I've been playing around with the idea of woodworking for pretty much the whole year now, watching videos on YouTube and tearing through a few books on the topic. I did a few simple projects leaning heavily on the laser cutter to do all the operations, but that isn't really woodworking. I finally decided to put together a land station, that is, a box for people to grab basic lands on those rare times a draft comes together!
The design is fairly simple, four planks of wood for the sides of the box, with 45 degree mitred edges, and four dados (slots) for dividers, plus a flat plank as a bottom. The dimenions of a card are (roughly) 3.5 inches tall, but 2.5 inches wide, and I ran with those for my first attempt. Trying to put a 45 degree miter along a 3.5 inch edge with a hand saw was a losing battle, and the prospect of putting in eight dados with a router plane (something like this) sounded frustrating. After quite a bit of hemming and hawing, I eventually bit the bullet and bought a router, some bits, and a table for it. While there was a sale going on at the time, I certainly had to convince myself that I'm excited for more than this one project.
The dimensions were driven in part by the cheap wood I had access to, namely long planks of quarter-inch thick, 3.5 inch wide pine. I kept the height and stuck with a single thickness to simplify the sawing operations, which are harder than they look. I ended up using a cheap clamping mitre box to establish a perpendicular cut line, and then clamped the piece to a heavy piece of scrap for the remainder of the cut to prevent tear-out (an issue that frustrated me enormously at first.)
My initial design had tolerances that ended up being too tight, and it was going to be impossible to get the cards in and out. The final dimensions of each piece are laid out below. The critical number turned out to be 2.75 inches - the width of the empty space (measured from divider edge to divider edge, not centers) for each card "lane". If that sounds a little too big, it's because it is, but a small error one way or the other won't prevent cards from getting into or out of the box. In the future I'll probably shave 1/8th inch off that value to reduce card "jiggle" in something like a deck box.
- 2x sides (L/R) - 3.5" x 5.5" x 0.25"
- 2x sides (F/B) - 3.5" x 15.25" x 0.25"
- 1x bottom - 5.5" x 15.25" x 0.25"
- 4x dividers - 3.5" x 5.25" x 0.25"
The dados to retain the dividers are 1/8th (0.125) inch deep on the front and the back, and were cut with the fence fixed to ensure they ended up aligned. I had to make up a 90 degree jig by clamping some heavy blocks to cut the furthest-in dados, as the fence can only move about 5 inches back from the bit, but it worked well enough. The mitres were put on with a 45 degree router bit, over many passes to carefully creep up on the proper depth. Once all the cuts were done, the front panel was off to the laser.
The pattern was generated using the vector mana symbols generously posted by Goblin Hero over at Slightly Magic, they had just to be scaled and moved around to fit the panel. I put down some masking tape to prevent resin deposition on the wood, but it also seems to have caused some line-artifacts in the final cut, likely due to "thick" overlaps attenuating the beam. In the future I'll probably avoid using tape and just sand the surface clean afterward, as the residual adhesive also looked to interfere with the dye and oil in a few places. For reference, it was cut on an Epilog Ext36 150W in raster mode at 600 DPI, 100% speed, 70% power, in a single pass.
After sanding all the sides with a ~250 git sanding sponge, the sides and panels were glued together using titebond and a 90 degree clamp, something I didn't even know existed before needing one. I was able to snugly fit in the divider into the back without glue, and press the front panel on for gluing.
After letting it dry over night, I was ready to dye and finish it. I'd experimented with some scrap wood from the same boards to see how the dye and oil finishes would look, and settled on Transtint golden brown diluted in water, and a Danish Oil finish. I applied the dye carefully, given all the warnings it comes with, and gave it plenty of time to dry. Then the oil finish went on and took all night to set, I opted for a single layer as I wasn't looking for a shiny or silky appearance, just sealed. At this point I finally glued on the bottom and gave it a few hours to set.
It definitely took a lot more time, effort, and learning to finish this than I anticipated, but I am happy with how it came out. I've already gotten a lot of good suggestions for improving it (e.g. cutting semi-circular access holes at the front of each row so you can always get at the cards, also adding a lid isn't a bad idea), but will probably move on to other projects for the time being. The next on my list is a commander deck box, and after that, a substantially more intricate box for my cube to live in. I've got to spread out that tooling cost somehow!