Grandpa’s Tool Chest

Before I start work, I often read some of my favorite woodworking blogs.  Because of my work, I start at 11am local time to have lots of overlap with my home office in California (I live and work in Connecticut).  This work schedule started about a year ago and at first it proved difficult but now I am used to it.  I still get up at 6 or 7 and have some morning leisure time and sometimes get in some turning or saw practice before the programming begins.  Anyway, earlier this week I saw this post by Chris Schwarz over at Lost Art Press, “White Star Tool Chest”. The white star chest didn’t grab me that much, but the illustration from “Grandpa’s Tool Chest” piqued my interest. It looks a lot like a project from one of my many woodworking books, and also one I had started and put aside when other life events took most of my free time.

So I dusted it off, grabbed my card scraper to get the munge off one of the sides (some kind of mold I’d guess, you can see it on the right back edge in the photo below), then tried out some of my tools in it. I need a place for my saws, molding planes, chisel roll, and rasp roll, and would prefer to put my planes in a more enclosed space. This seemed like a good option since I had the carcase made already, the dust panels in place, and just needed to finish the lid, and build some drawers for the lower section. A base would probably be a good idea too.

After scraping the side, I sealed it with some shellac (I had apparently done this to the other side already). Then I grabbed my longest plane–yup it will fit in a drawer quite easily.

My rip saw however was a bit too long, but I was able to grab a dovetail practice scrap and saw some kerfs in to see how the crosscut hand saw and my back saws would fit. I also grabbed some of molding planes and put them towards the back. Pretty spiffy. I think I’ll even have enough room at the top to make a sliding till for layout tools or saw files and such.

I have space for three good sized drawers and with some full extension sliders, I think this will really work out well for my tool storage. If I put a skirt around the lid that should cut down on the dust getting into the bin, though that skirt might be a bit tricky with the angle. With a base on it, the top of the lid will be at about mid-chest height for me, so it shouldn’t pose a problem putting tools in or out of the top bin. The slant-top ought to cut down on my propensity to put things on flat surfaces and leave them there as I work around the clutter (OCD I am not). I’m liking this idea.

This particular project is not difficult, the frame for the raised panel is just glued into a rabbet–I think the original project in the book just had a single flat panel. I made the frame with mortise and tenons, and raised the panel with my hand planes. For the sides I just used some pre-glued pine panels from a big box store. The back is in two sections with pocket screws holding the frames around a thin piece of luan, and both are rabbeted into the sides. The bottom of the upper bin is also a pre-glued pine panel and it separates the two back pieces. I do need to nail that to the sides at the front third or so of the panel so any wood movement goes towards the back. The dust panels are made the same way as the two back sections, pocket screws, luan, and glued into dadoes in the sides. I don’t think I even used cut nails, though I think I will add them. The frames are all made of poplar, and the lid will be a single panel with some wide bread-board ends, though I haven’t finalized that. I might use some gorgeous jatoba (aka brazilian cherry) I have from a different project. I’ll probably paint the sides and just shellac the drawer fronts, maybe similar to another piece of shop furniture I made some time back. Maybe some soft maple would go better with the pine. Or just some pine. Pine always looks nice.

The source of the chest project: “Early American Country Furniture” by Denis Hambucken.

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Woodworking Resolutions, 2012

It’s 2012 and I’m sure most people have their New Year’s resolutions.  I’d like to put my woodworking ones down on ‘paper’ so that I can look back and see if I kept on track and accomplished some of my goals.  But first I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that my work schedule has changed recently and so I have seen precious little time in the work shop.  To get a release out, I’ve been working closer to the hours of the home office, which is in California.  So a late start and a late finish.  I tended to do work in the evenings after work.

-build a Nicolson-style English bench.  My bench predicament has become untenable and really cuts down on the fun factor as I find some new fangled way to do something that ought to be fairly simple.

-build a treadle or spring pole lathe.  I am leaning towards a treadle lathe.  This might be a bit much for me this year, we’ll see.

-build a bathroom cabinet for my house.  I’ll have to research this one as I’d like to build something that might be somewhat ‘period correct’.  My house was built in 1850 and is a folk Greek Revival.  ‘Folk’ in that it has the forward facing gable, pediment, and low-pitched roof, but any other typical period embellishments–columns, pilasters, statues of Athena (kidding)–are not present, or were removed.  Well except for some remnant pilasters on either side of the door.  Also I decided to paint it with more ‘tropical’ colors, or at least closer to Victorian.  The front-door overhang seems to be Victorian as well, with the acorns and scroll work.  I’ll probably paint the cabinet white, but maybe add some window lights and possibly try to find a local glass blower to make the old style blown glass windows.  “I’ll take a plate glass, no I want leaded glass.  No, I want blown glass with the pontil mark…”.  You’ll get some OSB and like it!

-build at least one re-creation of a piece of fine furniture, maybe the joined stool when that book comes out.

-enter the TDPRI telecaster build contest again, though this time I’m thinking I’ll do as much hand-work as possible.  I might need to sneak in some bandsaw time, but everything else can be done with my assortment of hand tools.  Well and my soldering iron.

-remove all plastic-esque handles from my chisels and replace them with some nice, turned handles.  Or perhaps some octagonal handles so they don’t roll off the bench.  I’d consider using some of my red oak stash but those would probably turn into pretzel handles.  Maybe some ash from the bench build.

-turn some natural edged bowls.  My first attempt already started cracking.  It was looking pretty cool though.  Turned red oak isn’t as hideous as people think.

-improve my spindle turning, which I’ve been working on since my class.

-complete my Christmas gifts before Christmas this year (!).  And don’t glue the pen blank to the mandrel.

-tune up my wood bench planes so they work.  Some will need some mouth tightening, some need something else, I’m not sure what.  Glad I don’t have to do this for a living, I’d be starving.

-organize my shop (completing a few projects would help, like the tool chest)

-take a class or two from a world renowned teacher.  Or that Schwarz fellow.

-survive the Mayan apocalypse.  Maybe go down Dec 20th and kick Kulkulkan in the kulkulknutz.

What are your woodworking resolutions?

TCD’s Toolchest, sketchup

Some quick modelling with sketchup, and I think I have a working model/idea for my project. Nothing earth-shattering here, it is a meld of some of ATC’s ideas, along with a typical six-board box that Mike Dunbar made for FWW (I believe it is available as a free download). Rabbets and cut nails, along with milk paint and hide glue. Oh and wood of course. One planned till (not shown), plus some room for saws, planes, etc.