TCD Toolchest, stock prep

Time-Constrained Dude’s toolchest. You might have noticed I like acronyms. I believe it is because of the work I do (software programming) where there is an acronym for everything, many of which are goofy programmer humor (GNU-Gnu’s Not Unix, one of those recursive acronyms). Somehow TCD stuck for this project.

As with any new project, this one started off with a trip to get some supplies and some stock. I went to a local place to get some Tremont cut nails, though after I bought my chest stock, I realized I bought the wrong size nails (4d, 6d finish, and 6d clinch). So I’ll be heading back to New England Traditions over in Marlborough to get some 8d nails. Nice place and they have a lot of hardware, in addition to large bins of cut nails, and some really nice laterns and chandeliers which might help dress up my house.

For my stock I took a trip to the CT wood group in Enfield, which is a bit of a hike from my shop, but they have very nice lumber and are open till mid-afternoon on Saturdays (unlike most places which close at noon). I like to linger over coffee on Saturday mornings, so I often get a later start than would be optimal. The search was for some 5/4 pine, but they didn’t have any in decent widths. However the poplar there was big enough to make a six-board chest out of (shock) six boards. So I got some of that, and like a dork, forgot to ask to have them surface plane it. They have one of those monster planers that will surface both sides at once and for someone who does a lot of hand work, that cuts down on all the drudgery of thickness planing.

But I now get to experience all that drudgery in all its sweaty glory. Hmm, maybe I am not as time-constrained as I think. I had them cut down the long boards into 5′ sections to fit in my Jeep, but that is also a convenient size for my tool chest. The boards on the right are about 16″ wide and the ones on the left are ~13 1/2″

I begin by crosscutting one of the longer pieces of the wide stuff with my freshly sharpened Disston hand saw. It doesn’t take much time and the saw tracked nice and straight, so my sharpening job must have been ok. The board has a bit of cup, so I get some of those contractor’s shims (which are real handy) and stuff them under the far side and begin by planing across the grain with my #6 and a heavily cambered iron. I first put a small chamfer on the far side so I don’t blow out the wood too much.

Snick-snick as the plane crosses the grain. It takes some impressive shavings and with a little wax on the sole, really doesn’t take all that long.

As I get close to getting rid of the cup, I switch to diagonal strokes with the same iron/plane, set for a slightly thinner cut. I use the edge of the plane to check for gaps. Once close, I check for wind, then use a straight edge at various points across the surface and diagonally to confirm it is pretty close to a jointed face. I then break out the jointer and take out all the little valleys planing with the grain.

Satisfied, I take the stock and begin working the edge. At this point I am not trying to get the edge perfect, I just want to get rid of most of the rough edge so that I can see the gauge lines for the thickness planing. I flip it over and the do the same to the other edge.

I find the lowest corner and set the gauge to that size and run the gauge around the ends and edges of the stock. I use a thin mechanical pencil to highlight the gauge line.

I have a hump in the middle, so I set the #6 to take a decent shaving and start the more difficult planing by running it straight down the center, then slowly moving to the edges. This is where you build some hand planing character. And burn some calories. “Oh that’s right Private Pyle, don’t make any [bleeping] effort to get to the top of the [bleeping] obstacle. If God would have wanted you up there he would have miracled your ass up there by now, wouldn’t he?”

I got the front and back done, and decided to work on the sides after dinner. Tools used so far: Disston hand saw (10pt, crosscut), #6 fore plane, low-angle jointer, workbench w/planing stop, a couple of clamps for cross-grain planing stops.

Leave a comment


  1. Al (Thomas)

     /  October 23, 2011

    Okay I confess I would have made a u-turn back to the store or fired up my planer but you’ll get a lot more satisfaction from your board work! The boards look good in the last photo. Also nice to know about New England Traditions as a source for nails and hardware. I buy my cut nails direct from Tremont and search everywhere for hardware…..
    I;m just back from finishing a 2-day course on Sketch-up. Pretty good stuff for non-techie guys like me. Now to practice drawing stuff – just like woodworking.

    • Sketch-up is a fun tool for prototyping things and getting a sense of proportions. But like anything it can be a time sink to get up to speed. Once you do though, I’d suggest just using it for basic things (don’t try to get dovetails looking perfect in the model) and then diving into the project. I’m no expert and don’t really plan to become one. I do too much computer work in my day job as it is, and in some ways, I think my hand tool use is a bit of a luddite reaction to that.

  2. David Boles

     /  November 29, 2011

    Nice looking work, Joe – clearly applying lessons from Chris Schwarz’s class in August. No snow down here in Austin. In contrast – remember the wax blocks that were handed out at the class? I brought one back and it literally melted into a thick puddle on my workbench in the heat of late August.

  3. Hey David! How goes the woodworking? Too bad about the paraffin, but I can see that happening in Austin. I’ve been swamped at work (tax fun) so haven’t gotten back to the TDC toolchest. Maybe once I get a break around Christmas.


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