My first task when I started woodworking was learning how to cut boards to length. I did much research on what type of saw I need and how to use them. After studying the very well-done askwoodman and giant Cypress sites on Japanese saws, I purchased a 12” ryoba saw from Japan Woodworker. Incidentally I do like my Gyokucho Japanese saws, but I now have more or less converted to western hand and back saws except for rough carpentry work. I spent much time cutting 2x4s into small pieces while I learned to use the ryoba saw.
My first project with my newly acquired sawing skills and the collection of tools pictured in my last post was to build a small packing box.
This is the initial project presented in The Joiner and Cabinet Maker. The first part of this book by Lost Art Press is a reprinted fictional account of a young woodworking apprentice, Thomas. Originally published in the early 1800s, the book essentially tells Thomas’ story during his years as an apprentice. Along the way it provides instruction on hand tool woodworking shop practice and three projects, a packing box, a school box, and chest of drawers. The second part of this book is written by Christopher Schwarz and he provides additional description (and analysis) on how to build the three projects presented in the original text. I was fascinated with the packing box and its simple construction (wood and cut nails) made it an ideal first project for me as well.
I did not yet have a bench or dedicated place to work, so I built the project on my back patio using a work surface of two plastic sawhorses with a plywood board on top. My packing box was built from 1/2” yellow-poplar and 4d cut nails. Battens secured the lid boards together and nails through the lid were clinched. While I felt the box turned out pretty solid and square, two things become apparent very quickly. I needed a work surface that did not slide around as I tried to plane the box joints smooth and I needed a sharper plane iron.