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Lucas Purpleheart

A box I could use some help with! Complete newbie

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Hello, everyone! I am an avid wood enthusiast and still very new to to woodworking. I wanted to make a sliding lid box but fear my inexperience will force me to start with a hinged lid box. So here goes:

 I want to make simple 3.5 in x 3.5 in x 6 (or 4x4x6) inch boxes to place some pottery I make in. I was thinking of practicing with cheap wood like pine or even plywood and veneer, but the endgoal is to make these from exotic wood from Purpleheart or Rosewood for really special pieces. Here is an elongated example: [Example 1] but more this size Picture and ultimately, I really want to do something like this, i want all examples, for my boxes to have sliding lids but this example has an acrylic lid with the logo etched on Example 3 I know it is a lot but presentation is a big factor for me. In the end, however, I think since I can't make sliding boxes without a tablesaw easily, I will just go with a hinged lid for now. When joining the sides together, are nails necessary if the glue is strong enough? I would rather not have nails show. Also, where is the best location online to buy metal hinges?

I currently only have a Ryobi cordless drill and kit that has different bits. I have been looking at getting a miter saw, router, jigsaw or circular handsaw but I don't know where to begin. I don't have much space but I feel I could find some if I was really dedicated. I think a tablesaw would be the most versatile thing I could get right now, there's a Ryobi one at Home Depot I could get for cheap and would allow me to cut the the blanks to piece instead of getting them cut at Wood Crafter. Would this tablesaw  allow me to make rabbets for a sliding lid box?

Is there any place online that sells exotic woods at 1/4" x 3.5 or 4 x length? I can't go any higher because I don't think I could cut a 1/2" slab in half myself with the tablesaw. I think I will have to use a regular handsaw since I really don't have garage or outdoor space to setup right now.

 

Oh, lastly, I heard heat-treating purpleheart is a good way to bring out color, is this true? Can I do this with a torch? Also, what stain would be best on plywood or a good way to color it or non exotic woods purple?

I appreciate any and all feedback - thank you.

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Welcome to the forum. 

Those boxes you linked would probaly be plywood cut with a laser cutter. They would be cut perfectly will no error. I'm sure you could set up a table saw jigs but I know I could never match it. You're probably better off looking at boxes that have different joinery. 

I've always like the style of this box: http://www.startwoodworking.com/sites/default/files/sushi-box-plan.pdf. It's cut with machines and hand tools. Instead of nails, he uses brass pins to add support to the joinery.

This kind of box could be easily made with simple tools but you'd need a table saw to easily/consistently cut the slot for the lid.  PencilBox-500x375.jpg

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Try a google search for "eleven groove box". The version I'm familiar with is from Roy Underhill, and requires maybe 3 hand tools to make.

A small bench-top tablesaw, or even a small router table, can easily be set up to produce such boxes, using some simple jigs.

If you are just getting started with machine-based woodworking, please take the time to study safe operating procedures. Your project calls for relatively small parts, that may put your body parts in the danger zone on these machines. There are safe methods to do it, please learn them.

 

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1 hour ago, wdwerker said:

If you get a tablesaw and will be cutting quantity's of small parts a  Grr-ripper push block is a very wise investment. 

Agree with this entirely. Grr-ripper block is a great safety investment if you’re cutting small pieces and would like to keep all of your fingers

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Nothing wrong with starting with a low end table saw and upgrading later.  I started with s foldable Ridgid saw from Home Depot. I was able to do some good work with it and the fodl it up and move it out of the way.  That would be #1 on my list.  With boxes in mine, #2 is a router.  # 3 would be router table - doesn't have to be fancy for now.

Start with simple joints for you boxes - butt joints and rabbet joints. If you build your box so the grain is vertical there will be no end grain visible at the corners and your wil lbe gluing face grain to face grain - much stronger than gluing end grain.  Miter joints  required a fair amount of precision.  I would recommend a good book on box making as ther are lots of ways to do anything.  Doug Stowe is one author, off the top of my head.

BTW, you should have no problem cutting thicker boards with a small table saw, you may need a support stand to help support the wood but it is very doable.

 

Above all have fun!

