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Project: Bandsaw Book Box
By Brian Horais

Click on any picture to see a larger version.

Here's a project for those of you who have access to a bandsaw and some basic woodworking tools and skills. The final product is a 2-drawer 'small items' book-like container made from a single piece of wood. If you've made a bandsaw box before, a lot of this process may be familiar. If not, the detailed steps provided in this project description should give you enough information to produce something that looks like a partially open book with drawers, as shown in the images below.

Cutting the Basic Shape

The bandsaw 'book box' shown was made from a single piece of a walnut log that measured about 7 inches in height and 7 inches in diameter before work began. The first step, after making a flat/perpendicular cut on the top and bottom of the log section, was to draw the outline of the book shape for cutting on the bandsaw. Book binding edges (the small ridges) were added to give the book a more realistic shape. The basic shape was then cut out on the bandsaw. Be sure to follow bandsaw safety procedures and adjust the height of your blade guide properly. Always watch the cutting area closely and never get your hands/fingers in the cutting path. Here's what the book shape looked like before and after cutting:

The cutout shape was drawn to look like a partially open book, with the pages 'fanned' out. You will notice that the walnut log I selected had some splits. I tried to minimize their impact by the way I positioned the book outline for cutting.

Cutting the 'Pages'

Now we can begin the process of cutting out the pages and forming the drawers. The first step is to draw a smooth line for the cutout of the page section, taking into account the blade size you are using and the amount of continuous curve you can cut. I was using a 3/16-inch blade which provided good curve cutting capability. Blades larger than 1/4-inch may limit your ability cut the curve near the book 'spine. Here's some images of the cutout outline and the page section after cutting:

The majority of the work that follows will be done with the 'page' section cutout. In order to provide some indication of the pages in the book, the bandsaw can be used to cut a series of vertical lines on the curved front face of the page section. For this size of box, I found that the centimeter scale of a flexible ruler let me mark out a series of lines for the page cuts. Carefully holding the 'page' block of wood, a series of approximately 1/4-inch cuts are made on the front face of the block as shown below:

Although the front face of the 'page' section now looks good, the top section needs some additional work to make it look more like the pages of a book. Using a small ruler, a series of diagonal lines were drawn from each line cut on the front of the 'page' block to the narrower section at the spine of the book. Then each of these lines was cut approximately 1/8-inch into the top of the page block. Two methods are shown for these cuts; a handsaw (watch your fingers) or a powered oscillating saw. If you are fortunate enough to have an oscillating saw, I highly recommend using it. The cuts go much faster.

Making the Drawers

With all of the page line cuts completed, it's time to begin cutting the drawers. The sequence of cuts is important here to make sure you preserve the front-page sections of the drawers. The first step is to cut off the top of the page section. The thickness of the cut is approximately 1/2-inch to make sure it has enough strength. This is the approximate thickness of the drawer base and drawer shelf cuts that will be made in later steps. You can vary this thickness depending on the wood you select. Once the top section of the pages has been cut off, the front face of the curve page section is cut off on the line as shown. This forms the front sections of the drawers.

After you cut off the front face of the page block and set aside the top section, tape the front curved section back on the page block and make a cut where you want the drawers to separate. I prefer to make the drawers in different heights, with the top drawer shorter than the bottom drawer. The sequence of images below shows the pieces you will now have as well as the next two steps; cutting off the drawer base and shelf from each drawer and cutting out the inside of each drawer.

Because these steps need to be done in the proper sequence, I prepared a process drawing showing the steps in cartoon form. Here are the steps described:

You now have the pieces you need to complete the bandsaw book box. All that remains is to glue the parts together in the right sequence and do some fitting/sanding/finishing to achieve the desired look.

Gluing and Finishing

The first step is to glue the base of the book flush with the bottom of the book 'cover'. Before gluing and clamping, it is a good idea to lay out the drawer parts and make sure you have the proper orientation (up and down) and order so that all the parts fit. Because the parts were cut out together, they will fit the inner contour of the book 'cover' very well if you insert them in the proper orientation. Check the fit and then mark the orientation for the lower/upper drawer bases and shelves. If you try one of the sections in the incorrect orientation, you will note that it does not closely match the inner contour of the book 'cover'. This give you a clue that something is not right. Now, assuming you have dry fitted all of the parts and know their proper orientations, it is time to begin the gluing. Each drawer has a base and a shelf. Glue and clamp the base of each drawer onto the 'V' shaped drawer walls so that they closely match the drawer's outer contour. Next, glue the base of the book flush with the bottom of the book cover and clamp it. Clamps are a woodworker's best friend – you can never have too many. I like the adjustable style that have squeeze grips for the final adjustment and clamping. These seem to work best when you need a 'third hand' to clamp while positioning the parts. The image below shows the book base clamped in place and the bottom drawer in place ready to position and glue the front drawer face.

