Over the last couple of weekends I have made myself a wooden case for a deck of playing cards
This was spurred a little be my wife having made me a custom deck, though actually I wound up making the case to fit a narrow ‘bridge’ deck rather than the wider poker deck.
I’ve recently been quite interested by the art of card flourishes, and have bee practicing with various decks. All this playing with cards got me thinking about what I could make that would be custom and cool. This is where I hit upon the idea of a card case, rather than just leaving a deck in the cardboard case they came in, I could make a wooden case.
The idea started out as a very rough sketch of an idea, I figured that I could effectively turn a simple cylindrical box on the lathe, to get a nice fit for the lid etc, then just cut the sides off to leave a deck sized cross section. Then just attach some flat sides. As I thought about it more, I realised that I’d be wasting a huge amount of nice wood if I turned a whole cylinder, however since all I needed was the deck sized section, I would just glue some cheap softwood to either side to balance it out on the lathe, then just discard those scraps when I was done. This was a perfect job for the glue gun, hot melt glue holds strong enough for turning, but is also relatively easy to remove later.
Here is the glued up block, turned down to a cylinder.
Then I cut the lid section off, and started to hollow the main body
This was quite a delicate phase, the design intended for pretty thin walls, since I didn’t want the case to be excessively heavy. but turning thin walls can be tricky, and there isn’t much margin for error. Also the softwood I was using to balance things out was pretty fragile at this thickness and you can see here the large hole the formed in the side where a large section just caught and flew out. I was constantly checking the internal diameter with a card, and being carefull to pay attention to the narrowest part of the cross section, not the widest.
Once I had hollowed enough I used a heat gun to warm up the joins where the glue was, being careful not to over-do it and burn the wood. Just a little warmth was enough to cause some give in the glue and I was able to pull the sides off.
Here you can also see a card in place.
When turning the lid, I needed to make sure that the fit would be tight, and there was enough clearance in the lid section for the whole card to fit. So I kept stopping and checking with the base section and cards.
Once done, again I prized off the waste sides then laid everything down for a proper fitting. Here we see just enough space for a whole deck to lie inside the cross section.
Then I cut a couple of this slices of the same spalted beech, long enough to cover both the body and the lid. I wanted the sides to have the grain matching across the join, this required a little more wood than I would have needed otherwise, but the finished article looks much better for it.
I used gorilla glue to attach the sides , being careful to make sure I got a good clean straight edge at the join points, and the grain was as well aligned as I could make it.
What followed was lots of sanding to merge the sides into the curve of the cross-section, and make sure I kept a tight fit.
And here is the finished item with cards.