Jul 2, 2017

Calipers Box

walnut hinged box with dark striations and "angel-step figure" on the left side
Finished pictures first. I completed the first of my set of calipers boxes (this one was the guinea pig version) and learned a lot about RealPersonWoodworking! The wood is domestic walnut, with cedar inserts on the inside. This box is for me, to replace the incredibly mediocre stock case my calipers came with.

top view of box showing additional lengthwise striations (comes from spiral growth of the tree trunk)
I got incredibly lucky with the selection of half-inch walnut boards at the store; found one with really nice figuring on one end. Of course the top side gets the prettier half. 

Finish was two coats of satin polyurethane rubbed on with paper towels, which did a surprisingly good job of preserving the grain texture. Would use again.

open view of box showing calipers sitting in custom pocket
 Calipers! I couldn't find any reasonably-sturdy brass latches for this box thickness, so I inset magnet closures (two sets of neodymium magnets). I plan to use this in machine-shop settings with lots of steel filings around, so I covered the magnets with cedar-endgrain inlay. Filings can now be easily brushed off without getting stuck.

close up of high-contrast red cedar inlay covering magnet closure
Here's a closeup of the cedar. I chopsawed a lump of scrap and lasercut the resulting endgrain slice (~1/16" thick). It was glued into the pocket and then made flush with finger planes and lots of sandpaper. I also have a rounded half-slot (don't know what those are actually called) for easier box opening. That was made with a router.

I missed some spots of glue (dark spots at the edges) when I was cleaning everything before putting the finish on, which makes me mildly sad. Lessons for next time.

close up view of box edge showing minor imperfections
All the pockets were freehand milled (I posted a fun video of me playing etch-a-sketch here) then cleaned up with chisels.

bottom milled blank with torn up sections of wood near the calipers jaws' area
Here's what the rough blank looks like coming off the mill. Originally I was going to felt the bottoms and therefore didn't care about surface finish in the pocket, but I liked the plain wood more... so more chiseling/sanding than expected.

box with top and bottom attached with hinges
Hardware is the good stuff - brass 90deg Brusso stop hinges.

Here I'm checking fit; shortly after this I had to alter my magnet setup to use two magnets instead of one.
side by side comparison of original and custom cases
Finished box is smaller than the old carrying case in all dimensions, so it's much more portable. More importantly, my calipers don't rattle around in this new one.

side by side view showing differences in thickness
Mitutoyo is a quality calipers company, I don't know why their cases are so inefficient.

calipers in finished walnut case
Made a box! One down, one to go.

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