Mucking about

So no major new projects taken on yet, I’ve been tidying away some new toys and getting the shed back to a working state instead. For example…

I now have two pairs of hollows and rounds (4’s and 6’s) as well as a 7 hollow, the reeding plane and a spare 6 hollow. According to Mouldings in Practice that’s all I need to start off with for the scale of stuff I build. A pair of 2s and 8s would be the next on the list if this works out. I don’t like this storage solution though; you don’t really want to have a moulding plane tip over and fall on your head from two feet up. I’ll build a rack for them seperately later .

I also wanted to increase the final grit of my sharpening setup (before the strop), and while waterstones seemed the obvious choice, they’re messy as all get-out. Also, the way I work I don’t have a huge amount of time in the shed so waterstones that you don’t have to soak for 15 minutes before sharpening would be mandatory (whether that be solved by storing them in water or having the shapton type that you can just squirt water onto and get going), and those are not that cheap. But if you want 20,000 grit, they’re you’re only real choice.

Thing is, okay, I do have a japanese chisel or two but most of my work isn’t done with A2 or PM-V11 steel or anything that esoteric, so waterstones aren’t really mandatory; and diamond plates will go up to 8000 grit if you buy from DMT. Okay, the 8000 grit one isn’t cheap, it’s nearly ninety quid, but the things last for a decade and they’re very low fuss, so I cried once and bought one.

Swapped out the 1200 grit Ultex and in went the 8000 grit DMT. The Ultex went into just-in-case storage. I’ve only sharpened the new japanese chisel on the DMT so far (it’s been a quiet week) but for such a fine grit, it visibly cuts quite surprisingly well.

Speaking of sharpening, I needed something for the inside of the gouges, so some black arkansas slipstones got bought along with the DMT. Seem nice enough, and not too expensive. Not used yet though….

And I got some 1-2-3 blocks. I’ve been meaning to get some for a year or so now. For woodworking they’re not as useful as they would be to a machinist, but not having to measure off 1, 2 or 3 inches, being able to set up the bandsaw or fences with right angles, clamping odd things, they’ll be bloody handy for that I suspect. Need to put a mount on the wall for them (I suspect a pair of dowels in the nonthreaded holes will suffice). Pain in the fundament cleaning all the storage grease off them though, but when you do, they’re nice and shiny…

This radius cutter isn’t new, I’ve had it for 18 months or so but I haven’t used it (look, life gets complicated sometimes, okay? 😀 ). I finally got to watch the line-and-berry video this week and dug this out, I have an idea for a project I want to use it on. More to come but I need to make a tool or two first…

One tool down, another to go yet. I also need to find a source for 1/32nd holly veneer, which in Ireland seems more difficult than expected.

Wanted to finish this up as it was sitting around (it’s planned to be a salt box). It’s a bit… drab as is though. If only I had something to jazz it up a bit…


Well, that was… intense. Left it overnight, sanded lightly to knock back grain and re-stained it today and gave it a coat of spray laquer.

It’s not terrible, but it’s a bit more blotchy than I was hoping for. Hmmm….

Also, I had another bandsaw box waiting to get a hinge and get finished so I wrapped that up as well but with just a coat of BLO…

I have no idea what it’s for by the way, I just wanted to use up a scrap and play with making a brass hinge (learned I can’t really do it in my shed unfortunately, I’d need a proper anvil I think. Oh well).

I’m almost done with the last of the tidying up at this point. Just need to sort out this guy and that’s the last big task I think. There are other things, magnetic rails and move some tools about and other small stuff, but this one’s the awkward one I think…

Cleaning down

So it’s the usual post-project loss of traction time; I do still have a few half-finished projects to be getting on with, but I thought I’d take a little time first to clean down after the chest, given that it’s left things a tad messy (especially given the pace of work on stuff leading up to xmas). The shed’s a mess, to be honest:


Buying a small bunch of things over the weekend didn’t help, but I was out of Osmo 1101 after the baby blanket chest and having corner mending braces is always useful for shop jigs and the like.

It’ll take a while to get this done; partly the problem is down to putting a litre of stuff in a pint pot sized shed. There just isn’t room for everything *and* all the wood 😀 I also want to replace that blue drum on the dust collector to get some space back, and some more tools need to go up on the walls and all my paintbrushes need to be cleaned (and some may need to be thrown away as too far gone). But at least I made a small start today.



Last stretch now. Start off by cleaning up from the glue-up last night. Trim the pegs with a flush-cut saw and run a chisel over the surface until it passes the fingerprint test. Use the plastic razor blades to get any glue squeeze-out I missed last night.

Those things are remarkably useful for this by the way, particularly in hard-to-get-at spots.

Gets right in there, doesn’t mar the surface at all.

Then saw off the horns so I can see what I’m working with.

