[Medal Chest] Router Inlay

*Note to my readers—this is the secret project I’ve mentioned a few times.  It has consumed my shop time since February.  That’s why it’s been so slow on the blog for the last few months.  Now that it has been delivered, I can post the details.*

Today’s task was to fit the completed carving into the front panel of the box.  To do this, I decided to mark out the area I needed and use the router my dad donated to the shop last October.  It felt good to use this old workhorse, considering he used it to make a toybox on wheels for me when I was 2 that not only still exists, but now houses toys for my son in the basement.

I carefully looked at ideas on how to proceed from around the internet, and settled on Kari’s once more.  Her work is just plain inspiring.  So, with that in mind, I set off to imitate her…hopefully.  Maybe.

Since I was starting to feel the time crunch (mid-April is only weeks away now), I opted to forego the hand tools only and broke out the powah routah.  First I drew pencil lines on the front panel and got the carving exactly where I wanted it.   Then I took a Forstner bit in my drill and chewed down about 1/8″ (the final depth I was shooting for since the basswood “plaque” is only 1/4″ thick).IMAG3061

This was so I have a spot to start the router.  It’s not a plunge router, so the hole had to be started so I don’t chew the whole thing up trying to get going.  At least, that’s what it looked like in my mind.

When I put the router up on the wood and was about to pull the trigger, I realized that I couldn’t see the layout lines for [insert expletive here].  So, off comes the router and one goes the blue painters tape, cinched in just a hair inside the layout lines (I would be thanking myself for this in a few minutes  to make sure I didn’t go beyond where I wanted.  This is only the 2nd time I’ve used a router, by the way…IMAG3062

Right, time to rout.  I got the necessary safety gear and cranked ‘er up and within a minute or two, this is what I had (besides a nice pile of sawdust and wood chips):IMAG3063

As you can see in the bottom right corner, I went a tad be over the blue tape line when I got too excited about how easy the router was cutting the wood and it kind of got away from me.  Like I said above, I thanked myself for the tape because once peeled off, that little boo-boo was right on the layout line.  No harm, no foul.

Next, I took my chisels and Kroktskaft and went to town.  Gonna have to get me some full size chisels because the mallet dwarfs every tool I have right now…anyhoo, the chisels made surprisingly easy work of chopping through the maple and getting the router’s leavings cleaned up and ship shape.  Here’s what I had after 15 minutes:IMAG3067You can see the size difference between the mallet and the chisel….and the square chopped out of the maple ain’t too bad either.  Now for a test fit.IMAG3068Like a glove!  I think this is my favorite part of the whole project so far.  I love how that carving turned out and it’s got me really excited to carve more in the future.

Okay, so after patting myself on the back for a while, I took the plank and the carving and went inside to glue up (the garage is still only about 40° right now and it takes glue forever to dry so I just bring stuff inside).  Here is the finalized front panel, ready for assembly:

IMAG3070And now, there’s nothing left but the lid and finishing.  Gulp.  The curved lid that I had so brazenly designed now stared me in the face and grinned, beckoning me to my doom.  Awesome.   Not today, but soon.  Because I have more work to do.

Heh.  ‘Cause I forgot to add the bottom.   After playing with the Kreg Jig for over an hour—I mean actually playing…it was fun!—the bottom was finally attached.IMAG3078  Now the chest box was actually complete.


About Marcus Richardson

Marcus attended the University of Delaware and later graduated from law school at the age of 26. Since then, he has at times been employed (or not) as: a stock boy, a cashier, a department manager at a home furnishing store, an assistant manager at and arts and crafts store, an unemployed handyman, husband, cook, groundskeeper, spider killer extraordinaire, stay at home dad, and a writer.
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