I have always wanted to make one of these grease boxes for the underside of a workbench. Knowing me, however, I’d probably keep paraffin in it instead of tallow. I learned to handplane using paraffin (which has no smell) as a lubricant. There is something odd about using mutton tallow – I work up a sweat and smell lamb chops.
A.J. Roubo does not say much about the grease box or how it should be constructed: “Below the table of the bench you attach with a screw a piece of wood in the form of a box, in which you put some grease, useful for rubbing the tools to make them smoother.”
I decided to make the box 1-7/8” thick, 3” wide and 5-1/2” long and out of oak. But I started with a bigger chunk of oak to make it easier to bore out the cavity that holds grease and to hold the piece as I finished chiseling the cavity.
The walls of the grease box are about 5/16” thick – give or take. That makes the cavity roughly 2-1/4” wide, 3-1/2” long and 1-1/2” deep. I bored out most of the waste and cleaned up the interior with a chisel.
Then I used a compass to draw a nice arc around the back of the box, as shown in Plate 11 of “l’Art du menuisier.” After rounding that off with rasps and sandpaper, I drew the curved relief under the box. This relief allows you to use a shorter lag screw, and it looks nice. I simply sketched it freehand and then roughed it out.
I also rounded the square corners of the box, a la Plate 11.
The box will be attached to the bench with a 5/16” x 3” lag screw and washer. I created a flat area for the washer (thank you, Forstner bit) and then bored a clearance hole for the lag screw.
Then I oiled up the exterior of the box and am now soaking the hardware in citric acid to remove the buttocks-ugly zinc plating.
This is the last little bit on this bench. I have only to apply my signature plate and await the truck that will come to pick it up.
— Christopher Schwarz