First project, a sewing box #1: Getting started

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For my first fine woodworking attempt, I’m building a sewing box for my wife. After all, it’s because of her that I even have a woodshop. I have always built things she wanted, like this gazebo:

But then she started asking for things like sewing boxes, quilt chests etc, etc… I told her those are things I can’t build with a chop saw and a framing nailer. “Buy whatever you need then,” she says. Bless her heart.

So, I have enough toys to try to build that sewing box she wants. It’s basically an antique style cantilever system. There will be three levels on each side, but with a twist. She wants a drawer in the bottom section that she can store her cutting mats in.

Since I’m new to this fine, detailed work ,I chose Ash as the wood to use. It’s cheap, and she loves the grain and color.

I started today by cutting the pieces for the bottom section to 1/2" over length, then ran them through the jointer and planer just until they were square and smooth. I’ll let them rest a few days and take a little more off until I get to the final thickness of about 5/8".

Please do me a favor…if you see me doing something completely wrong, how about a heads up. Oh, and try to keep the laughing to a minimum, quiet snickering is totally acceptable though.

-- Where are the band-aids?---Pro Libertate!

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Thanks Bob. The sewing box will have 5 boxes, so that’s 20 corners. Once it’s done, I think I’ll pass on any project requiring dovetails for awhile. My wrists are killing me this morning.

-- Where are the band-aids?---Pro Libertate!

Here is the latest attempt. I’m getting closer, if I just hold off the base line a bit more I may actually create a usable joint:

And some of the previous attempts:

-- Where are the band-aids?---Pro Libertate!

Mike, off to the right of the gazebo is the pool. The wife bought me a floating cooler that looks like a giant fishing bobber. It holds about 6-7 beers. I also have a big cooler on the deck near the grills and smokers where I spend much of my time. It holds a lot more than 6 or 7 ;)

Ladylefty, the flowers do attract a lot of bees and hummingbirds. In the 5 years it’s been there, not one sting has ever occurred. My best friend is allergic to bees and always carries his epi-pen. He hangs out on the gazebo all the time.

Now for a sewing box update…

I went to bed last night disgusted with the whole idea of dovetails. I was determined to get up and go to the mill for some walnut to make splined miters.

I got up this morning at 4:30 and had some coffee. Then I slapped myself around and gave myself a good talking too. I’m not going to let a stupid little joint beat me. I spent another 8 hours in the shop today laying out, cutting, paring, fitting, cussing, sawing off, and starting over. Lather, rinse, repeat. Hundreds of little pins and tails litter the shop floor and I swear I heard the chickens in the back yard laughing at me. No matter though. I will get through this. I think I need a better saw and better chisels though. Trying to use a Lowes Kobalt brand backsaw and el-cheapo Kobalt chisels is holding me back. To be honest, I think it’s the saw more than the chisels. I managed to hone them damn sharp, but they don’t hold an edge worth a crap. I think it’s time to hit mama up for some new tools. Shouldn’t be a problem. She’s pretty much given me carte blanche as far as tools go, but I can’t cripple the house budget by going hog wild.

I wonder how hard it would be to cut dovetails with a band saw…

-- Where are the band-aids?---Pro Libertate!

I spent several hours in the shop today. Took some time to tune up the miter saw since the cross-cut sled needs re-squared now that I finally got the table saw blade aligned with the slot. I didn’t have any plywood big enough to do the 5 cut method; maybe tomorrow.

I was originally going to use hand cut dovetails for the sewing box, but after several attempts on practice wood I am abandoning that idea. Instead I think I’m going to go with splined miters. I really wanted dovetails, but that’s life.

I did get some of the ash planed down to 3/4 today. That’s going to be the bottom box. I want it heavier because that’s where the handle will attach and this looks to be one heavy sewing box.

Tomorrow I’m off to the mill again. I think walnut will make nice splines. I also need some cherry. Maybe I’ll get some pics posted tomorrow.

-- Where are the band-aids?---Pro Libertate!


That really is a lovely gazebo. I love all the flowers, but not so sure I would want to sit there if they attract bees. (I’m afraid of bee stings.)

Keep praying. “The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” James 5:16 Not all answers are “yes.” Sometimes it is “no” or “wait.”

We know you’ll produce a great sewing box for your wife. . . so you can get even more tools!


-- “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” Benjamin Franklin

Thanks for the compliment but, it’s not nearly the same Gary. A gazebo is basic carpentry. I did some math on a piece of cardboard and built it. This type of woodworking is a completely different animal.

That’s where I went wrong the first time. I just hacked the wood to size right off the bat and suffered the consequences. I’ve since learned that this isn’t carpentry, it’s woodworking. In carpentry, if something doesn’t fit, I’ll whack it off with the chop saw. In woodworking, if something doesn’t fit, I’ll carefully trim it with a razor sharp chisel and pray I don’t screw it up.

My prayers have pretty much gone unanswered.

Thanks again for the compliment on the gazebo. It is unique. The wife couldn’t decide if she wanted solid sides or balusters, so I gave her both. After seeing it, she wanted window boxes hung off the solid sides. I think it really sets it off. She puts hanging baskets over the baluster sides with wind chimes and hummingbird feeders over the window boxes. It’s a very nice place to sit in the summer.

-- Where are the band-aids?---Pro Libertate!

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