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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A Tale of Four Miters

This next project is a bit unique to say the least.  I was approached by a client who wants me to build a display case for an antique Native American warrior necklace.  Her boyfriend has had it in his family for years, but keeps it in a cardboard box in his closet.  The challenge with this project, is that she's only seen the necklace once.  She has a general idea of the size and shape, but I'm flying blind in some respects.

What's also different about this piece is that the customer wants the box itself to look nice, but not detract from its contents.  So no exposed joinery, no adornment, and muted hardware.  So this box is going to be done in a shadow box style, with all miter joints in black walnut, with a basic oil finish.  It's also built with a glass panel slant top to allow easier viewing of the necklace, so that throws in a few curve balls.  But I'm thinking this is going to be a fun project.

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Anonymous said...

This will be great. I've wanted to build a display case ever since visiting the museum as a school kid. When I build my display case, I'd want a box lock fitted to keep little fingers off the display pieces.

Anonymous said...


I really enjoy your blog.

Why don't you use more hand tools? It seems that for some of the opperations that you don using your table saw, band saw, and jointer, would more easily be done with a sharp handplane?

I am not a handtool only woodworker, but it seems as if a more blended approach might make things easier (and safer).

I am curious to hear your thoughts.

Anonymous said...


how have you worked out the bevel on the front piece?
was it just done by eyeballing?

I think it would be easier to do the beveling with an hand plane after assembly

Rob Bois said...

A few hand tool questions here. For almost every operation, I weigh the advantages and disadvantages of all of the techniques I can think of (powered or not). I weigh the efficiency, repeatability, accuracy, and safety of each and then make my choice purely based on that. I have no affinity for hand tools over power tools or vice versa. Especially when I'm working on a commission, I will often make efficiency a very high priority (as long as it doesn't compromise safety or quality). For instance, I could have beveled the top of my box front with a hand plane, but frankly the time it took to measure the angle I needed and set it on my table saw was the fastest and easiest method for me, and gave me the perfect and consistent bevel I was looking for. I have done an all hand tool table in the past, and maybe I'll need to think of another hand tool heavy project in the near future.

Anonymous said...

i don't think it was hand tool vs. power tool, but it seems as if taking the peice to the jointer rather than using a handplane is asking for trouble.

Bruce Somers said...


Another great Boise production. With respect to strengthening the miter corners, I suggest not doing anything to the miters themselves. Rather, I'd cut a 1/4" dado around the bottom, then use a 1/4" sheet of quality ply for the bottom, gluing it in on all four edges. Of course, I also suggest veneering the exposed bottom with walnut to match the outer wood. Following that, I'd use angled blocking ledger strips to support the display shelf. Furthermore, you can then use hidden corner blocks below the shelf to provide additional corner support. If you make the display shelf removable, you've managed to create a "secret" compartment too. Just my 2 cents worth. Keep up the good work.

jeni gardner said...
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