Home > Woodworking > Shoeshine Box – assembly and stain

Shoeshine Box – assembly and stain

While Susan took Erin to shop for a prom dress, I continued work on my shoeshine box project. I started with the “easy” task cutting out the foot rest top and would tackle the riser cutout after I had “warmed up”. It turned out to be a typical day in the shop where some things worked even better than expected and some things didn’t work at all.


Because I aspire to be a woodworker I had the bright idea that I would cut out the foot rest using hand saws. I cut the first two short pieces off the front using my back saw on the bench hook. I scored the line with my chisel and pared out a wedge and the cuts were quite passable.

Didn’t Work

Encouraged I pulled out my Japanese pull saw to rip the longer tapers and began cutting the first side. Holy crap, I really messed it up! I indeed followed the line on the visible side and but the saw blade was somehow angled and it cut a significant bevel on the back side. What a hack!?!

Foot Rest Pad

This sent me running for my jigsaw to cut the other side. With one side beveled and the other not, I decided the best option was to set a similar bevel on both sides to work around my mistake. Out came the block plane and I went to work to make them look symmetrical.


I used my LA spokeshave (mentioned in the last post) to shave off a nice chamfer along the top edges of the foot rest. This tool was perfect for this task. Taking time to make even slices and being careful with the spokeshave angle I was able to keep the edges symmetrical. Results were nicer than expected.

Didn’t Work

The plans call for a ¼” rebate to be cut along the underside of the foot rest. I was cautiously optimistic this would be easy on the router table but I quickly botched the job. First off, the foot rest has 6 edges some of which (in the front) are quite short. Without a zero clearance fence my piece was swallowed. All was not yet lost as the rebate was not an essential build requirement. I simply cleaned up the cuts using the router and chisel and soldiered on. I’ve also giving some thought to just how easy it will be to add this feature to my existing fence either by using the T-track to make sliding panels or in a pinch simply clamping hardboard in front of the existing face.

Botched Rebate uder Foot Rest



I was concerned about the tools I was going to use to cut out the chunky riser block for the foot rest. I figured I could cut the angle on the front using my compound miter saw but the two slopes along the back were going to have to be cut by hand tool. I carefully measured and marked the profile on the block, and cut the front bevel on the miter saw without incident. Cutting the long slopes was a bit more tedious using the jigsaw but was made better by switching to a more aggressive blade and taking my time with the cut. I finished the job with my block plane which was made difficult by the shape. Two parallel slopes with a ¼” notch means you can’t get a full slice, it was a bit dicey and I spent a lot of time on it. The job was only finished when I took it over to the belt sander to true things up and remove saw marks. It took longer than it should have, but the results were acceptable.


When it came time to cut the lid off the box I was quite concerned  about the outcome! I used my circular saw and guide which I might add has been helping me make very straight cuts. I began by marking all four sides of the box and figuring out how to clamp the box and guide so nothing moved about. I was surprised and quite relieved that the cuts were straight and clean. I started with cuts along the two long edges but ran into a trouble clamping the piece when cutting the short sides. To solve the problem I used my tail vise and bench dogs to hold the box and clamps to hold the guide. On the last cut I taped a shim on the backside to hold the kerf open. I was pleasantly surprised that it worked without any trouble at all.

Top Cut off Box

After cutting the lid, I moved on to adding the latch and hinges. I marked and drilled pilot holes and tried to be very careful to not booger the tiny brass screws. Fortunately the hardware fitting went fine.  At this point I could glue the foot rest assembly to the center of the box lid.  All went fairly well although I had to get creative with the clamping. I used the cutoff from the riser as a caul and weights to secure it. I tried using F-clamps but it was hopeless with each tightening of the clamp, the foot rest would slide off-center on the glue slick.  I opted for weights which applied good clamping pressure without pulling the assembly out-of-place. You can see the cutoff I used as a caul (photo on right) under the top weight.

Creative Clamping      Creative Clamping Rear View


Didn’t Work

I was almost ready to stain but I wanted to fill the nail set holes first. I hadn’t purchased wood putty and I’m quite a way from the nearest store so I thought I’d get cute and make my own with glue and sawdust. All I can say is, it didn’t work. Over and over again, I tried to fill the tiny hole and wipe it smooth but all I managed to do was to smear the glue mess on the surface of my piece. I tried applying the putty in layers, three different time and even the holes that looked OK dried clear and you could still see the nails. I’m not saying this isn’t possible but I am saying that it didn’t work for me in this application and I really did try to get it right. I think the box looks better than this photo shows however it is apparent just how blotchy the stain job came out.

Staining the Shoeshine Box



I liked the stain color that I picked out. I couldn’t remember the name of it in my previous post but it is Minwax Golden Pecan. I didn’t want anything too dark and this was a good choice, golden with just a hint of red. Not happy with the all the homemade putty glue smears but that is par for this course. Experiment and learn. Hope for the best but plan for the worst!

MinWax Golden Pecan


So the journey continues and I learn and grow with each new task.

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

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