Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Pine Box: Part One

Yes, the time has finally come when it's simply necessary for our unit to have a cooler at events. Not mandatory, because it would be possible to eat just dried meat and fresh veggies and fruits, but we're choosing to go with the option of being able to have some tasty meat dish roasting over our fire (and since we know a little more about germs and bacteria than the people of the 1750s, we're going to play it safe and keep our meat in a cooler).

However, being the passionate re-enactors that Erik and I are, we didn't want to just bring a cooler along and cover it up with a blanket. We wanted it to be securely hidden. Thus, the pine box was born. We chose pine for two reasons - firstly, it's cheap, and secondly, the Rangers are from (and spent a lot of time) "up North," where coniferous trees abound. Thus, pine seemed like the sensible option. The one thing we did not do before starting this project was to do a detailed research of boxes of the time. We knew they'd have several boards making each side, because plywood and particle boards weren't really an option during the time, and we wanted to make it look sort of like a crate, because the Rangers spent a lot of time on boats traveling on the rivers.

With these two goals in mind, we measured our guaranteed "Five-Day-Cooler" and headed to the lumber yard. We finally chose a variety of boards, loaded them up, and headed home.
The wood sitting in our garage, waiting for us to get started. We began that night with cutting the boards (by hand-sawing them) to the right lengths. Erik did the sawing, and I sat nearby and filed/sanded the edges down a little in order to avoid rough edges and splinters. After finishing several pieces, I stacked them up to the cooler - and realized we'd made a terrible mistake! We'd forgotten to account for the fact that when a board says it's one inch by six inches, it's actually more like 3/4ths of an inch by 5 1/2 inches. Fail! We had to go back to the lumber store the next day and get "1x2"s to put around the top edge so we'd have enough room for the cooler.

The next day, after buying more lumber and getting it cut and filed, we went to the next step - adding linseed oil. Linseed oil was used during the 1750s in order to make the wood a little more water resistant and to add just a little bit of a polished look to the wood. It's really not very noticeable at all, and doesn't really change the color of the wood. Erik had the great idea of lining up all our pieces on boards so we could conveniently "paint" all of them with the oil:
One thing about linseed oil: It is flammable, and even combustible! The rags can actually burst into flame if you're not careful with them, because of the large amounts of heat that come off the oil as it's drying. We didn't have any rags burst into flames, but I could feel the heat coming off of them! We had to wait another day for the linseed oil to dry. This is a good break point, so I'll return next time with Part Two: Joinery and Assembly!

1 comment:

  1. Glad you weren't so authentic as to work by lamplight this time! Yikes!