Right. Test fit that on top of the chest and centralise it, make sure I have enough room for dust seals on either side plus the width of the dust seal again, and then mark off that point as being the final width of the lid. And then, very careful sawing. I got lucky and didn’t hit any of the mortices or crack anything from the stress of sawing (clamping cauls helped enormously here). Then I paused before putting away the chest again to decide on the hinges.

I went with the black in the end. I’m not sure why, but it just seemed to match the wood more.

Then on to the lid again, and shaping the front (where it’ll be grabbed most often) to be comfortable to hold.

First time that gooseneck has come in useful for me, but it more than earned its keep tonight. I broke all the other arisses as well, and then I sawed one of my pieces of material for the dust seals in half to give me some dust seal blanks, planed them to be matching – or close to it – and shaped a curve at the front.

When I was happy they looked okay and matched, I drilled for two screws, countersunk, painted the mating surface with hide glue and screwed them into place on the lid. Then I turned to the last job, fitting the hinges.

I don’t like this job much, I’m not terribly good at it. First I attached to the chest, and then using wedges and cauls to hold the lid in the right position, attached to the lid.

And then I spent the next twenty minutes refitting and fiddling with them to get the damn lid to sit flat.
They’re enough to make you tear your hair out.

I suppose it could be worse, these hinges are definitely not 17th century pieces (or even replicas of it). Period correct hinges would be these things:

Depending on who you talk to, these are snipe hinges, gimmel hinges or something even odder-sounding. But they’re not terribly pretty on the inside of a chest when fitted:

And even Peter Follansbee can’t make them look good on the outside:

Oh well. Count your blessings I guess.


And with that last job done, that was it. Build complete.

Well. The lid needed a coat of osmo, so I did that. But that was it then, nothing to do but wait for the osmo to cure (which it’ll do in the house tonight so the panels can start drying – if they’re going to do something weird on me I’d rather they did it now instead of after I deliver the piece).

You know, it didn’t come out too bad in the end.


Even the dust seals look good.

Oh, and for those who were wondering what it was for…

A friend at work and his wife are expecting their first in the next few days. In the 17th century, chests like this were four feet wide and three feet deep (or even larger) and they held a household’s linen or blankets. Today they’re called blanket chests. But this one is a baby blanket chest; the name is a bit of a pun in both construction and intended usage. It’s sized so that you can take four to six cellular blankets from mothercare, fold them the way you’d normally fold a blanket when you’re tired and in a hurry, and they’ll drop right in here. It’s also a baby version of the full-blown blanket chest, which would never fit in my shed 😀 (There are examples of miniature chests like this from back then, so they’re not unheard of – just uncommon).

Plus, I had wanted to make a chest for a while. They’re a fun build. Might do another one during the year.

Next up however is: tidying up the shed after building this. There are shavings everywhere

Lidding up

So the last part of the build is the lid. Though if I had to do this over, I think I’d start with the lid, or at least with prepping its parts because that can set the dimensions of the rest of the parts (but in this case, I had a preset idea for what the contents of the chest would be so that dictated everything). I had a nice piece of oak for the lid but it wasn’t wide enough to act as a single-piece lid (since the lid’s not an inset door, you can do the one-piece bit if it’s not likely to warp – so quartersawn or riven stuff). So it’s frame and panel time again.

First though, need to move the chest off the workbench while I work on the lid.

And now I can take the piece of oak I have, and mark off the final thickness for the piece (in this case there was some edge damage so the thickness was set by how much planing I had to do to remove that).

The hashmarks on the edges are because the bevelled bit is the bit that’s getting removed and the hashmarks make it easy to see what progress you’re making (far more than just a line to plane to). Time to get sid out.

Nothing now but the pushing…

…cross-grain first though because there’s a lot to remove. This took about 15 minutes in total.

And done. And flattened using the #05 on the reference face – the back face is actually left pretty rough (not jagged or anything, but there are still some faint toolmarks to give character 😀 ) And then I shot both ends on the shooting board with the T5, and got out the #043 to plane a groove on the long edges of the board. The bottom of the board then got feathered up into the groove with the #05. The plan was to do the same on the endgrain as well, but the plan did not go well, cutting a groove through endgrain with the #043 is… a bit too delicate a task for me 😀 Especially under time pressure. So, we go with this… less than optimal idea. But needs must.

Now to the frame. The #043 did the grooves and its iron matches the morticing chisel more exactly so the mortices here were much easier than in the chest.

The cross-rails are much shorter than these raw pieces, but the cutoffs are due to become dust seals. Offset shoulders again for the tenons, fitted everything (with a bit of fiddling on one joint as always), then drilled for drawbores, glued up the tenons and assembled (working quickly because time’s so pressing and therefore not many photos…)


Those pegs will get trimmed tomorrow when the hide glue’s more cured, and the horns get removed then as well, though I may need to remove some of the cross rails as well, and some of the back stile because of the barrels of the hinges (not sure about that one).

