BOX BODY 27/16X43/8 X 8
until the dowel pin stops against the end of the slot. Now slide the lid down and use a knife to mark where the outside face and inside edge of the end key touch the bottom key. Notch the bottom key with a dovetail saw and use a chisel to pare away the waste. (See drawing, above.)
Check the locking action. If the mechanism works smoothly, lock the box and trim the end keys and bottom key flush. Soften all the edges of the box with a router and a '/4-in. round-over bit.
I used my drill press and a 1 -in. Forstner bit to hog out most of the waste inside the box. Since the finished depth of my box is l3/8 in., I drilled to a depth of 1 1/4 in., then cleaned up the bottom and sides of the opening with a router and a pattern-cutting bit.
The easiest way to do this is to make a template guide for your pattern bit. I glued up my template from four pieces of scrap to form a rectangular opening the exact size of the box opening. Don't worry about square corners in your template; the pattern bit will automatically create radiused corners. I aligned the template's inner edges with those of the drilled opening and rode the top bearing of the bit against the template while the bit cut the identical pattern in the box. (See bottom photo, opposite page.) You can scrape or sand any remaining router marks from the bottom of the box.
Next, I sanded all the parts of my puzzle box with 400-grit stearated sandpaper, and then I switched to 0000 steel wool to bring up the luster of the wood.
To preserve the natural appearance of the walnut, I decided not to stain the box. I applied two coats of penetrating oil finish with a rag, and left the box to dry for two days. For added protection and a more uniform appearance, I followed the oil with three wiped-on coats of polyurcthanc thinned 50/50 with mineral spirits, allowing a full day for each coat to dry. ▲
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