free - you will see that the alternative amber is slightly translucent. To ensure that the colour stays vibrant once it's inserted into the darker coloured lid, it's best to paint the recess in the lid a similar colour to the acrylic ring before gluing it in

STEP 6

Now you can remove the base of the box and mount the lid section into the chuck. You can now start to do some initial shaping of the lid using a 20mm round-nosed negative-rake scraper

STEP 7

Hollow out a shallow curve on the inside of the lid and then, using the 20mm negative-rake skewed scraper, cut a internal tenon trying to keep the sides as straight as possible here

STEP 8

Using a pair of internal callipers, check that the tenon is straight and parallel - if it's not then it can affect the fit of the lid, thus resulting in a poor fit

STEP 9

Starting at 320 grit sand the inside of the lid - but not the tenon - to 800 grit then apply microcrystalline polish. The inside of the lid is now complete

STEP 10

Remove the lid, remount the base section and cut the external tenon to suit the lid, but at this stage, you don't want the final fit of the lid; you want to jam the lid onto the base so you can complete the top. There's a fine line between a jam fit and a loose fit; go slowly and try it for size often

STEP 11

With the lid now jammed on to the base you can shape the top of the lid using the 20mm negative-rake skewed scraper

STEP 12

Using a pair of Vernier callipers, measure the ring's internal and external dimensions and carefully transfer these onto the lid making sure to only touch the resin with the left-hand prong, in a very gentle manner

STEP 13

Carefully cut the recess in the lid using a narrow parting tool - I found it best to cut the inside edge first and make it a tight fit. You can then widen the groove to the outer edge, checking the fit often. Make sure the recess is cut with nice, straight parallel sides

STEP 14

Move the lid, apply a few spots of a medium viscosity Cyanoacrylate glue into the recess then gently push the ring in evenly, making sure it goes all the way in to the bottom of the recess. While the glue on the lid is drying/curing you can return to the base of the box and do some initial shaping using the 20mm negative-rake skewed scraper

STEP 15

Start to hollow out the base of the box - I prefer to remove the majority of the waste with a 10mm spindle gouge but a small scraper also works well

STEP 16

Once the majority of the base is hollowed out, use a small 6.5mm homemade hollowing tool to finish the hollowing. This will leave a smooth finish if you use a gentle touch

STEP 17

Jam the lid back onto the base and using the 20mm negative-rake skewed scraper, gently cut the inlay until it is flush with the box lid

STEP 18

Sand the lid, starting with 320 and working through to 800 grit. After sanding, remove the lid and using a freshly sharpened 20mm negative-rake skewed scraper, take a fraction of the base tenon until the lid is a good fit

STEP 19

Finish shaping the outside of the base ready for sanding

STEP 20

Sand the base starting with 320 and working through to 800 grit

STEP 21

Part off the base and create a jam chuck for it, using either the waste material left in the chuck or a scrap of wood. Very gently clean up the base and sand it as before. Use a three-mop buffing system, if you have one, to buff the box to a mirror finish

STEP 22

The completed alternative amber and briar box should look like this


Woodworkers Institute

Tagged In:

Weekend Projects , George Watkins


Diagrams Click an image to enlarge

Handy Hints

1. I find the alternative resins work better if they are warm. With this in mind, I find it best to keep my resin stock in the house
2. Hold onto the workpiece firmly whilst buffing the piece with buffing wheels
3. Use a very gentle touch when working with resins
4. When making any critical fitting - i.e the lid final fit - make sure both parts are the same temperature, as resin can expand slightly
5. CA glue takes longer to cure on non-porous surfaces so be sure to leave adequate time and always wear eye protection
6. Ensure to use dust extraction and a personal respirator when working with buffing mops as the tiny fibres and dust from the mops can be quite irritant