Well, my wife finally decided what she was going to get her mother for her Birthday. A couple of months ago she started thinking about getting her a nice wood mailbox, not one of the cheap ones you can get at the department stores though. My wife wanted to get her a nice handmade one.
After going online and looking at some of the high end, hand made mailboxes that are offered I got some good ideas. However, on the cover of the February/ March issue of Canadian Woodworking there is a real nice oak mailbox with copper arms for the newspapers. The one I made was similar to this one. I used the same wood and much of the same finish as the one on the cover of the magazine but used my own dimensions (I haven't got the arms done yet though).
This mailbox measures 13" x 5" x 8-3/4" with a sloped lid and it will easily hold those big brown envelopes and all the bills and junk mail as well. The sides are joined to the front with dados while the back is joined with a rabbet joint along with the bottom. When finishing I used 2 coats of cherry stain and three coats of diamond hard polyurethane.
To build this mailbox you will need the following.
72" of 1" x 8" finished oak or rough sawn oak.
2 - 1-1/2" brass hinges
2 - 2-1/2" Brass Screws
2 - Brass Finish Washers
(hang the mailbox)
4 - 1" wood screws (attach the spacers)
2 Sides - 5" x 7-3/4" x 5/8"
Front - 12-1/8" x 6-1/2" x 5/8"
Back - 12-1/8" x 7-3/4" x 5/8"
Top - 14" x 6" x 5/8"
Bottom - 12-1/8" x 4" x 1/2"
2 Spacers - 7" x 2" x 5/8"
The sides contain all the joints to receive the front, back and bottom. The sides have a taper on the top from 7-3/4" at the back to 6-1/2" at the front. There is a 5/8" dado milled 1/4" from the front edge to receive the front of the mailbox. The bottom and the back are joined to the sides with 1/2" and 5/8" rabbet joints. It is important when milling the rabbet for the bottom that you do not mill the joint through the front edge of the stock. You want to stop the rabbet when you reach the front dado.
Front & Back
The front is a rectangle measuring 12-1/8" x 6-1/2" while the back measures 12-1/8" x 7-3/4". The top edge of both pieces is beveled to match the slope of the sides. I did this on the table saw. Simply tip your blade over 17 degrees off 90 and make the cut.
The bottom is simply a rectangle measuring 12-1/8" x 4"x 1/2".
The top or lid is a rectangle measuring 14" x 6". The back edge is tapered to match the back face of the mailbox (Same angle as the front and back).
The spacers are attached to the back of the mailbox to hold it out from the wall. The allows the lid to operate freely and prevents the back face of the mailbox from being scratches by stucco siding and the likes.
Since it will be difficult to sand after assembly I did all my sanding before I put anything together. Starting with 100 grit and worked my way up to 120 then 150. With my sanding block I rounded all the corners off as well.
The assembly of the mailbox is simple. Start by applying glue to the front dado on both side pieces, and glue up the front of the mailbox. Repeat for the back and clamp. Flip over and secure bottom with a 1" line of glue in the middle of each side dado. This will allow for free movement of the bottom.
Note: Be extra careful not to apply too much glue in the joints. Any glue the squeezes out of the joint on the inside will be difficult to clean off.
Also, when using brass screw with hardwood like oak you definitely need to drill pilot holes. I found that I also had to lubricate the hole with wax.
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