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@Ronn W@Jonathan McCully@wdwerker@wtnhighlander@lewisc

 

Hello, everyone! Thank you for the response, I really appreciate it. I decided to go with a back miter saw and some clamps since I really don't have a workbench even yet. I cut an oak plan into sections and made a box with butt joints. I used shellac clear spray to finish it since I wasn't sure what stain would look good on it.

The image I have attached is the 2nd box I made and I want to make a purpleheart lid for it. I was thinking about making a door that opens outward like a castle or church door. Is this viable? I have High Performance Gloss to use on the purpleheart since I want to retain it's vibrant color, but one side is still a little brown so I have been trying to leave it in the sun to purple. Also, the sticker on one side made for a really dark imprint, so I am unsure of how to fix that. 

The store employee told me to sand only up to 150 with my hand, instead of my orbital sander. Is this right? I am a little unsure of the process of sanding and finishing. Like I said, the woods are oak and purple and the finishes I have are Shellac clear spray and High Performance Gloss. Do I just sand the purpleheart to 150, use a wet?/dry? rag to brush of sawdust, then use my foam brush to apply 3 coats with a grace period of a couple hours in between? And for the oak, do I sand (with the grain) to 80, use rag to brush off sawdust, apply shellac, wait 20-30 minutes, sand to 150, rag, and apply shellac one last time? I think she said for the purpleheart, I can go as high as I want since I wasn't actually staining, or maybe it was the oak. Sorry I am unsure. How high should I sand these pieces and in what order should I apply the gloss/clear shellac pertaining to the process? Thank you all for your input. I plan to hopefully get a tablesaw that allows me do rabbets in the future since that seems like the most versatile tool I can have. A Circulaw saw would not let me get the strait cuts I want, without a guide, because I don't have a workbench really to work on so having a tablesaw would be a little easier. I think.

 

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On ‎11‎/‎10‎/‎2018 at 3:19 AM, Lucas Purpleheart said:

Oh, lastly, I heard heat-treating purpleheart is a good way to bring out color, is this true? Can I do this with a torch? Also, what stain would be best on plywood or a good way to color it or non exotic woods purple?

You can "cook" purpleheart in an oven, if I remember correctly I used a 300 degree oven for about 20 min or until the purple came back.  @phinds had a very extensive article on the process on his web page (HobbitHouseinc) I think.  Use a torch, bring the marshmallows, cause all your going to do is have an expensive fire.  

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With regards to sanding, some folks feel that stain absorbs more evenly if the sanding is stopped at 150 grit. While I am sure that more color will remain on the surface that way, most any wood with curl in the grain will wind up "blotching", coloring unevenly. My preference is to sand to a minimum of 320, and apply more coats of stain if desired. 

Sanding to a high grit tends to close up the pore structure, preventing the end-grain fibers that exit the surface in curly areas from absorbing much more stain than the surrounding wood, thus avoiding the blotchy appearance.

I would use the spray shellac as a "seal coat", then apply the High Performance after a few days. Shellac is a 'universal binder / sealer, and is pretty good for helping the final topcoat adhere to oily exotics like purpleheart. For best results, wipe the bare wood with acetone or alcohol, allowing just enough time for it to dry before spraying the shellac. That will remove oils from the surface, allowing better adhesion with the finish.

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On 11/10/2018 at 7:29 AM, lewisc said:

Welcome to the forum. 

Those boxes you linked would probaly be plywood cut with a laser cutter. They would be cut perfectly will no error. I'm sure you could set up a table saw jigs but I know I could never match it. You're probably better off looking at boxes that have different joinery. 

I've always like the style of this box: http://www.startwoodworking.com/sites/default/files/sushi-box-plan.pdf. It's cut with machines and hand tools. Instead of nails, he uses brass pins to add support to the joinery.

This kind of box could be easily made with simple tools but you'd need a table saw to easily/consistently cut the slot for the lid.  PencilBox-500x375.jpg

So I recently got a miter saw, would the depth stop allow me to do this? It's a sliding compound miter saw by Chicago Electric from Harbor Freight.

