Pandora’s Lid

One of the big decisions when it comes to completing a box, is deciding on the lid.

I deliberated for quite a while on this one, searching through my timber piles looking for inspiration.  I noted the slice of Brown Mallee Burl a couple of times, sitting on one of the shelves where it has been since about October 2008, but was a little undecided.  I kept coming back to it though, and finally decided this was the project that it was destined for.

It needed some truing up, and for some warp to be removed.  I’ve had it under boards to try to flatten it for almost 4 years, so it was as flat as I could make it, and so a little machining was required.

Truing up the Brown Mallee Burl

I took some care to ensure the sides and back were cut to suit the box, so the two corners of the natural edge met the front corners of the box.  Not being one to throw away timber, even offcuts, the two larger pieces cut off this burl were put back on the shelf, rather than the bin (or worse).

Test of lid sizing

I wanted to preserve the natural edge of the burl, and is the first project that I have done this on.

The next big decision is the hinge.  To hinge or not, that is the question.  I wanted this box to have the lid attached, so hinging it is my best option in this case.  There are still plenty of options – metal, wooden (shop-made) or other.

I went with concealed barrel hinges, which need a couple of holes drilled to fit the hinge.

Laying out the hinges

Using my Incra rule, the holes are laid out precisely, and it is over to the drill press.  An 8mm Colt wood boring drill bit is used (from Professional Woodworkers Supplies) as is the drill press laser to ensure the holes are exactly where I want them.

Fitting the concealed hinges

Here you can see a couple of the concealed hinges, as well as the laser cross hairs.  The Colt bit is particularly suited for this job, drilling clean and straight, with the double helix guiding the bit.

Once the holes were cut, I needed some beading around the edge of the lid.  This was needed for two reasons.  One, I wanted to break up the line of the lid, so it wasn’t a simple straight piece of timber (irrespective how good it looks). Secondly, I knew the lid was too thin for the hinges, and the holes would be right through the lid, so the beading was needed to disguise the holes.

Turns out it was a really good thing I kept the offcuts!

Shaping the beading

I looked at, and even tried a few different router bit (and their profiles), but in the end decided to go with one that cuts rounded beads on the upper surface.  I chose a router bit height that cut three beads, then transferred the timber to the tablesaw to cut that beading off.  These were all then taken over to the drum sander and the thin material carriage.  They were passed through a number of times until I achieved a thickness I wanted for the beading.

Cutting mitres

The beading was to look continuous around the outside, so it made sense to mitre the back corners to 45o.

Laying out the beading

I didn’t want beading across the front, so chose to end it as the burl became sapwood.

Ending the beading was a real debate, and I decided to have it chamfered at 45o.

Achieving that would be interesting.  For one, the beading is pretty thin, and narrow.  It is also a bit fragile (being burl).  The solution came to me – using a tool that I have where I want to control the angle of something as it is being ground – namely a blade sharpening jig!

I chose to use the Alisam, but could have done this with any of the blade sharpening jigs.

Creating a chamfer

Once again, you can never have too many clamps!

Gluing on the beading

This was done very carefully, so the beading didn’t slip as the clamping pressure was applied.

The lid finished

Once the lid was glued up, it was time to apply a finish.  This was done very simply, with a few coats of wood oil wiped on.  This is a combination of Tung Oil and a few others, and a drier.

Makes a lot of difference!

The lid, finished

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