Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A Pine Box: Part Two

As promised, I now present to you part two of the pine box. After waiting the day for the individual pieces to dry, we then had to join the side beams together to form the entire sides of the box. Since we were doing all of this by hand and don't yet have the fine skills needed for woodworking, we simply glued the side boards together (instead of cutting a better joining method into the pieces) and then tied them together while they dried. And then we had to wait another day for the glue to dry.

This was, incidentally, an extremely messy project, and there are now dozens of little glue drops all over our garage floor... Oops.

The next day, it was finally time to start putting things together. Erik and I had purchased some mortar nails, because they are cut nails and more closely resemble the square nails that were being used during this time period. However, we couldn't get them to work without splitting our wood, and they were really, really long (over three inches long), so we had to sit and rethink things. We finally came up with an idea to "fake" the nails. We took each nail, laid it flat on the cement, and individually pounded the heads so they would have a square-ish shape to them. When pounding the nails into the wood, we had to pound them in most of the way and then start hitting the heads at awkward angles to create the faceted look that the heads would have had.

The picture is blurry this close, but hopefully you can kind of see the square, faceted look we put into the nails (each one, one at a time... I respect the blacksmiths who had to make nails one at a time!) There were a lot of nails that had to go into the box, because we had to nail the sides to the base, and then nail the sides together, and then nail the outer, "crate beams" to the sides.

Erik's friend Eric was visiting this day, and Erik took a break to go "play," while I pounded away at the box. It was fun watching them in between pounding down nails. After several days of work, rethinking, and lots of bent-headed nails, we finally finished the box.

So pretty! We made it so the "crate beams" extend beyond the edge of the box, so that they help hold the lid in place. And the final test...
And it fits perfectly! Yay! I was so proud of our box that I actually made Erik carry it into the house and put it in the living room so I could look at it.

I'm very pleased with the way it turned out and feel that it isn't a bad pass for a sea-crate kind of box. It's likely that a box similar to this would have held rations of salted ham (and when I say salted, I mean the box was full of salt, and the ham was buried in it). Erik says that by the time our rations of salted ham reached us out on the frontier, we likely would have thrown away the meat and kept the salt. This box could have been reused by us after using up the ham and/or the salt.
The box made it's debut event at Fort Wayne last weekend. It was SO handy, and hid the cooler very nicely. We were sleeping on the second floor of the fort behind our fly, and if we hadn't had our box, we would have been forced to trek up and down the stairs every time we needed something out of the cooler.

In addition, just like we'd hoped, the box makes an excellent bench, shelf, and table. We'd done what we could to make it sturdy enough for sitting, and after last weekend, our box really showed that it could do all of those things. I'm pleased as punch with it, and learned a lot from the project. Total, the box was around $45-$50 for materials. We probably could have purchased a box for $50 or $60, but we couldn't have gotten one built just the right size for our cooler, and we wouldn't have learned nearly as much (or had as much fun!) if we had bought a box. Hopefully this box will last for years of our re-enacting careers.

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