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On 11/22/2018 at 12:11 AM, wtnhighlander said:

With regards to sanding, some folks feel that stain absorbs more evenly if the sanding is stopped at 150 grit. While I am sure that more color will remain on the surface that way, most any wood with curl in the grain will wind up "blotching", coloring unevenly. My preference is to sand to a minimum of 320, and apply more coats of stain if desired. 

Sanding to a high grit tends to close up the pore structure, preventing the end-grain fibers that exit the surface in curly areas from absorbing much more stain than the surrounding wood, thus avoiding the blotchy appearance.

I would use the spray shellac as a "seal coat", then apply the High Performance after a few days. Shellac is a 'universal binder / sealer, and is pretty good for helping the final topcoat adhere to oily exotics like purpleheart. For best results, wipe the bare wood with acetone or alcohol, allowing just enough time for it to dry before spraying the shellac. That will remove oils from the surface, allowing better adhesion with the finish.

So how high should I sand to on both wood species? I am not staining, here are my topcoats: 

 

Quote

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So should I wipe the dust off in between each coat with a tack rag? And with the gloss, should I use a rag soaked in mineral spirits?

 

Also, are you suggesting putting the shellac on the purpleheart? Because the employee at Woodcrafters warned me against doing so, claiming it would warm the color too much and darken it - I believe. So they suggested a water-based finish like the Gloss.

 

So it'd be: Sand > dust > finish > wait  and repeat at least twice more?

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If not staining (good for you), I'd sand to 220. You need to be very careful though not to let the pores of the oak fill with sanding dust from the PH. If you don't want to warm up the colors then us a waterborne finish with a light sanding with 320 between coats.

Give some thought about the use of a glossy finish. It will tend to give the piece a plasticy, fake look. A matte, or satin finish will look more natural.

Be aware that the PH is not going to stay that color. It will turn brown eventually. 

Oh, forgot to mention that before each coat you should get all the dust off, either by compressed air, vacuuming with a soft brush, or using a tack cloth.

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Sometimes it takes vacuumung, compressed air, AND a tack cloth to get all the dust. As @drzaius mentioned, dust from the purpleheart will get into the oak (if they are together) and is a real bear to get out. If the purpleheart lid is a seperate piece, then it shouldn't be a problem.

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4 hours ago, Lucas Purpleheart said:

So I recently got a miter saw, would the depth stop allow me to do this? It's a sliding compound miter saw by Chicago Electric from Harbor Freight.

I would think carefully about trying to make that type of cut on the SCM. You wouldnt have much support to hold on to it. A table saw would be a much better option for safety and consistency. 

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On 12/16/2018 at 1:12 AM, drzaius said:

If not staining (good for you), I'd sand to 220. You need to be very careful though not to let the pores of the oak fill with sanding dust from the PH. If you don't want to warm up the colors then us a waterborne finish with a light sanding with 320 between coats.

Give some thought about the use of a glossy finish. It will tend to give the piece a plasticy, fake look. A matte, or satin finish will look more natural.

Be aware that the PH is not going to stay that color. It will turn brown eventually. 

Oh, forgot to mention that before each coat you should get all the dust off, either by compressed air, vacuuming with a soft brush, or using a tack cloth.

Why is it good I am not staining?

 

And so glossy will give a fake look where as satin and matte are more natural? Got it.

 

Yes the lid is separate from the body right now. Just trying to figure out the sanding/finishing process.

 

For the PH lid it'd be: rub with mineral spirit to pre-raise grain, Sand to 80, tack cloth, layer of gloss finish, wait drying time then redo the whole process again for more layers?

 

For the oak lid, someone said the shellac would be pointless and just to do gloss, so same process minus the mineral spirits pre-raise?

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Have you successfully used mineral spirits to raise the grain in the past? I ask, because most use spirits to preview what the piece will look like with finish. I've never found it to raise the grain. I use water for that.

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Yep, water to raise the grain . Alcohol or mineral spirits to see what the piece might look like under a finish. Alcohol evaporates quicker if you need to go right back to sanding. 

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2 hours ago, Lucas Purpleheart said:

Why is it good I am not staining? If God wanted it stained, he would have done it while it was still in the tree :) Seriously though, I've come to the conclusion that wood that is stained just looks like it was badly artificially colored: whether it's blotchiness or muddy grain or just color that is unnatural looking. Oak is an exception to this. Sometimes it is desirable to slightly alter the tone of wood, but that is usually done better with dyes.

