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Topic: Tutorial: Applying Wood to an Altoids Tin  (Read 2564 times)
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microjivvy
« on: April 01, 2011 08:06:56 PM »



In the continuing saga of the Wicked Circus Tin, this tutorial addresses my decision to cover the outside of the tin with wood.


Wood by Many Names

For covering my tin, I used bass wood. My choice was based on the following facts: 1) I'm comfortable working with bass wood; 2) it's light weight (but not as soft as balsa); and 3) I have a small ton of it stashed away (all from the Northeastern Scale Lumber Co.).

But there are numerous types of wood that will work (and at least one that won't).  In the example below, I used a variety of wood choices -- everything from bass wood to matchsticks to a very thin mahogany.

Here's a tip about very thin mahogany: it doesn't like sticking to metal.



One source of cheap wood that works well is "Woodsies." Sold by the bag, these are bits of hardwood (birch?) designed for craft purposes and usually found in the "kid's crafts" section of craft stores such as Michael's. Popsicle sticks also work.



One Glue To Bind Them
Most standard white glues (such as Elmer's and Aleen's) will form a bond between metal and wood, but an incredibly fragile one.  Cyanoacrylate glues (CA), such as "Super Glue" and "Zap", form a slightly stronger bond, but with a low shear strength (which is a problem for this project -- more on that in the tutorial below).

Enter the Big Gun: Gorilla Glue. Because of fume inhalant concerns and just plain messiness issues, Gorilla Glue is overkill for most craft tasks. But when you need a bond that's going to hold up to some pretty serious manhandling, it's a great choice.

Even knowing how well Gorilla Glue works, I wasn't convinced the bond would withstand the abuse I planned to heap upon my final project. Which is why the tin I'm using in the tutorial below may seem to start in an abused condition -- it's the tin I used to test a variety of procedures (drilling holes, hammering the embossed logo, gluing wood).



Supplies
- Altoids Tin
- Wood (Woodsies, popsicle sticks, matchsticks, etc. )
- Gorilla Glue
- Latex Gloves
- craft sticks, toothpicks, etc. for applying glue
- Saw
- Mitre/Chop Box (Optional)
- Rubber bands (for clamping)
- Wood Stain or Paint
- Sandpaper



Step 1: Prepping the Tin
Use sandpaper to remove paint and rough up the tin where the wood is to be applied.



Step 2: Prepping the Wood
There are two ways to approach this step. You can either cut the wood to the finished size (this requires a good deal of precision) or you can cut the wood into approximately 1.5" strips and trim the strips after they've been applied to the tin. 

For my style of work, the second option is the way to go (I deal with enough "precise" work that I avoid it whenever possible).



Step 3: Applying the Glue

Select enough of your pre-cut wood to cover approximately 1/4 of the tin.  Set the rest of the wood aside.

Follow the label directions for applying the glue. Use water to moisten both the tin and the wood and then apply the glue to both surfaces. Apply it as thinly as possible (which I was not good about in this demo, ergo the "yellow foam" you'll see in later pictures).  Allow both tin and wood to sit for approximately five minutes prior to attaching them. 

Also note that I'm wearing latex gloves.  Gorilla Glue is not kidding when it says it will stain your skin.  It will.  And if you happen to have some acrylic paint on your fingers and then you get Gorilla Glue on top of that paint, you might just find yourself scrubbing your skin with sandpaper so you can be presentable at some meeting you have to attend.

Not that that ever happened to me.



Step 4: Applying the Wood
After five minutes, apply the wood to the tin. Remember, you're covering just 1/4 of the side of the tin.



Step 5: Clamp and Dry
Use a rubber band as a "clamp".  Surprisingly, this doesn't have to be a super-tight or heavily weighted "clamp" -- make sure the rubberband is soundly snug and you're good.

Allow ample drying time.  DO IT.  I know waiting is hard, but I strongly recommend about eight hours.  You're about to really test the bond you just created and if you don't allow the glue to thoroughly dry, you're just going to wreck your project and you'll have to start over at Step 1.



Step 6: Trim to Fit
Remove the rubber band and then use a saw to trim the wood level with the tin (as shown in the picture). 

This is the step really tests the strength of your bond (and why the low shear strength of CA glue makes it a poor choice for this project). Gorilla Glue passed the test with flying colors.  Other than the thin mahogany strips (which failed numerous attempts), none of the wood pieces budged during the rigorous sawing. 

