February 2012

Fine box making in the Shropshire hills
February 2012

Fine Decorative Boxes

Hello – this is pretty much a single issue newsletter, the main purpose of which is to announce my 2012 spring and summer weekend course dates, and to tell you a little more about these weekends than is currently available on the website.

Weekend box making course dates:

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Last year all weekends were full to overflowing so this year I decided to add three extra early dates. Two have been and gone, but I still have one place available for the weekend of March 17th/18th. Any takers please email me.

The 2012 spring and summer dates are as follows:

April 14/15
May 5/6 and 19/20
June 2/3
June  23/24

As usual I’m giving newsletter subscribers priority by announcing these dates before posting them on the website. I will be posting them on March 5th – if you’d like to be sure of securing a place please email me before then …


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Since my major upgrade of the fine-boxes.com website a couple of years ago it has become increasingly clear that the site has become overloaded with content. That is, I’m trying to make a single site cater for too wide a range of content. It has all been getting too unwieldy – not least because maintaining some sort of user-friendly navigation to get around easily has become a nightmare …

So, fine-boxes.com will shortly become four sites, one of which will be ‘box-making.com’. This domain currently points to the courses area of the fine-boxes site. As well as needing substantially to expand the material that’s there I want to introduce several new areas. One will be devoted to the workshop, another will be for my books [old ones are STILL available and the new one is getting there – honest!] and there will be a box-specific links area.

Box making supplies:

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And most importantly there will be an area on the new site offering the selection of box making supplies that I’m putting together. Please let me know if there is anything specific that you would like to be able to get, but can’t, and I will see what I can do. I will be publishing a comprehensive list in the next newsletter.

There will also be a lot more information about the weekend courses on the new site, an area that has needed updating for a long time. I’m currently working on that, so rather than point you to the old area for info on the weekend courses, here’s some of that re-worked material so you know what to expect …

Weekend box making courses:

where they are:

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The courses are held in my barn conversion workshop on the beautiful Acton Scott Estate, midway between Wenlock Edge and the Long Mynd in the South Shropshire hills. If you don’t know this area, you have a great treat in store – the countryside around here is stunning!

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what you make:

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Each participant makes a simple box approx 10″ x 7″ x 2 1/2″ with:

solid sides
veneered lid and base
decorative line inlaid around lid
lined interior
oiled finish

To save time all the conversion and some of the machining will have already been done, and there are usually choices as follows:

main wood – walnut, sapele, maple or cherry
veneer for the lid – walnut, figured maple, sapele or cherry to match solid
inlay around lid – usually a choice of two or three
lining – three or four colours of leather

what you learn:

How to veneer a panel to create the lid
How to glue up a box so that it’s absolutely square WITHOUT having to measure diagonals …
How to cut off the lid quickly, easily and neatly [the boxes are made ‘closed’]

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How to accurately and safely cut the grooves for the inlays inverted on a router table ‘unseen’
How to trim the corners of router cut inlay grooves square [if you haven’t guessed this by now you certainly will by the time you’ve read this newsletter!]

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How to make PERFECT mitres where your inlays meet at the corners – no men on galloping horses here!
How to sharpen and use the mightly scraper- the most versatile and best value tool you will EVER own
How to use abrasives to fully prepare for finishing
How to apply an oil finish

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How to line your box with leather

… and not to mention advice [admittedly a bit biased] about which hinges to use, and how to fit them, easily and quickly. And many other tricks and techniques along the way.

As the finishing takes three days [hard to fit into a weekend] and the lining can’t be done until the finishing is completed, what you take home is an ‘almost’ completed box. I will demonstrate the lining technique and supply the leather, and all other main materials are supplied. You will need to buy yourself a few inexpensive items to complete the project.

I send out comprehensive email notes on any processes that we don’t quite finish – and I’m available for after-sales service, either by phone or email, should you have any queries or problems. I also send out a suppliers’ list which is being added to all the time, not least by weekend course participants!

Please email me if you would like to book a place.

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Furniture & Cabinetmaking review:

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One other brief bit of news for now – Robert Ingham has written an excellent review of my corner jig in this month’s Furniture & Cabinetmaking [March issue, no 190] – go here
to have a read. It has been awarded a place in their 2012 “Dreamteam”, as was the smartHinge in 2011.

So, all for now – there will be much more in the next issue, probably out around the beginning of April by which time there will be more to report on the box-making.com website and box making supplies.

Thank you for reading.

Andrew Crawford.