I thought I’d see how a bit of Redwood 2×4 works with hand tools. I started by re-sawing a 17″ length of Redwood 2×4 for the sides and bottom of the boxes. A single length of 2×4 yields four pieces that plane to 1/4″ or three pieces that plane to 3/8″ when cut with a fine kerf saw like my ryoba.
I’m still wondering how the Japanese shokunin would resaw lumber without a bench clamp. If the piece had some length to it I could lay it horizontally on the saw horses, but for short lengths cut into thin pieces?
One of the cats I’m taking care of, a beautiful little tortoise shell named Kristina, thinks my chisel roll is a nice place for a nap.
I planed the resawn pieces to thickness with my kanna at the planing board. Here you can see my kanna on edge for planing the edge of a board while atop another piece of board. This is largely the reason why the planing stops on the planing board don’t go all the way across.
Ripping thin stock to width can be difficult with a Japanese saw. The cutting angle has to be low to the board and a hand or foot keeps the chatter minimal. Vibram’s Five Fingers shoes are my typical foot wear when in the shop.
I used my marking gauge to help cut the small rabbits that join the sides of the box. Even though the early wood of Redwood is really soft the late wood rings are tough. I broke the tip off the blade of my marking gauge twice while cutting these rabbits. You use the gauge to score the cross-grain as deeply as possible.
Then pare across the grain with a chisel to remove the waste. In this Redwood I managed to pare away about 1/16″ at each pass of the marking gauge.
When you are 1/16″ to 1/32″ from your layout line on the end grain you can use the same set of the marking gauge to cut the rabbit to final depth.
On the lower right frame of the photo above you can see where I used my 1/4″ mortise chisel to mark the width for the dado that houses the top and bottom of the box. I use the same set of the gauge to mark both the top and bottom dado.
With the grooves marked out as deeply as possible the mortise chisel, bevel down, cleans the waste. You will have a lot more control of the cut with a firm downward pressure on the chisel.
I used my marking gauge to score the sides of the groove as I cut to depth. The gauge was already set to the outside most side of the dado. To score the inside edge I made a gauge block that ran along side the board, allowing me to use the same gauge to score both sides. There are so many faster ways to make a groove like this, but skill with a chisel does not come easily and is largely a matter of practice. For the shorter ends of the box I simply used a fine rip saw to cut the sides of the dado to depth. Much faster!
The hand plane finish on Redwood positively sparkles. I used two small finish nails at each corner to lock the joint while the glue dried. I decided not to add any kind of pull to the sliding top, nothing to interrupt the clean view of the wood. These boxes have a 16″ internal length for storing artist paint brushes.