NYPD Pipe and Drum Box, Part 4…
Last month, I finally finished the sgian dubh presentation box for Bill, a member of the NYPD Pipe and Drum band. The box, along with a pair of Rab Gordon sgian dubhs, was commissioned by Bill’s (great) friend, Don.
When I first received the request from Don, he indicated several details he wanted me to work into it, if at all possible. I told him I would see what I could do, but that I really worked better when I was given a certain amount of creative freedom. I also explained that it would be a design challenge to put so many details on the box without detracting from the overall appearance of it. (See? I can be diplomatic when I need to be.) Finally, I told him what kinds of costs were associated with my boxes, which can be a bit high as I use the best hardware I can get my hands on. I’m not going to spend 20 hours making a box and put some cheap $2 pressed hinges on it.
But he was a great sport. He agreed with using the best hardware possible, let go of the reigns, and said, “Have at it!” I decided to take the opportunity to work on a design idea I’d been mulling over for some time. Here is the end result:
Title: NYPD Pipe and Drum Sgian Dubh Presentation Box
Dimensions: 14″ x 6 3/4″ x 2 3/4″
Materials: Mahogany, Curly Mahogany panel, Bog Oak escutcheon, Irish National tartan lining, Brusso brass hinges, English half mortise box lock from Whitechapel Ltd.
Finish: Amber Shellac, Renaissance Wax
Any time I finish a project, I like to sit down and take notes on what I did wrong, what I did right, what elements about the project I liked and which ones I won’t do again. I’m sure some of the cons I’ll point out aren’t noticeable to anyone but the creator of the box, but I still know they are problems, so I want to make sure and work on correcting them on future boxes. (Feel free to add any kind of constructive advice you might have; often, we spend so much time looking at something that obvious mistakes or areas of improvement are lost on us.)
Let’s get the cons out of the way first, shall we?
- For starters, I took way too long with this project. That was due to many factors, including raising a one-year-old-turned-two-year-old, a complete wreck of a workshop, and challenges with working out a new box design.
- I did way too much sanding with this project. That mostly had to do with rounding the proud box and bridle joinery.
- There were a few small sections where I wasn’t completely happy with the finish. I’m sure that is mostly due to technique and being rushed at the end. (I’m always rushed at the end, for some reason…)
- I like the photos of the box in its “natural” habitat, but I probably should have taken some proper pictures of it, as well, with the multi-angled lighting and the backdrop and what have you.
- Finally, there were a few construction issues I had, like when I accidentally rounded the wrong edges on the lid frame when it was disassembled. In order to fix it, I had to plane it a bit and that made the bridle joints uneven. I also had a few joints that were not quite as tight as I wanted them to be. What bugged me most of all about the joinery, though, was that I used the table saw to cut it all. The joinery on the next box will be done with hand tools, for better or for worse.
And now the pros…
- This box is by far the most elegant of the boxes I’ve made so far. I was very happy with the end result of the exposed box and bridle joints and the box dimensions. I will definitely make some boxes in the future that use this technique.
- I loved the combination of mahogany and curly mahogany with the little splash of bog oak. I want to start doing more with my bog oak escutcheons, though. I have some ideas jotted down – I just need to start putting them into the projects.
- That half mortise lock installation was tight! I love it when I end up with nice crisp lines and a well-fitted lock.
Overall, I’m very happy with this box. My wife told me this was her favourite box so far, as well. I’ll have to keep that in mind when I start working on a box for her.