Beercase 2022

Closed Beercase

Open Beercase, showing inserts

Open Beercase, showing beer

For this year's BeerBBQ swap I decided to make a briefcase for holding beer or BBQ fixings or whatever. But since I had already done a BBQ Briefcase back in 2020, I wanted to make this one more beer specific, as well as upping my game a bit.

I started with some butternut I had on hand, resawing it to about 3/8 thick. When I did that, I discovered that it had some bug tracks inside, so I filled those with turquoise powder and epoxy.

Butternut with turquoise and epoxy fill

I also had some sapele from another project that I had resawed to a quarter-inch thick, and that looked like it would make a pretty top and bottom for the case.

I had a chunk of yellowheart remaining in Earl's Shorts (thanks again, Earl!) that looked like it would make a good handle, so I cut out a rough handle-shape, then turned nice smooth ends on it, and smoothed out the handle.

Yellowheart handle mounted on the lathe

Yellowheart handle spinning on the lathe

I found a scrap of granadillo I had leftover from a spokeshave a couple years back, and drilled a couple holes in that. It took two or three tries before I got a clean hole without splitting the wood with my bit, but I eventually got there by clamping the wood in the vise while drilling it.

Drilling a large hole in a piece of granadillo

With the hole drilled, I shaped the wood on the bandsaw, then the belt-sander, and then finally resawed it in half to make a matching pair of hinges for the handle.

Granadillo handle mount

Yellowheart handle and mounts

With the handle done, I dovetailed the case together and put in the top and bottom, then sawed it open.

Completed case, sawed open and held together with blue tape

Hinges and latches were next.

Installed hinges on the case

Drilling holes for the latch

Then the handle, screwing the hinges into the case from the inside.

Handle, attached to the case

With everything together, it was time to start finishing. I decided to use Tried and True Varnish Oil on this, since I had plenty of time. I ended up putting on eight coats, with each coat going on, let it soak in for a half-hour, wipe off the excess, let it cure overnight, then burnish it with 0000 steel wool before putting on the next coat. It's pretty easy, but not the most exciting finishing regimen.

The inside of the case got a couple coats of BLO. I thought about using tung oil for better waterproofing, but adding another three or four days of watching oil dry didn't seem all that exciting to me for some reason. Plus I hurt my back and was out of the shop for a while, so I wrapped it up and shipped early.

Before shipping I cut some closed-cell foam I had on hand to fit four 12-oz beer cans and two 16-oz tallboys. To make sure I got things right, I made wooden templates I'll be able to reuse down the road.

With the foam cut, I also found a cold-pack that would fit inside the case to help keep the beer cold. No point in carrying warm beer around, now is there?

Next time, maybe I'll get a handcuff with a chain to further secure the beercase to the wearer. Some things just need high security.

#woodworking #project

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