Wood is sharp

This is not directly related to puzzles, but I felt it worth posting regardless as it does tie in to my progress from puzzle solver to puzzle designer.

Last night I was asked by my oldest son to help him to make a box for my youngest son who’s 13 today. So given that I plan to look at building puzzle boxes, that’s my tenuous link for posting this. (Run with it … there’s good info in here!)

So he wanted to make a box to hold his brothers Bakugan toys. A nice gesture, and who doesn’t want more storage, especially when it’s made from wood? We picked up some Red Oak to use as the sides and some Yellow Poplar as a base. The different coloured woods should give a nice enough contrast, and given that this was last minute, it had to be something we could put together in one night. Nothing like a last minute challenge!

Given that this was to be a simple box, I went with a straight forward 45 degree cut at each corner to create the outside of the box, which would be glued together creating the walls. After the first piece was cut, I picked it up to move it to the side, and in doing so, sliced my finger open at the side of the nail. But it’s only wood, surely it can’t be that sharp?

The problem is that the Red Oak has a hardness of 1290, and is a reasonably dense wood. While it’s not the most dense, or hard, it’s substantial. What that meant was that when we’d cut the 45 degree angle, the thinnest point was really thin, and it kept its edge. IT effectively created a knife on edge of the cut.

So if you’re looking at building puzzles, and you’re going to put angles in there, remember, wood is sharp.

For all those experienced wood workers out there who are currently thinking “Well duh, of course it is”, I apologise. I am neither an experienced woodworker, or puzzle crafter. I learned something very useful last night, and hopefully others will take something from my experience.

More real puzzle stuff coming soon.

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