|The Making of Historic Robert Frost Maplewood Boxes|
Barrel Hinge Boxes
by Richard Anthony (rmartin)
"...there's a lot of decaffeinated brands on the market
that are just as tasty as the real thing"
Chris Knight (Val Kilmer) "Real Genius"
It's true; there are dozens of pen boxes, pouches,
and tubes on the market at reasonable prices,
so why go to the time and effort to make your own?
You'll have to answer that question for yourself.
In my case, I had the privilege of working with some historic Maple wood
thought to be the inspiration for the late great
American poet Robert Frost's "Tree at my Window" poem.
I didn't start out to make a tutorial on barrel hinges,
rather to document the use of this historic Maple wood.
Hopefully you will find this record useful,
or at the least, entertaining.
So let's get to it shall we?
Unfortunately, I did not take a picture of the blocks
of wood straight out of the shipping box.
I can tell you the blocks of wood were neither flat nor square.
I began by sanding one side and then running them through a table saw
and then squaring the ends with a miter saw.
After trimming and squaring, I had 6 blocks of wood
which measured 1 1/4" thick by 2 1/2" wide by 6 1/2" long.
Separating lid from box
The band saw is used to cut the blocks into 2 parts; bottom box and top lid.
Mark a pencil line down the center of a scrap piece the length of the bandsaw table. Cut freehand along that line half way. Without moving the piece, turn off the saw and clamp the piece in place. This sets the drift angle.
A rip fence jig is made by gluing and screwing together 2 pieces of plywood at a 90 degree angle. Shims are used to set the fence 7/8" from the blade. (Note: I recommend a 1" minimum for the bottom, but I was limited with the wood at hand.)
With the rip fence clamped in place, a scrap piece of wood is tested. and at every step in the process. Adjustments are made if necessary and another piece is tested. Once everything is just right, it only takes a few minutes to cut each block of wood.
I'm using 5mm barrel hinges ordered online from Pen State Industries.
They come in packs of 10 for about 5 dollars.
I also purchased two 5mm drill bits as these are hard to find in my area.
The trick with barrel hinges is to align the holes of the top and bottom precisely.
This is accomplished at the drill press easily
and made repeatable with two simple shop made jigs.
Cut a piece of plywood large enough so that it can be clamped to the drill press base. Glue two 1/4" strips in a T-shape making sure the inside of the T's are 90 degrees.
The second jig is made from 3/4" shop stock 1" wide by 12" long. A groove is center cut along one edge. This is done by making a couple passes on the table saw until the mortise is just wide enough to hold a piece of 1/4" plexi glass. Cut on a 45 degree angle and glue in an L shape. Glue in the plexi glass. Lastly, drill two holes in the plexi glass 1" and 5 1/2" from the inside corner.
Align the T-base, speed square and drill bit with the bottom of the box. Once everything is nice and snug, clamp the T-base to the drill press.
Once the depth stop on the drill press is set, the left side hole of 1 or 100 boxes can be drilled quickly and exactly. Repeat the alignment set-up for the right side hole.
The procedure is the same for the box lid. By using the upper section of the T-base, it's easy to visualize how the holes of the bottom and of the top will align. Make sure the inside of the top is face up and the wood grain is aligned with the bottom. Drill the left side hole for each box lid. Rinse and repeat for the right side.
In order for the barrel hinges to function properly, a bevel is cut
using the table saw set at 45 degrees taking just the thickness of the blade.
This step is necessary if the box edges are kept square,
but I will be using a 1/4" round over bit on all
edges making this step superfluous.
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