Friday, August 16, 2013

Another Aspiring Young Woodworker in the Family

A while back, I blogged about my oldest daughter Casey making a dovetailed keepsake box. I have a younger daughter also, Gillian, who's 11 (12 in eight more days), and she has been on me to get out in the shop and build something since I was laying the brick for the foundation of the new shop. Well we finally got out there to work on something a few weeks back. She chose a sliding lid candle box as her project. I went to the home center and picked out a nice 1 x 6 piece of clear pine and we were all set to go.

To get started, we sketched out a basic plan for the box and determined the size that she wanted and then it was time to start laying out and cutting. I set her up with a 6' folding rule, my striking knife and wooden square for marking a line, and my crosscut backsaw and bench hook for sawing. I also had her chisel a kerf on the waste side of the struck line to give a nice shoulder for the saw to ride against. With just a little instruction, she was on her way. She did a great job crosscutting the pine to size and as long as she remembered to keep an athletic stance and light grip on the saw, she went through it like a pro.

Marking an end with a striking knife and a wooden square.

Sawing to  the line with an athletic posture and a light grip.

Not a bad start!
Once she had the two sides and two ends cut to length, I had her lay out the rabbets in the sides to accept the ends. She marked her lines on the ends with a Hamilton marking gauge set to the thickness of the pine and then marked the end grain to 3/8". After chiseling a kerf on the waste side of the marking knife line, she sawed down to the 3/8" mark and then I had her chisel out the waste with her chisel placed just above the 3/8" scribed line. From there we did a little clean up with a rabbet plane.

Marking a line for the rabbet.

Chiseling out the waste.

Once the rabbets were cleaned up, it was almost time for assembly, but not before making a groove for the top to slide in. My current plow plane only has one iron, and it was wider than we wanted for the groove, so we decided to do it old school. I had her mark the top of the groove with a marking knife on both sides and on one end and then reset the gauge and mark the bottom of the groove on the three pieces, scoring all the lines deeper than normal. Then, armed with a chisel and a mallet, she went to plowing the groove. I showed her how to use the chisel bevel down and start at the far end of the piece and work her way back as she made her groove. Then we used the bottom of the groove to set the height of the front piece where the top would slide over it and cut that to width. Now it was time for some assembly.

Laying out the groove for the top to slide in.

Chiseling the groove.

Working her way back.

We just used yellow glue and some headless brads from Tremont Nail to put the sides together. I set her up with an eggbeater drill and the smallest bit I had, but before she went to drilling I showed her how to lay out even spacing on the nails using a pair of dividers. I'm a big fan of using dividers for measurement. Much less chance for error than when using a rule. She did a good job with the drilling (she didn't break my tiny drill bit) and hammering the nails.

Using the eggbeater, very carefully.

Putting it all together.

After the glue had dried we measured up for the bottom and Gillian cut a piece to length on the bench hook and then ripped it to width on the saw bench with a somewhat fine toothed rip saw I made. She was a natural at ripping. Followed a line as good as any seasoned vet and while keeping everything nice and square. Next was the only tool she really had trouble with, the plane. I'm not sure if the bench was a little too tall for her or if she didn't have enough weight to hold the plane down to the wood firmly, but I ended up doing the planing for her, planing the edge of the bottom until it piston fit in place. More laying out with dividers, boring holes, and nailing to install the bottom. Now for the top.

A natural with the rip saw.

Same routine to start the top as was for the bottom, cut to length and rip to width. Then I planed a bevel on the top for her until it slid smoothly back and forth in the groove. We added a recessed finger pull with a gouge for good measure. Time to pick a finish.

Gillian wasn't sure if she wanted a stained or a painted finish so we took a piece of the pine that was leftover and tried several different stains that I had on hand. After seeing how the stain looked on the pine, she decided she would paint it. Good choice. She liked the milk paint I'd used on my tool chest and I had some left over so that made the decision of color choice an easy one. Two coats of milk paint later and she had a nice little keepsake box that I hope will stay with her for the rest of her life, as well as the memories of building it. I know those memories will always be with me.

The proud woodworker, very pleased with her results.

One of her weapons of choice, my crosscut sash saw.

Great job Gillian!


Jonas Jensen said...

Great looking project

Making such nice things can help boost self confidence in chuildren.
In addition I find that building such things togehter in the workshop is really quality time.

Anonymous said...

That young lady will be successful at whatever she turns her hand to.

Anonymous said...

Great job Gillian. Love the finish you applied to your keepsake box:)

Lots of love,

Anonymous said...

She did a great job on the box, and I'm sure she's happy with it. Question is, what was her opinion of "the process?" Is it a memory with dad, or did you bring another youth into the craft? Just curious...

Again, great job, Gillian.

Jamie Bacon said...


She enjoyed the building process and expressed that she would like to build other things. Bear in mind though that she's a 12 year old girl and what she wants to do one day isn't always what she wants to do the next.

Joshua Klein said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joshua Klein said...

Woah! Awesome first project, Gillian! It looks really well built. I think you've got a future in this thing! I can't wait to see your next project.

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