By Michael P E Kov Ic H

The Woodworker's Treasure Chest

Easy Woodworking Ideas For Beginners

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I had been floundering in art school for a couple of years when I stumbled into a beginning woodworking class. One of my first projects was a simple pencil box with a sliding lid. At wits' end for a way to secure the lid (short of tying it closed), I approached my instructor, John Snidecore, who showed me a simple, spring-loaded wood button catch.

Twenty years later, I'm still working wood and still using the button catch on a variety of projects. But I have since modified the design to work as a door catch. The concept is simple: A stepped button slides up into a stepped hole from below. A spring supports the button, and a wooden plug covers the bottom of the hole.

Hang the door and locate the button about 1 in. from the edge of the door, midpoint in its thickness. Transfer this location to the bottom of the case. From the bottom, drill a 3/8-in.-dia. hole, stopping Vs in. shy of the opposite side. With a ^-in. bit, continue the hole through the case bottom and use a piece of scrap to prevent tearout. Then wedge the door in the closed position and drill just into its bottom edge to create the cup for the button.

To make the button, simply chuck a short length of hardwood dowel into a drill press. With a file in hand, it's quick work

Shape the button on the drill press. Use a block with a pre-drilled hole in it to gauge the right size of the button.

Drill the stepped hole. Mark the bit with tape to indicate the correct depth.

Drill the button hole. Use some scrap stock to prevent tearout.

to create the desired profile. After a test fit, cut the button to length. Before doing so, I like to round and polish the top of the button while it's easy to grab. From this point, it's just a matter of inserting a spring in the hole and capping it.

For small projects such as my pencil box, I glue a plug into the hole and finish it smooth. For most case pieces, where long-term maintenance is an issue, I prefer a plate screwed to the case bottom, which allows for easier button replacement, if necessaiy.

Notch the back edge of the door. The notch is shallow and angled so that it will depress the button as the door closes.

One final task is to use a gouge or carving knife to cut a shallow notch on the inside edge of the door bottom where it strikes the button. This notch and the rounded button top combine for smoother door closing. □

Michael Pekovich, a longtime woodworker, is the art director of Fine Woodworking.

Cup for button



Cup for button





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A Course In Wood Turning

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