First Production Run

December 29, 2008 at 6:25 pm Leave a comment

This first run is as much a test as it is a desire to get busy. I recently was in my local home center looking at the hardwood selection. I spotted some maple that had some curl to it. After closer inspection there were two boards of 1x6x6′ maple like this. After some careful consideration and planning I purchased the two boards. I also picked up a board of Aspen with the same dimensions. The Aspen was to test out my cut plan and perfect my setups for the compound miters in my case style as well as trouble shoot the construction process.

At the same time I had been contacted by two people wanting me to build a case for them. One was to be a full on build for the XBox 360 and the other was to be a blank unpainted case. The first customer wanted a black painted case with artwork from the Japanese Manga “Bleach”. I had to tell him that due to the cold I couldn’t do any painting. However I did have some wood dye and could go with a hardwood case dyed black. He agreed and the planing begun.

With two orders to fill I had to get started. My cut plan came out quite well and there was still some waste. Next time I’ll redo the plan as the long sides of the cases is a little on the short side. As it sits now it works fine for a 6 button layout but a 8 button layout is close to the edges. Even with extending the long sides I should still get enough pieces for 5 cases out of each board in the future.

The miters still are not perfect but it is real close. Close enough that I can fudge the corners and it still come out looking fine. After gluing the sides together I took all 15 shells to the router table for edge treatments. I did about half & half chamfered and rounded edges. The next step involved using a flush trim bit to flatten the inside face back to 90 degrees. This makes adding the top panel and Plexiglas a simple affair. If I didn’t do this the compound angles would be near impossible to get right every time.

It was at the router table that things began to go wrong. Because the side buttons were already drilled the router bit bushing went into the holes on one case reminding me that I needed to do that section by hand. One case wasted, at least it was one of the Aspen cases. The next problem occoured with the flush trim bit. I was taking too big of a bite with the bit and it broke two of the cases at the miters. One was an Aspen and the other was a Maple case. The Aspen case was toast. The Maple case though was reparable.

Next came the preparation for finish. I had help at this stage. My sons helped me with sanding the sides smooth on the cases with the rounded edges. I used hand planes to work on the cases with the chamfered edges. The look of the cases was a bit different at this stage as the sanded cases had dust in the pores of the wood giving it a cloudy appearance. After using my shop vac to clean out as much of the dust as I could I moved on to the dye stage.

Since my full build order was to be black I took one Aspen and one Maple case and dyed them both black. I wasn’t too keen on the Aspen case but the Curl in the Maple case just popped out. I took a picture of the two cases and sent it to the customer. He flipped over the Maple case as I thought he would. I’ll finish the Aspen case anyway and sell it as a blank case, no controls. I continued using different colors on the remaining maple cases that were ready and that is where I stand now. Next is to cut the top and bottom panels and brush on the water based polyurethane.

Click on these photos to see a larger version. Sorry about the quality, these were taken with my cell phone.

Black Dyed Maple and Aspen Cases

Cases still needing sanded and dyed.
The two Aspen cases on top will be unfinished and sold as blanks.

Some of the maple cases with dye applied.

The rest of the maple cases with dye applied.


Entry filed under: Joystick.

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He who works with his hands is a laborer.
He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman.
He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.
– St. Francis of Assisi
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