Final Arkansas Workshop Exercise – A Cypress Water Stone Box

For a final exercise for the Arkansas workshop participants I recalled back many years to a dovetailed, waterproof box I built three decades ago.  I found it to be a challenging and instructive project for me then and figured it would be the same for the others now.  And, I had just the right stash of 180-years old cypress to use as the material.

I tried to find my original box but it has disappeared somewhere in the maelstrom of recent years.  No doubt I will stumble across it immediately after returning home.  So, I made another one to give the students a prototype to follow.

The first things was to resaw some of my prized cypress to obtain enough 3/4″ stock for the sides and 1/2″ stock for the bottom.  Vintage select-grade cypress saws and planes like a dream, filling the room with the appealing and cloying scent of the wood  Some folks tell me it smells a little bit like a hippie chick wearing too much patchouli oil, but I like the scent myself (and the smell of patchouli in moderation) even if it does pull on my throat a bit.

I planed and sawed the boards in the usual manner, cutting the dovetails pretty tightly.  Cypress is a bit “springy” so a tight fit is achievable.  The bottom was made with a tight tongue and groove joint, with the panel chamfered and fitted tightly into a continuous dado cut with a plow plane.  I assembled the whole thing using brass screws through the dovetails to hold everything tight.

If I built it well enough I can soak it is water to swell the wood and render the box waterproof, a la a hot tub, and it can serve to hold my water stones.  A frame-and-panel lid will complete the project, probably after the workshop.