Type case (letterbak)

With my girlfriend having mentioned that she would like to have a decorative type case at some point, and with Mother’s day coming up, I decided it would be a challenge to make one for her.

I know a good design when I see it, but I don’t have a good design sense myself, so I decided not to spend too much time trying to come up with a design of my own. After some googling, I found a picture of the following Bloomingville type case that looked like just the thing I was looking for:

I took rough measures of the size of each compartment, and translated them to a 80x60cm size. (The original is 105x68cm, so slightly more elongated, but I found that out afterwards only.) With 4 “columns” in the design, each column would be about 14cm wide: (60cm - (5x1cm))/4 = 13.75cm. Calculating in some margin, and using 3mm deep grooves, I arrived at a width of 14.35cm for the separators. It turned out that I needed quite a few meters of wood to make the sides and the interior separators: 5x80cm + 2x60cm + 16x14.4cm = approx. 7.5m of plank.

The only wood I had that could be used for this project, was a few planks of 12cm wide and 1,2cm thick pine wood. However, this was low-grade construction wood with many flaws, so I wasn’t inclined to use it. I decided to buy better wood for it. Initially, I ordered higher-grade pine wood, but when I got to the wood shop, the person helping me said that while pine wood is nice, planks of 1cm thick would warp quite a bit from temperature and humidity changes if it wasn’t processed at once. He suggested beech wood, since that is dryer and doesn’t warp as much. I had only ever worked with pine wood, so I thought it would be nice to try a different type of wood for this project. The wood shop cut planks of 14cm wide and 1cm thick for me, and the beech was actually really nice, much nicer than the pine wood I had worked with before.

I first cut the planks to length: 2x60cm, and 5x80cm, and then cut 11mm wide grooves at the spots indicated by the design. I made sure the opposing grooves for each separator were at the same height by putting the two planks next to each other, and cutting the grooves across both planks in one go.

I also cut grooves of 6mm deep and wide along the edge planks, in which the back will be mounted, and 6mm wide grooves at the outer edges of the 60cm planks to receive the opposing 80cm ones. The result will thus be actually 60cm by 81cm, since lengthwise about 1cm is added.

The “long” planks look as follows after cutting, and making the grooves:

Trial fitting the long planks looks as follows:

And putting in some of the separators makes it look like this:

What is left now, is to sand everything thoroughly, make sure all the grooves are wide enough so that the separators fit nicely, and to trim the panel for the back since that is slightly too wide on both ends. When that is done, we can glue everything together definitively.

The whole package is glued and ready to dry now. I use two corner clamps to make sure the corners fit nicely together, and also ratchet tie-down straps in the middle of the sides and top and bottom to prevent them from bulging outwardly while under pressure from the corner clamps. I put some of the interior separators in place to make sure the sides are not pushed in too much. The back is also glued in place, with the corners held down by a few heavy objects.

The final step is now to glue the interior separators in place. This will be done when the outer structure has dried and after cleaning up glue residue and chafing from the corner clamps:

This is the final result: