My brother came for a visit and wanted me to demonstrate woodturning a box. I would rather have coached him to turn the box. However, that is all he had time for.
An end grain box is always a good project with lots of potential. Boxes can be both useful and pretty. Many woodturners aim for a suction fit at the joint between the top and the bottom. While this fit may demonstrate skill, the end owner of the box then often must use two hands to open the box. I prefer to make a tight fit to aid in turning the box but relax the fit just before finishing.
The basic process is:
1. Mount wood between centers and round off the wood.
2. Cut tenons on both ends of the box to fit a scroll chuck.
3. Mount the wood in the chuck, true the rough rounding, and part off the top from the bottom at about 66% of the height, allowing for a tenon.
4. Mount the lid in the chuck, hollow, and cut a mortise ensuring the sides of the mortise are parallel.
5. Sand and finish the inside of the lid.
6. Mount the bottom in the chuck and cut a tenon to fit the mortise on the lid. Sneak up on the fit. If the fit is too loose, waste off the tenon and try again.
7. Place the lid on the base, position the live center for security, and shape the exterior.
8. Sand and finish the lid.
9. Sand and finish the base.
10. Relax the joint between the lide and the base.
11. Reverse the base into a chuck for a jam chuck.
12. Finish shape the bottom, sand and finish.
Once the basic process is mastered, many variations and refinements are possible. Wax is a great finish for the interior to avoid trapping strong odors that will persist for a long time.
I prefer finishes that can blend together as the box is finished in stages. These are generally, wax, oils, shellac, or lacquer. Finishes that do not blend well are surface films such as polyurethane or stains.
Music: Traumerei by Shumann performed by Becky Schlappi. Used with permission.