For the PH lid it'd be: rub with mineral spirit to pre-raise grain, Sand to 80, tack cloth, layer of gloss finish, wait drying time then redo the whole process again for more layers?  Was "sand to 80" a typo? I think sanding to 220 would be good before the 1st coat, then something like 320 or 400 between coats. But again, no matter how many coats you apply, it won't keep the PH from turning brown. Mineral spirits won't raise the grain. Use a little water for that. And there's not need to raise the grain unless you're using a water based finish. That's cause the water in the finish will raise the grain for you if you didn't already do it.

For the oak lid, someone said the shellac would be pointless and just to do gloss, so same process minus the mineral spirits pre-raise? The only reason I'd us shellac is to give the wood a slightly different color cast. If that is red oak, it has very deep, open pores & if you don't at least partially fill them then they will fill up with dirt & gunk, which can look unsightly. Using wet/dry sandpaper to sand the the wet 1st coat will create a slurry that will fill the pores. Or you can use a pore filler.

 

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Interesting, thank you all for the replies. I went out to Home Depot and picked up two varathane finishes: satin and a dark stain for oak plus the spirits, which I apparently don't need.

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3 hours ago, wtnhighlander said:

Have you successfully used mineral spirits to raise the grain in the past? I ask, because most if use spirits to preview what the piece will look like with finish. I've never found it to raise the grain. I use water for that.

I have not nor have I ever used spirits.

 

2 hours ago, wdwerker said:

Yep, water to raise the grain . Alcohol or mineral spirits to see what the piece might look like under a finish. Alcohol evaporates quicker if you need to go right back to sanding. 

Gotcha, water over spirits.

1 hour ago, drzaius said:

If God wanted it stained, he would have done it while it was still in the tree :) Seriously though, I've come to the conclusion that wood that is stained just looks like it was badly artificially colored: whether it's blotchiness or muddy grain or just color that is unnatural looking. Oak is an exception to this. Sometimes it is desirable to slightly alter the tone of wood, but that is usually done better with dyes.

Haha, I get that. I was unsure about the oak so I grabbed a dark stain to apply before using the gloss or satin.

 

1 hour ago, drzaius said:

For the PH lid it'd be: rub with mineral spirit to pre-raise grain, Sand to 80, tack cloth, layer of gloss finish, wait drying time then redo the whole process again for more layers?  Was "sand to 80" a typo? I think sanding to 220 would be good before the 1st coat, then something like 320 or 400 between coats. But again, no matter how many coats you apply, it won't keep the PH from turning brown. Mineral spirits won't raise the grain. Use a little water for that. And there's not need to raise the grain unless you're using a water based finish. That's cause the water in the finish will raise the grain for you if you didn't already do it.

It wasn't.  So I sand to 220 without coating and only start coating at 220? Sorry I am just confused a little about when you apply coats, when to finish and how many grits. I know I should probably do something like 80 > 150 > 220 for both parts (the PH and oak) but unsure when to apply which finish I have.

And are mineral spirits oil-based, so it'll make my PHJ darker? And do you mean unless youre using an oil-based finish? There's no water in oil-based finish to raise the grain which is why you use spirits or water to do it for you?

 

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Danger- Danger ! Odorless mineral spirits could be some ersatz concoction that makes the EPA happy but doesn't work that well. It could also be the real thing highly refined....read the contents closely before using .

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Agree with @wdwerker. If ththe stuff in that can is milky-looking, beware. It may not serve as a proper solvent / cleaner for oil-based finishes. True mineral spirits is water-clear.

However, I think the "fake" mineral spirits comes in a green can, IIRC.

Another suggestion - start sanding at 80 grit, and consider going through 100, 120, 150, and 180 as well. Taking smaller steps is actually tge faster way to a smooth surface.

Oak usually takes finish pretty well at 180, but denser woods like the PH may still show scratches at 180. So, follow up with 220, lightly moisten with water to raise the grain, then hit it with 220 or 320 before applying finish. 

