Today I am working on the main body of the bier. I am making the main structure of the base from poplar. It is strong but lightweight and sands down very smooth to accept paint well.
I start by flattening the poplar stock that I have, then jointing one edge perpendicular to the jointed face.
This gives me two perfectly flat faces exactly 90° perpendicular to each other.
Then I can cut the boards roughly to width and plane them down to 3/4″ thick.
Next step is to figure out what boards go where and cut them to their final width and length.
For the perimeter of my box, I clamp together the two sides and two ends so that they will be cut to the exact same lengths. If one is slightly off, the box frame will not be square, and that will cause problems with every other step of the assembly.
To join the outer band boards of the box together, I like to use my lock miter bit in the router table. This bit gives me a perfect 45° miter and a tongue and groove glue joint at each corner for strength.
I use a setup block, that I made the first time I used this bit, the set the height.
Then I laid both of the sides together and lined up the ends. I also added a small sacrificial block to the end and applied a piece of double-sided tape across the end of each.
To this, I attached another strip of wood. This strip rides along the fence when the entire end of the boards are cut away by the bit. I also added a clamp across the middle to hold the two main boards together.
The longer sides are laid flat on the table and run carefully across the bit.
This bit is tedious to set up properly but it gives a very nice cut, if done correctly.
The sacrificial block usually gets pulled away before I can fully complete the cut, but it did it’s job and prevented tear out as the bit left the last piece of wood.
The process is similar for the shorter ends, but they are stood on end and run along the fence to create an opposing tongue and groove for attachment at 90°. If I laid them flat, like the sides, they would not join.
After removing the double-sided tape and the extra piece of wood at each end, I dry-fit the frame and checked for square. See how nicely the joint fits together?
I applied glue to the lock-miter cut ends and started clamping the box together.
I put a clamp on each side to hold it together while it dried, and a long clamp across opposite corners to hold it square. I measured across both corners to make sure the dimension was exactly the same. I also used a square to double check each corner.
While that was drying, I double checked the internal dimensions and made sure all of the internal structure was cut the correct dimensions to fit tightly. I also marked the location of the boards that will frame the socket for the base. It needs to be just right so the base will fit fairly tightly.
After everything dried, I started laying out the inside.
I used glue and brad nails to start attaching the framework.
I used two brads into the end of each board, using a 1/2″ thick piece of plywood to hold all of the framework flush to the top as I nailed.
This gives me a 1/2″ recess at the bottom to attach a piece of plywood.
I measured and cut a piece of plywood to fit tightly within the base, then applied glue to each piece of structure.
I marked the outer frame at the location of each piece of structure so I could line them up with a straight edge and nail along it.
once the bottom was installed, I folded up a piece of paper, that had the base of the statue traced on it, to be the exact size of the base. Then I used some pieces of dense foam, that will be lining the socket, to do a test fit. It looks like it will work perfectly.
It has been a long day, so the last thing I am going to do today is cut the two strips that help receive and retain the poles. They have 45° bevels on one end so I set the table saw blade at 45° and ripped two boards, slightly over-size.
Then I flipped them around and cut away the sharp edge.
Enough for today. Tomorrow, I will start working on the top.