A ponderosa boarded box

The recent release of the Anarchist’s Design Book (Chris Schwarz, Lost Art Press) has reinforced my interest in “boarded” pieces that have a simple design and are constructed using rabbet and cut nail joinery. While waiting for my router plane to arrive so I may finish my side table project, I decided to build a small box using the techniques described in Schwarz’s book.

The piece started with a 1×12 purchased at the home center. I selected it so I could build the box out of pieces where the growth rings were perpendicular to the face such as wood that has been quarter-sawn or rived. Such straight grain pieces have good workability and are quite stable. A colleague who is wood science faculty member identified the board as ponderosa pine.

As the project began

My first step in building was to layout the pieces I needed for the box and complete the appropriate rip and crosscuts. Once done I had the rough pieces for the box with a nice selection of grain patterns. I then planed one true face and shot the reference edge on all the pieces.

For the top, bottom, front, and back of the box, I needed to dimension the boards to 1/2” thick so the piece had a better look. Having the reference face and edge along with the ends cut and planed appropriately, I set out to resaw the boards to the proper thickness. I clamped the boards in my twin screw vise and sawed the pieces with my 5 ½ ppi Disston D-23. It is my rip saw with the least set and has a rake of 8 degrees and 5 degrees fleam. I generally followed the methods outlined in Peter Follansbee’s blog post about re-sawing. I did a fair job sawing and with not too much planing the pieces were ready for assembly.

The rabbet joints were made by first sawing the shoulders and then roughing out the waste with a chisel. I used my recently arrived router plane to true the joints. Never using such a plane before in my work I was very impressed with how easily the joints were trued.

I assembled the box at the bench by holding the pieces with either a holdfast and/or a handscrew clamp. I used 4d finish cut nails for the carcass and 4d headless brads for the bottom. Chamfers on the lid and bottom were 3/8” wide by 1/4” tall. They were completed with a block plane cutting the ones on the end grain first. Added the hinges and finished with two coats of Danish oil rubbed with brown paper bag after each coat. I feel the parallel grain pattern of the ponderosa pine makes the piece.

The “boarded” box