By Jim Cummins

When my boy James was born about nine years ago, he proved to be an easy keeper and a good sleeper. Each eventide alter we'd settle him down, he would pull the big red ring on the plastic music box hanging from his crib, and it would play him to sleep with the tinkling notes of "Hickory Dickory Dock."

The box eventually fell apart, but 1 saved the movement because its tune evoked those bygone days.

This year, with my boy old enough to collect treasures like baseball cards and gravel, the time seemed ripe to put that movement to work again. I decided to build him a music box that could also hold some keepsakes. In keeping with an old tradition. I wanted to inlay

a coin minted in the year he was bom. I Itimatcly, I came up with a way to use an Olympic silver dollar as pan of a rotary switch to mm the music off and on. (See sidebar, A Switch With A Twist, page 55.)

My first step in constructing the box was to choose an appropriate soundboard. Just as a tuning fork or a violin needs a soundboard to amplify its vibrations, so does a music box movement. My movement's original soundboard was plastic, but because I'd built and repaired a number of musical instruments over the years, I had scraps of various-tone woods on hand. I experimented and found that the harder and denser the soundboard, the crisper the sound. As if to mock my efforts, however, the loudest, dearest, and best-sounding notes occurred when I laid the movement on my benchtop, a 4 x 8 sheet of plywood reinforced with a nailed and glued grid of 2 x 4s. "Stradivari," I mused to myself, "if you had only known____"

The soundboard I eventually chose is vertical-grain (quartcrsawn) cedar, the same stuff you'd find in a shingle or old siding. I made the box itself from walnut, using all-mitered construction. With this method, you miter every edge of every side of the box, glue it up, then cut it apart to form the body and lid. If you've never made a box this

Silver Dollar Siding

A. Keepsake Box With a Silver-Dollar Switch mOTOIYJOHNMAWl

A. Keepsake Box With a Silver-Dollar Switch mOTOIYJOHNMAWl way, give it a try. (See aw, #14, for more on boxmaking.) The process is slick and fast, provided your machines are set up properly.

Constructing the Box

First, thickness your wood to a uniform dimension. Mine is x/i in., but this dimension isn't important; just be sure all the wood is the same. You can use mitered construction with any thickness. The top of my box is 7 in. wide because that is the width of my planer, and it's 11 in. long and 3 in. high because tliat looked about right.

After you've thicknessed the wood and ripped it to width, carefully cut the pieces square to length. Now tilt and l<x:k your tablesaw at 45° and verify the setting on some test cuts.

Set your fence so die work will pass between die fence and the blade, and miter one end of a short side. If the work is long enough, you can use the miter gauge in conjunction with a fence. For short work, use a square back-up block to provide stability. Without moving the fence, turn die piece around and miter the other end.

Don't move the fence until you have mitered every 7-in. piece of wood in the box. This is the whole trick in all-mitered construction. While any of us can reset a fence within a couple of diousanddis, that's not good enough for this job. Similarly, when you've set your fence for the 11-in. or 3-in. cuts, don't move it until they are all done. If you want the box to end up 3 in. high, allow a little extra height for the saw kerf that will separate die lid from the body.

Test fit your box by taping it together, as shown in the photo. If it isn't airtight, you need to spend some time on machine maintenance. Your planer may be out of whack, your tablesaw blade not parallel to the miter-gauge slots, the fence not square, or the miter gauge not at 90°.

Drilling the Feet

The feet arc not only decorative, but also raise the box to let the sound come out the bottom when the box is closed. To make them, first round over the bottom edges of the sides with a '/•-in. round-over bit. This is best done on a router table with a fence because the points of the mitered comers will slip rS

mitered music box

Drill 1/2 in. dia. holes with Forstner bit.

To align tin* joints, tape the hox together and fold it into shape. Adjust the tape an necessary, then unfold the hox lo apply glue, (áit olT the lid alter the glue dries.

To align tin* joints, tape the hox together and fold it into shape. Adjust the tape an necessary, then unfold the hox lo apply glue, (áit olT the lid alter the glue dries.

All cuts on walnut lid and sides are 45° miters.

V4-in. cedar liner locates lid and holds down soundboard.

V4-in. x 6-in. x 10-in. cedar soundboard rests on glue blocks behind feet

Round over bottom edge before forming feet

Drill 1/2 in. dia. holes with Forstner bit.

See sidebar drawing.

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Woodworking Tools and Installation Tips

Woodworking Tools and Installation Tips

There are a lot of things that either needs to be repaired, or put together when youre a homeowner. If youre a new homeowner, and have just gotten out of apartment style living, you might want to take this list with you to the hardware store. From remolding jobs to putting together furniture you can use these 5 power tools to get your stuff together. Dont forget too that youll need a few extra tools for other jobs around the house.

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