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Turning a box

A box with lid is not the first project to turn. It requires some skills, especiallys to make the lid fit well. The project described is made using a deep-fluted 10 mm gouge except where other tools are specified.

1. The wood is mounted between centres and turned round as usual. A tenon for mounting in a scroll chuck i made in both ends.

2. The wood is mounted in the scroll chuck. The part to be used for the bottom part of the box is parted off so that the part to be used for the lid is left in the chuck. A very narrow parting tool may be used but a hacksaw is better. The hacksaw is placed lightly on the wood and moved slowly forth and back while the lathe is spinning to avoid that the teeth clogs.
    It is also possible to part the wood while it is mounted between centres, but it's easier and safer to do when the wood is mounted in the chuck because the parting tool or saw blade may get stuck when the wood is almost parted and bends downwards.

3. The end of the wood to be used for the lid is now in the chuck. The end is trued up and the reces that is to fit the bottom part of the box is made. It requires some routine to start turning with the gouge on the flat surface witthout the gouge running away, either to the centre or the rim of the wood, leaving a spiral groove. To make it easier to start, one may make the beginning of the recess using a scraper, a skew laid on its side and used as a scraper or using a parting tool. It is important that the sides of the recess are parallel to the turning axis to make the lid fit well.
    Now the rest of the lid is shaped roughly still leaving a thick support to the chuck.

4. The lid is hollowed and the hollow is sanded. The outer (upper) side is shaped finishing with the central part separating the lid from from the wood held in the chuck. You may leave the lid a little wider than the final goal to leave some material for truing up with the lower part of the box.

5. The other part of the wood to be used for the lower part of the box is now mounted in the chuck and the side and end are trued up. Now the most difficult part of the turning comes: the mating tenon for the lid has to be turned. Again, you may use a scraper if you feel uncomfortable using the gouge for it. The lid has to fit tightly so that it has to be tapped on with the hand, so that it can be friction mounted for turnig its final shape. The tenon has to act as a jam chuck for the lid. If the tenon becomes slightly too small so that the lid is not tightly held when tapped on, you can try to apply a little water to the tenon to make it expand. If the lid is still not held tightly, you can place a piece of kitchen paper between the two parts when mounting the lid. If this isn't enough either, the tenon is simply removed and a new one made.
    The lid is removed and the lower part of the box is hollowed out. If the tenon for the lid is ruined by accident during the hollowing, it i still easy to make a new one. The inner part is sanded.

6. The lid is now friction mounted to the lower part. Check that the lid is held firmly. If not, try with water and maybe paper as mentioned above.

7. The outer shape of the lid is now turned and the outer shape of the lower part of the box (or at least the upper part of it) is turned. Both are sanded. The lid is carefully knocked off by hand and the lower part of the box is turned and sanded. The tenon that holds the lid may be sanded a little smaller to give a looser fit.
    The box is parted off using parting tool or hacksaw leaving a little material for turning the bottom.

8. The remaining wood in the chuck is used to make a jam chuck for holding the lower part of the box while finishing the bottom of it. The jam chuck should hold on the outher side of the box. It would maybe also be possible to make a jam chuck holding on the inner side of the box, but that would give the risk of splitting the box.
    The bottom is turned and finished. The bottom should be at least sligthly concave to prevent the box from rocking.


The live centre can be used for additional support for large boxes or if the lid isn't held securely when using the bottom part as jam chuck or if the lower part isn't held securely in it's jam chuck. This is described on a separate page.

There are several ways to make the fit between lid and lower part of the box. That you can read about here .





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