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A little Tiger Myrtle and Olive:

Building a mitred pencil box with a shooting board

A few months ago a good friend of mine surprised me with a couple of pieces of Olive wood after hearing me say I admired the figure and texture of the wood, but how difficult I found it to come by. Thanks again Ian!

One of the pieces was self-selecting as it was large enough for the handle of a marking knife. It became this one ..

The other was a small board, quite cupped, however I managed to rescue a section, handplane it flat, resaw it, and created a book matched piece about 10" long, 4" wide and 1/4" thick. This I ear-marked for a lid of a box.

I enjoy building boxes as a quick-fix when a longish furniture build begins to become work. My family and friends have several each. These days they run and hide if they see me carrying one. So I decided this one was for me (I don't have any), and it would be a pencil box for my desk. I had just the piece of wood for this.

A couple of years ago I brought back a suitcase of wood from a visit to Tasmania. Mostly Huon Pine (very precious), some Sassafras, and a little Tiger Myrtle. The light Olive would be highlighted best by dark Tiger Myrtle.

This short project (in all it took about 2 hours, excluding time for glue to dry) was also an opportunity to finish the Donkeys Ear I needed for the ramped shooting board I built recently as I had given my last one to a friend. I think that it is more traditional for pencil boxes to be mitred. Anyway, I did not want dovetails as they would make the busy Tiger Myrtle even busier.

Now even before I added the Donkeys Ear, the shooting board needed a modification (does this happen to you - start one thing, then you need to do something else first, and something before that ...?!). The initial mod was to add a rail, ala the Stanley #52, which would prevent the plane moving away from the edge of the work piece. These mitres must be planed accurately otherwise the joining edges will have gaps. It is difficult enough to hold the work still; it is a complication when the plane moves as well. So this is what I did ...

Set up with the LN #51:

Set up with the LV LAJ and hotdog handle:

Details ...

The completed Donkey's Ear ...

Note that the fence has non-slip (salt sprinkled over varnish).

More details. Dovetailed support at rear (for fun), and secured to the main fence with a bolt. The fence has micro-adjustability, the board has levelling feet underneath, so the Donkey's Ear is adjustable in 3 dimensions.

In use ..

Actually, I deliberately did this the long way. Generally I first saw the mitres with a mitre box. The Myrtle is medium hard and I simply planed away the waste.

Once the ends of the board sides were mitred, the pieces were taped together from the rear (in lieu of using clamps), and glued. The jig used here was one I learned from Andrew Crawford (on a box-making course of his). It is the best way to ensure everything is square. I use it for drawers as well. No fussing with measuring diagonals.

And the result (9 1/4" long x 4 1/4" wide and 2 1/2" high) ...

The front:

The base is Kauri Pine from New Zealand:

And a close-up of the Olive wood figure ..

Regards from Perth


June 2011