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Turtlecove Shoeshine Boy

Before tackling Dad’s urn I decided to proceed with a quick project that was already in my project queue, a traditional shoeshine box. The idea and plans come from  John and Joyce Nelson’s book, The Big Book of Weekend Woodworking: 150 Easy Projects.

Big Book of Woodworking

There are many creative project ideas especially if you are interesting in making children’s toys or clocks. Most of the projects I will never make but I really liked the shoeshine box idea. My father had one and the entire family used it while I was growing up. I don’t know where his box ended up but this plan was approachable even for a beginner.

I started the project with a trip to my local blue big box store and locating a better bin of wood than that I acquired for the saw bench. I ran across the select pine and was pleased, not too expensive, very nicely sawn and I think a good fit for a shoeshine box. I also picked up 6d nails and some brass hinges and hasp. I couldn’t find the little rubber feet called for so I tacked them on to a Rockler order (a good excuse to use the 15% off propaganda coupon).

Susan wanted to spend some alone-time with our middle daughter Callie and decided to take her out to the movies on Sunday, leaving me with nothing to do. Hum what could I possibly do to fill my time. Hey I’ve got it,  I could spend the day working in my shop!

Nelson summarized the project here:

Shoeshine Box Plan Exploded

Personally I wouldn’t think to use nails and would have actually preferred to use counter bore screws but…. I decided that I’ve not yet used nails and this would give me the chance to try something new. I’ll use my nail set and fill the holes with wood putty before staining. The select pine is really pretty and I certainly didn’t want anything dark so I selected something on the lighter side but I’ll have to pull out the can to remind myself what I purchased.

I’m getting pretty itchy for a table saw but that hasn’t happened so I’m still doing things by hand. I’m cutting to rough size on my miter saw then planing to fit. I struggle but I’m learning to use my eyes and finger tips and let the wood tell me what I need to do. So far it the wood hasn’t been all that chatty so I just have my way with her and hope for the best!

The Afternoon's Work - Closed Box

At the end of Sunday afternoon, I had the basic box constructed although I didn’t get a chance to nail the top. The author’s plan calls for the box to be fully closed in, then the top is cut off to form a “perfectly mated lid”. My challenge is to figure out the best way to cut the lid without a table saw as suggested. I WILL cut it open, the only question is will I do an OK job or will it be a bit of a disaster ???

Keen observers will notice that I varied from the plan by placing the side panels inside the front and back panels instead of the other way round. This was a tactical decision as I didn’t have enough of the wider stock left to cut the top and bottom so I made the box narrower to accommodate the wood I had purchased for the project.

Shoshine Box Before Nailing Top

So last night (Tuesday) was a regular shop day and I was able to do a few more tasks like laminating the riser blank for the foot rest and marking the cut lines on the foot rest top.

Foot Rest Riser

The glue-up for the riser went OK and there is no question about adequate of glue coverage on the long grain. I was sure not to leave any gaps but there was also a far amount of squeeze out.

Select Pine

I’m much happier with this wood, it’s pine but it’s quite pretty.

Marking the Cut Lines for the Foot Rest

So the last task of the evening was to rough in the cut lines for foot rest. I’ll use my jigsaw to cut this out then sand to the lines on my belt sander. I’ll also be using my router to dress the edges.

Cutting and shaping the thick riser piece will be the greater challenge. I’ll need to cut two 15° bevels in the piece. The bevel for the front, I’m planning on cutting with my miter saw but the long slope along the top surface I’ll likely cut with the jigsaw and plane/sand to the line. I’m still considering how best to shave off the ¼” slope on the top surface. I was thinking the router might work but the piece is thick and I’d probably have to route from both sides.

Foot Rest Riser Profile

What can I say, it’s a shoeshine box and I’m no artisan….but I hope to be one someday.

You have been reading an excerpt from the shop journal of the Turtlecovebrewer.

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