Here is another project inspired by the Gadget Station series. This was submitted by jason, and what a great project! And a great story to go with it! His Dad must be incredibly proud!
This was my first creation that was not to serve a purely utilitarian use. This was a Fathers Day gift for my Dad who is a minister. My little brother was staying with me for a week while his place was being remodeled and had an idea for a gift for Dad. He had an old beat up Bible and wanted it displayed with a plaque that said, “A Bible falling apart can be found in the hands of a man who isn’t.” As soon as he told me about it I went into design mode. I’ve been wanting to do something with the Greene and Greene style joints ever since I sat down in rapt awe and watched you build the Gadget Station. I’m afraid I may have ripped you off a bit but that piece has really stuck with me.
I started by looking at what I had in the garage. Pine 2x4s and some birch and oak plywood and some small scraps laying around. I’m a bit strapped for cash right now so I used what I had. My woodworking tools consist of a Ridged contractor table saw, some Blue Chip chisels, some tapes and squares and a hand me down Porter Cable plunge router (no table yet). I found an old picture frame we weren’t using and stole the glass out of it and that minus 1/4 inch all around became my size to work with. I did some basic drawings and jumped into cutting down some 2x4s to square 1×3 stock. (I use my table saw with an Amana Prestige for all my cutting because it’s all I have and have had great luck creating square boards no taller than 3 inches.)
After that I cut to length and started working on the proud standing finger joints. I did not batch them out all at a time but cut one with the center finger and two shoulders and then matched it up to the mating piece and cut it. When both were done, I went on and did the next pair starting from scratch. To make the first cut was simple: two kirf cuts on the sides of the finger and then two more to remove the waste and then chisels to clean it up (my greatest woodworking revelation to date is the use of a nice sharp set of chisels and if I could, I think I might do everything with them). Then I laid that piece down on top of the next and traced it out and cut just inside of my lines with the table saw and then removed the excess with repeated passes. Then, a little nibble at a time, I got it to fit the first piece with a nice snug fit. I went on in this manner until all joints were done and then cleaned everything up with the chisels and sanded it all down. Now my frame had a basic shape.
I worked with a rasp I had bought for rough metal work and had never used and some sand paper to create the rounded ends on the fingers. Next I had to figure out how to create the super thin dados for the back piece and the glass in front. The top and bottom pieces I could make with kirf cuts on the TS but on the sides, the groove had to go past where you would see them on the outside fingers to give full depth for the panel and the glass to fit. I sat for 45 minutes trying to figure that one out and ended up doing the scariest thing I’ve ever done on a TS. I marked where the blade started and stopped on the fence at a certain depth and transferred those lines to my work piece and turned on the saw and dropped my workpiece slowly down onto the moving blade and ran it until I reached my line and stopped the saw and pulled it off. Now I was left with the cut too shallow for the panel and glass at the very edges and the panel side was OK because it was 1/4 inch and I have a chisel that would fit in that, but the groove for the glass, I ended up cleaning up with a jewelers screwdriver and a hammer.
I cut to length and glued up a panel of 1/4 x 5 oak plywood for the back (My very first time gluing wood) and fit in the slot and fit the glass in the front slot and looking at it and said to myself, “something’s missing… PLUGS!” I watched your videos again and set out to find a 3/8 hollow chisel mortising bit and some wood for plugs. WOODCRAFT! YES! I was thinking walnut but at Woodcraft I fell in love with a wood called Bocote. I went home and googled, “square plugs” and who pops up but Marc Spagnuolo on FineWoodworking.com with pillowing square plugs. I watched and learned again and went back to the shop. I didn’t do pillow tops but beveled the four corners on the top with a chisel and then chopped them off using the miter gauge and a short auxiliary fence on the TS and tapered the backs. I made a handle for my hollow chisel mortising chisel and used it with a 3/8 forsner bit and a hammer to create the square holes for the screws and plugs and slapped it together for a dry fit. It looked good so I batched out a bunch of those plugs and then went to work on getting the inscription in the box.
I found a piece of pine from old landscaping timber my neighbor gave me that I thought would be perfect. This timber had been buried underground for about ten years, I think. He pulled it out to reinforce a retaining wall with concrete and gave a bunch of them to me. It has some beautiful grain but you won’t be able to see in the pictures. I cut this with an angled front and wrote out the words for the inscription and then went over them with a woodburning tip on my soldering iron and glued it in place to the back and the bottom pieces and then glued the Bible in place above it and let it cure over night. I also used a key hole bit in the router to make places for mounting to the wall. In the morning, I screwed it all together and pounded the plugs in place with a claw hammer and a block of wood and that was it…no glue (I’m afraid the glass may break sometime in the future and have to be replaced) and no finish (no time, it was Sunday morning by then).
When my brother, Greg and I gave it to Dad after church this morning, he broke down in tears and said he would cherish it for the rest of his life. It was the best Fathers Day ever.