@drzaius mentioned pore filler for the oak, and he has a good point. There are many ways to skin that cat, from commercial fillers, to home grown concoctions, to the simple wet-sanded slurry technique mention previously. IMO, the putty-type fillers (Timbermate and the like) look muddy. My preference is for a clear filler (Aquacoat, or repeated coats of shellac sanded back) or a contrasting colored fill. Commercial fillers can work, but you may have to add dye. I've used an old technique that involves plaster of paris, with great success.

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23 hours ago, wtnhighlander said:

Agree with @wdwerker. If ththe stuff in that can is milky-looking, beware. It may not serve as a proper solvent / cleaner for oil-based finishes. True mineral spirits is water-clear.

However, I think the "fake" mineral spirits comes in a green can, IIRC.

Another suggestion - start sanding at 80 grit, and consider going through 100, 120, 150, and 180 as well. Taking smaller steps is actually tge faster way to a smooth surface.

Oak usually takes finish pretty well at 180, but denser woods like the PH may still show scratches at 180. So, follow up with 220, lightly moisten with water to raise the grain, then hit it with 220 or 320 before applying finish. 

@drzaius mentioned pore filler for the oak, and he has a good point. There are many ways to skin that cat, from commercial fillers, to home grown concoctions, to the simple wet-sanded slurry technique mention previously. IMO, the putty-type fillers (Timbermate and the like) look muddy. My preference is for a clear filler (Aquacoat, or repeated coats of shellac sanded back) or a contrasting colored fill. Commercial fillers can work, but you may have to add dye. I've used an old technique that involves plaster of paris, with great success.

So what would be the best combo of finishes for the woods I have from the material I have? For the Oak: shellac + poly + dye?

and for the PH: poly only. And you say to finish only after around 180/220? What grit would I be sanding inbetween coats?

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I would use 320 or higher between coats of finish.

As for the finishes, I would consider just a simple wiping poly. The shellac isn't a requirement, but can be used as a sealer between incompatible finishes, or to affect color. Dye is only needed to even or modify the color.

One good bit of advice I learned here - dilute the dye more than required, and use multple coats to achieve the desired color.

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3 minutes ago, wtnhighlander said:

I would use 320 or higher between coats of finish.

As for the finishes, I would consider just a simple wiping poly. The shellac isn't a requirement, but can be used as a sealer between incompatible finishes, or to affect color. Dye is only needed to even or modify the color.

One good bit of advice I learned here - dilute the dye more than required, and use multple coats to achieve the desired color.

So it'd be something like: Sand to 80 > Take off dust with tach cloth and compressed air can > Sand to 150 > dust > Sand to 220 > dust > apply 1st coat of satin poly > wait for drying time > Sand 320 > dust > apply 2nd coat of poly > wait > Sand 320 again > apply 3rd coat of poly. Then, apply more coats as necessary?

 

And I was told not to use the shellac on the PH as it will just darken it even though it's clear coat it does yellow the wood a little. I was worried Gloss would love plastic-y so i got satin poly.

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42 minutes ago, wtnhighlander said:

I would use 320 or higher between coats of finish.

As for the finishes, I would consider just a simple wiping poly. The shellac isn't a requirement, but can be used as a sealer between incompatible finishes, or to affect color. Dye is only needed to even or modify the color.

One good bit of advice I learned here - dilute the dye more than required, and use multple coats to achieve the desired color.

I agree. The higher grit sandpaper simply removes any sign that the lower grit might leave, especially after you get past 150 or 180. The final “smoothness “ comes after applying the finish and subsequent standings with 320 or so. Several years ago, when I was young(er) and dumb, several guys on here convinced me that General Finishes Arm-R-Seal satin finish was the king of the hill. Nothing more, nothing less and for the most part, that has been my go to. Every once in a while I will get ballsey and try something else. Keep It Simple. As far as the color, I agree with others, if you want oak colored, use oak, walnut, use walnut! Etc. I did  use dye once to darken a piece of ply that was used on the back of a piece. I do understand the importance of his piece but don’t try and conquer woodworking on your first try. You’ll learn more from your mistakes more than any where else. Glad you took up Woodworking and welcome to the forum.

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