I originally did this project in March of 2019 and built a web page then describing my process. Then my free web site that posted my pictures went out of business. I had a request to rebuild this web page so someone else could try making boxes using the same MLCS bits.
MLCS no longer shows PN 1239 on their web site, so it is hard for me to verify which router bits I bought. I guess I will take the box making ad and go to my router bit selection, and try to pick out the right ones.
You can use a 3 bit combination to make their box. To get these combinations straight in my brain, I labelled their diagram.......
I think I will experiment and make a box from common pine using the fancy profiled side bit. Maybe 10x6 inches would be a good starting size to experiment with. This bit takes a guide bearing, so you have to start with a flat area on the blank, I will have to see if you leave the flat area or later saw it off? Let the fun being!
Next I slowed the router speed down to the minimum. I chose a piece of scrap pine. Usually, when in doubt, I take multiple passes, versus just 1 big pass..........so I did that.
I had lots of trouble with the bit grabbing, not running smoothly, and tearing chunks out. After about 3 passes I noticed another problem. This bit removes a lot of stock on the bottom of the board, leaving no lateral support against the fence. It is easy to tip the piece when pushing it against the fence. I checked the MLCS plans, and they were no help with respect to the best process to use.
It was challenging to get a good profile on the box side the whole length of the board.......and this is only common pine! It will be interesting to see how the router bit works with harder red oak or walnut!!
I also noticed the top of the side is thin, and there is no way to mount a hinge on the back side of the box. One might find a special hinge where 1 side goes at the top of the inside of the box, then attaches to the bottom of the lid?? One could forget the hinge, and make a lip for the box lid to just set on top of the box. I pulled the MLCS ad, and there is no hinge on that box.
On the first board, I routed it........then visually inspected it......and compared it to the MLCS ad. OOOPS, I did not change the router depth after I removed the side making bit....so I did not have it set right. I then set the router height correctly.
I also could not tell which was going to be the top and the bottom of the foot, so I labelled it on my photo for future reference....
I also routed it in 1 pass, versus multi-passes.
I did not use the Merlin steel band clamp. I don't think it would rest very well on the contoured molding shape. I went to my tried and true method of wrapping 2 rounds of heavy string, then twisting it with a nail. I did it in 2 places because just doing it on top groove did not pull in the bottom of the molding.
Before I did this, I used a straight router bit to cut the groove in the bottom of the 4 sides...........to glue in and nail the 3/16" Luan plywood bottom.
On the bottom feet, I cut the lengths just a hair long. It looks like I need to shorten them a little to get a tighter fit when the top box drops down into the foot molding box.
The MLCS plans suggest gluing up 3 or 4 pieces for the lid, to prevent the lid from curving or warping over time. I also have to decide how much overlap to have on the lid. On the pretty little mahogany box I build a couple years ago, I used a 5/8" overlap, and it looks ok.
I just bought MLCS router bit Table Edge Bit Ogee Fillet w/ Radius #8564, to try to make a fancier edge on the lid of the box.
I brushed on the stain with a 1" wide brush, and did not wipe any off with a rag..............I am using the stain like it is paint. It took 2 coats or 3, to get rid of the white streaks and end up a brown type painted finish. I used the oven at 120F to dry the stain quicker..........it did a good job of stinking up the house for my wife :)
After the 2 coats of stain dried, I applied 1 coat of clear gloss polyurethane................then sanded to 22 grit, and applied a 2nd coat. I thought 2 versus 3 coats was adequate for this project.
I am glad I made an experimental box from common pine. There is 3 router bits that I was not familiar with (box sides, box feet, and fancy lid edge).
When I got the box finished, I noticed a little rocking when set on a flat surface. On future boxes, I need to check this, and adjust the feet if necessary so no rocking.
Cutting the felt with the Exacto knive and metal square worked great.........as did brushing on the Titebond glue to glue the felt to the bottom. I also learned how to attach the foot molding to the main box.
So, on to a red oak box next !
Although I did not learn this until I tried to route the box sides in red oak in the next section, the biggest thing I learned in the whole project was to raise the big bit about a 1/4" above the router table, which allows you to make the big cut in several passes !!! See more explanation in the next section.
I could not do this cut in multiple passes by moving the fence like other router bits...........because there was no guide left on the bottom of the board for the fence. The only thing I could think of was to take a 3/8" straight bit, and remove a bunch of the stock........before I ran it through 1 pass with the big bit. This worked ok, but was very time consuming resetting the fence and router depth.
I called MLCS technical support, and talking with the helpful guy, I had a "brain fart" !!! If I raise the router bit up enough to leave a 1/4" wide solid piece on the bottom of the board, then I can move the fence and do it in multiple passes !!!!!!!!!! EUREKA !!
The same thing is true about the other foot bit, you need to leave about a 1/4" below the bottom of the bit, then you can do it in 2 passes, which worked fine.
Once you get the 2 moldings routed, it doesn't take that long to make a box. But, I kind of got in a hurry..............and forgot to scrolls saw the bottoms of 3 foot pieces when I assembled the box !! I was able to saw them out using a hand held saber saw ok.
Driving a 1-1/4" long finishing nail from the narrow part of the foot into the box did not work with red oak. I even drilled a pilot hole with a cut off piece of finishing nail. The cross section is so thin at the top, the wood wants to split. I string clamped and glued the back foot piece on, drying it quickly in the oven. Then I cut the 3 other pieces, and use string clamping around all 4 foot pieces, plus another string to clamp the foot pieces to the box. This seemed to work ok.
I found it helped to draw a 45 degree line on the bottom at the 4 corners, this tells you about what length to miter the 4 pieces for a good fit.
I wanted a mirror finish on this box, so I used Behlen Grain filler. The process I use is:
1. Stain and let dry
2. Stir up Behlen in its can, it always settles out. I used a cordless drill and a piece of bent wire to mix it. Hand rub into oak.
3. After about 10 minutes, wipe off excess with plastic scraper that comes from Behlen, then rub with burlap to remove the rest. Let dry.
4. Sand to 220 grit
5. Stain it again
6. Coat #1 polyurethane
7. Sand 220 grit
8. Coat #2 poly. Can do another sanding and 3rd coat if you want
It turned out pretty nice. The main thing was that I figured out how to make multiple passes on the router table with the big bit for the box sides.
I like the mirror finish on the lid from the Behlen's grain filler. I filled the outside of the box also.........and was able to remove the excess filler with rubbing, and a dental pick ok.
When you glue the feet onto the box, remember to take a damp rag and wash off the excess glue on the outside of the box. I did 1 side, but forgot to do the other.........so I had to scrap some glue off.
There are no nails in this whole box. I tried using finishing nails to attach the feet to the box, but it split the thin molding. Titebond II glue is only thing holding box and feet together. I did hand nail 1/2" long brads between the Luan bottom and the box. My air nailer jammed again, plus I did not want any air nails sticking out at the wrong places!