This step is also the reason for only covering 1/4 of the tin at a time.  The sawing should be done with the blade resting on the tin, sawing outward (which is not possible if you cover the entire tin at once).

Sawing from the outside-inward actually increases the stress on the bond (not to mention it's much tougher to trim to the right height when you don't have top of the tin to act as a guide) and greatly increases the odds of you ending up with an unadorned tin in your hand and little strips of wood littering the floor of your workroom.

Repeat Steps 3-6 three more times or until you've gone all around the edge of the in.

If desired, use the same process to cover the top of the lid.  The top of the lid can be done all at once.


This process results in a stable covering for the tin -- as you can see in the image above, you can even drill holes (I did mine with a manual drill) without loosening the wood.



Step 7: Apply Finish
Finish the wood as desired.  Be aware, while the dried Gorilla Glue can be stained, it does not take stain the same way as wood does.  So, if you get glue on your the wood, there will be variations in the color.  This worked for me (I actually used glue to paint a "wear pattern" onto the wood, so that it wouldn't be evenly stained), but if you don't want a distressed look, either be super careful with the glue or use a paint finish. Smiley

If you're wondering about covering the bottom edge of the tin with wood, well, yes, you can. But, and this is the "but" that kept me from doing it, the finished tin will only open as far as a 90-degree angle.  If you want your tin to open fully, do not apply wood to the bottom side where the hinges are.

If you do decide to cover the bottom sides of the tin with wood, go ahead and apply the wood with the tin closed (to correctly line up the strips), but open the tin while the glue is drying -- nothing like ruining a project by gluing it shut!
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calluna
« Reply #1 on: April 01, 2011 09:38:05 PM »

Wonderful explanation and tutorial; thank you!
(and awesome tin, of course!!  Grin)
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craftylittlemonkey
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« Reply #2 on: April 02, 2011 06:12:08 AM »

Great tutorial, thank you! Just wondering about that little saw you're using, what is it called?
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Ludy
« Reply #3 on: April 02, 2011 07:50:33 AM »

Very cool.

I love Gorilla Glue. (and its cousin Gorilla tape) It's great for so many things. My only wish is that it dried clear.
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microjivvy
« Reply #4 on: April 02, 2011 08:14:42 AM »

craftylittlemonkey, it's a razor saw -- very handy saw to keep around and as tools go, fairly inexpensive (usually under $10).

Many places carry them, but http://www.micromark.com is my favorite source for small hand tools.
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« Reply #5 on: April 02, 2011 08:16:59 AM »

Holy moly. This is awesome. And deserving of a "This Rocks" for sure. Even with a tute though, I am a bit intimidated.....I'd be worried to go through all the work only to have chunks of wood falling off because I used the wrong kind of glue or something. It looks amazing though. Thanks for the tute.
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microjivvy
« Reply #6 on: April 02, 2011 08:25:19 AM »

You and me, both.  They do have a CA glue that dries clear, but I haven't tried it.  Since adopting a cockatiel, I've pretty much given up CA glues (due to the fumes).

I sometimes miss CA glues, but I swear I'm a more patient crafter without them, lol.

Very cool.

I love Gorilla Glue. (and its cousin Gorilla tape) It's great for so many things. My only wish is that it dried clear.
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microjivvy
« Reply #7 on: April 02, 2011 08:33:26 AM »

Thanks, snazzlecraft.

I have tons of glue in my stash and I wouldn't recommend trying this project with any of them except Gorilla Glue.  That said, with Gorilla Glue, the only pieces I had come off were the mahogany (total failure) and one or two pieces on the rounded corners.

The rounded corners were slightly problematic because while the tin is curved, the wood is not.  Cheesy However, with the corner pieces, I just reglued them (without removing all of the dried on glue from the first attempt) and their bond was good and tight.

I'm telling you, that wood isn't coming off unless someone works pretty darn hard to intentionally pry it off.

Of course, I (always) strongly recommend a practice round before performing a new process on your finished project.
 
Holy moly. This is awesome. And deserving of a "This Rocks" for sure. Even with a tute though, I am a bit intimidated.....I'd be worried to go through all the work only to have chunks of wood falling off because I used the wrong kind of glue or something. It looks amazing though. Thanks for the tute.
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