Popular Woodworking has been running a series of articles called “I Can Do That”, the premise being that with some simple tools anyone can make these projects. I think it’s a great idea, although most of the projects don’t interest me personally.
However the I Can Do That: Gent’s Chest from the December 2011 issue of Popular Woodworking magazine caught my eye. It has a bit of a retro look that appeals, and it looked like something I could knock out in an afternoon. I’m also putting together a small kit of tools for my son for Christmas and this seems like a great addition. So let’s get started.
The materials are pretty simple:
- Pine 1″ x 8″, at least 6′ long
- Pine 1″ x 10″, at least 6′ long
- Pine corner molding
- Pair of small brass hinges
- 4D Finishing nails
I started by cutting four pieces from the 1″ x 8″, two at 18″ and two at 7.25″. I’m using an inexpensive ($30) pull saw made by Vaughn from the local big box store. Surprisingly, it makes a clean, straight cut with a little care. Keep the angle of the saw low, use a light touch and be careful not to twist the blade. It’s at least twice as good as my $12 Ace Hardware back saw, but that’s not saying much. A little beeswax on the sides of the saw helps it work more smoothly.
After cutting to length I shot the ends of the boards to make sure they were square, and that the pairs of sides were exactly the same length. The pine boards are not what I (or any person with at least one of their five senses intact) would call straight or square from the store. The two edges aren’t parallel, they have twists and cups, and for this project I decided I didn’t care. I shot the ends square to one edge and called it good enough. The plans call for hiding the nailed butt joints under corner molding anyway. And yes that is my late-model Stanley #5 being pressed into service. I lapped the sole, filed the frog flat and fitted a Hock iron and breaker. It’s now officially marginal.
I nailed and glued the front and back to the two sides and checked that the “joints” were square. Then I had to rip a small strip to serve as the battens to support the bottom of the chest, which is nailed to the top of these.
And glued them to the inside bottom of the box:
The bottom and lid were cut to length, slightly oversized, and planed to the correct length and width. The corner molding joints were laid out with an angle square and cut slightly long using the same pull saw, then adjusted on my disk sander to get the angle and length just right. I need to make another shooting board to be able to shoot 25 degree miters!
After the bottom was nailed in, and the trim glued and nailed in place we have a mostly-finished tool box. I need to sand it, fit the hinges and apply some finish this morning. I’m still debating about whether to include the faux raised panel element on the top. I think I have about 2 hours into this project so far. I think it’s going to serve, but there are some klunky bits I don’t care for. First, nailing the bottom on top of the battens gives up too much space. It could be screwed to the bottom of the box and you would gain another 1.5″ of depth. I cut a rebate on the two long sides of the bottom piece to eliminate some of this loss, but I would do it differently next time. Also the trim is a little weird. The joints between the vertical and horizontal trim are going to look a little sloppy because the edge of the trim is rounded — so you have a square cut end butting against a rounded edge. Also, the trim when viewed from the back looks incomplete.
I’ll finish it according to Megan Fitzpatrick’s instructions and then review the end result.