Monday, May 10, 2010

Walnut Blanket Chest Part 2

     There is something to be said for prepping materials for a project.  I think that when I first started working, I never paid it much mind.  It was another step in the process of completing a piece.  After you have a few projects under your belt you start to ask yourself why the joinery did not work, the finish gave you problems, or you could not get all the gaps to close in glue-up.  I will wager 90% of the time you have already lost the battle before the war has begun, just in the way you prepared all your materials.

    Well this blanket chest has been an exercise in taking my time with the materials.  The parts in the chest are made from 2 board glue-ups.  Most of the parts are 16-20" wide and were prepared using a mix of hand and power tools.  The stock came in as 4/4 rough, hand planed on one side and run through a planer.  Once planed to thickness, I used a handplane to edge joint the boards with a slight spring for a tight seam.  Even with all these precautions, I still had many parts with a good amount of cupping.  I guess I cut it too thin, trying to dress 4/4 boards rough out to 3/4.  Next time I would chose 5/4, it is just too close a call if the stock is not mostly flat.  With that said, you make do and if that means having to rip stock apart and re-glue it than so be it.

In large casework I like to start with the sides, because they handle much of the joinery and give you a good reference for all the other pieces.  These side members have a stopped cut on one end and an arched cut out on the bottom for the piece.   The stopped cut provides a place for front of the chest to fit, mating with the rabbet of the front.

Using the tablesaw, I laid a piece of tape to show where the blade exited so that I knew where to stop.

With this kind of cut, there is a fair amount of clean up to do, but its actually quite enjoyable and easily done.

With the stopped cut done, I ran the dado for the bottom in each side, and moved on to the half-circle for the feet.  Now I have a steady hand and could have cut the pattern out by hand using a jig saw, but opted for a more repeatable method. I cut a piece of ply to the same width as the side panel, laid out the circle and cut it once by hand with the jigsaw as precisely as I could.  Using this pattern I rough cut the panels and finished the cut using a flush trim bit in the router table.

more to come...

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Walnut Blanket Chest Part 1

            Whenever I get asked what I do, I respond that I am woodworker.  What follows is usually a mix of confusion, appreciation, and curiosity.  Once the curiosity has settled, people will generally talk about their experience with furniture or other woodworkers.The experience never loses its charm and I find people's interest in the craft inspiring.  I was having a similar conversation with a couple recently settling into Brooklyn, when they mentioned a desire for a chest to store linens.

I surveyed a few blanket chest designs and presented them with 2 options, and here is what we agreed upon:

For those SU inclined folks the model can be viewed and downloaded here:

along with the option that was not chosen: (better sharpen your chisels and put your "big boy" pants on for this one)

I would love to here any feedback on the models, especially if someone decides to build from them.

The design is based on a fantastic article from finewoodworking, as a handtool exercise project (Issue #134, p. 48)

This is a classic 18th century six-board blanket chest design.  The client has requested a dark tone, and I believe walnut will fit the bill.  A simple oil and varnish finish for the exterior with a shellac interior.