You will need to make sure you have the proper orientation of the bottom drawer face, by aligning it with the top (the lid) of the page section you cut out earlier with the diagonal lines. If you install the drawer fronts upside down, their lines will not match the lid of the page section. Also, you may need to sand the right and left vertical edges of the drawer front slightly to get a good fit in the book. Do some dry fit checking before gluing the front face on the lower drawer. Before gluing, use a thin cardboard spacer as shown to lift the front drawer face enough so it doesn't bind when opening. This will raise the front face slightly above the drawer, but that is okay. The next steps will take this into account. You can glue the front face in place when installed by carefully applying glue to the front sections of the drawer and then clamping the entire drawer in place. Be careful not to use too much glue or you will glue the drawer in place for good. Notice the small blue tape tab at the back of the drawer. I used this to pull the drawer out to check it after the glue had 5 minutes to set under clamping. When I confirmed it was not stuck to the sides, I put it back in place and re-clamped it.

Another approach is to put small pieces of wax paper between the drawer and inner book cover sections to make sure that you don't glue the drawer to the walls of the book. If you clamp the front drawer section outside of the book cover, it may not have the proper alignment. Once you have checked the drawer to make sure it is not sticking to the inner wall of the book cover, it is time to glue the upper drawer shelf in place. Add a cardboard spacer as shown to the top of the bottom drawer and then glue and clamp the upper drawer shelf in place. These spacers ensure that the drawers will not bind. Be sure to check the orientation of the shelf with a 'dry fit' check before gluing. Once the upper drawer shelf is glued in place, you can position the upper drawer and add the drawer face in the proper orientation. Use a thin cardboard spacer as shown and sand the vertical edges of the drawer face to provide a good fit with the installed upper drawer section. Orientation of the drawer face will be clear. If the lines don't match the lower drawer, it is probably upside down. Glue and clamp the upper drawer face in the same manner you used for the lower drawer. Once the upper drawer glue has set sufficiently to handle (after about 30 minutes with Titebond II), you can glue on the upper lined page section. Use a cardboard spacer on the upper edge of the top drawer and some shims as shown to position the upper page section while fit checking it. I like to have the upper page section positioned slightly below the book cover edge to give it a more realistic look. This may require you to remove a slight amount from the top of the upper drawer face by sanding (belt sander works fine). Once you have done the fit checks, glue and clamp the top page section in place, with the drawers installed (and the cardboard shim in place). This is the final step in assembling the main parts of the book. Shown below are the upper drawer clamping and page top shim steps.

The page top clamping and finished book are shown in the images below. Now the project is ready for the addition of drawer pulls and final finishing. This is where your individual creativity can be introduced. I added two drawer pulls made from small pieces of padauk positioned off center on opposite sides of the upper and lower drawers. After finish sanding I used a deep red dye to stain the page front and upper sections to provide some contrast with the book cover. I recommend using a small piece of sandpaper to finish sand between the page lines. This will give the final product a cleaner look.

The Finished Product

Once the stain was dry, I added two coats of wiping polyurethane and then buffed the outer surfaces of the book. Here are images of the final product with drawers opened and closed. Height is about 7 inches and the depth is 7 inches as well.

I hope you enjoy the process of making this bandsaw book box!

Brian Horais is a woodworker/woodturner who resides in Knoxville, TN. He is the past president and a juried member of the East Tennessee Woodworkers Guild and is also a member of the Smoky Mountain Woodturners. Several of his creations have been featured in the 'Art in the Airport' Show at Knoxville's McGhee Tyson Airport in 2016 and 2017. He has also displayed items at the Master Woodworkers Show in Knoxville, TN, in 2013, 2015 and 2017. Brian enjoys producing non-traditional items from interesting pieces of wood. His principal emphasis is on turning non-round shapes on the lathe. You can email Brian with any questions or comments at bhorais1@comcast.net. You can see more of his work, including tutorials, at his website at: https://sites.google.com/site/cabriturn/

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