Small gap, but the dust seal will be right below that so it shouldn’t matter… much….

So still another half-hour to an hour of work to do here. But that should be the end of the construction and it’s just finish after that.

And now I’m second-guessing myself. I don’t remember the colour being that off, is it just my camera playing silly buggers with white balance? And I worry about exposing the tenons on the edges as I remove material so that I get a reasonably proportional lid rather than this mini-coffee-table thing. But that might just be parallax. It might not be that bad. And if it is a bit wide, maybe a bullnose or some other profile will soften the appearance? We’ll see tomorrow.

Until then, ragged on another coat of osmo on the chest body and left the lid to finish curing.

Almost done…

So I had a 2330h callout last night after finishing in the shed and got to bed around 0100h; and then had another callout at 0430h that wrapped at 0530h and then went into work about 40 minutes later than usual because the last remaining scrap of the morning routine was blown out of the water when junior came down with a temperature (he’s caught the cold Claire and I have had for the last week). So I was a wee bit braindead for most of the day, came home early, and all three of us had an hour’s nap. After that, and another quick call for work (on-call is turning into much fun this week) and dinner, Claire and junior packed it in for the night and I headed to the shed to try to finish the chest.

Right, first order of business, those pegs need to be trimmed with flush saw and chisel.

A bit finicky in places, but mostly this was straightforward. There are still some dark lines in places where the pegs weren’t perfect, but the surfaces pass the fingertip test. With that done, the next job that had to be done in order was the floorboards.

But first, I wanted to take a minute to look at options for hinges for the lid to see if I could mortice in the hinges before finishing started.

I had gotten a few choices of hinge in the sales over xmas (and those are just the ones that would take the weight of a lid this size), but that oddly wasn’t making this much easier. I don’t like the shiny brass ones much, not on oak. They just look out of place, far too bright even against what the wood will look like when it’s finished. The bronze effect isn’t bad (and it’s definitely just an effect unless bronze sticks to magnets now), but that black effect one is I think the best match (especially as I think it’ll look blacker when I oil it). But I didn’t come to a final decision because the barrel of the hinge being where it is on those two means a cutaway at the back of the lid which is extra faffing about. Not the end of the world, but sod it, I don’t have to choose today so I’ll sleep on it. Unless work calls, of course.

Then I checked the levels of the sides against the front and back.

The top levels don’t match, they’re out by just over 2mm (all around). I suppose I could saw them down to match but there’s not a lot of point in that – the disparity will be hidden by the lid, which will have a dust seal around it. And it’d spoil the look of the carving.

The bottom levels don’t match either, they’re out by 4mm all around, but that’s useful – the front and back will hide the floorboards partially. It’s still a bit untidy though. Something to do better next time. And with that checking done, on to the floorboards. The width on them was mostly fine already, but the two outermost needed to have their excess tongue and groove removed, and had to be shaped to fit around the stiles.

Not a hard job, but time consuming because after the initial rough cut it’s a cycle of test fit and then adjust with chisels and test again until you’re sick of it 😀 And you can’t just hack it out or there’d be a great big gap inside the box letting you look down at the floor. Next time, I do the grooved side/front rails and narrower back rail with floorboards running front to back and nailed into the back rail, it’d be less work.  But eventually, they were fitting well enough to go with.

Next, prepping for nails – I’m going to use the Dictum cut nails for this, get that nice medieval-ish look in there even if it’s hidden away a bit. But the last thing I want at this point is splitting.

I was worried that the smallest drill bit I had in that index wasn’t small enough and the nails wouldn’t have any meat to grab onto, so I tried using my pin vice to hold a smaller drill bit and hammered some nails into a test piece.

Seemed to work well enough in cedar (but that collet was useless, I just put the 2mm bit in the chuck and the bosch held it just fine). But when I went to hammer in the first nail, there was so much resistance when the nail went from cedar to oak that I was worried the pilot hole wasn’t big enough to prevent splitting so I redrilled the oak hole with a larger bit and did that for all the other nails (2mm in cedar, then widen to 3mm in the oak, then nail the floorboard in place). The first board, the back one, also got glued to the back rail because why not. That edge is the only secured edge for that board and glue’s cheap (and it won’t be expanding across that joint, just away from it).

Might not be the best job in the world (that cedar really does look a bit too thick to me now, plus it’s western red cedar, and I thought it was cedar of lebanon when I bought it – doh 😀 ). But it’ll do.

And with the floorboards in place, the next thing is to cut the bottom horns off and to cut the legs to length and eliminate the small amount of rocking the chest has at the moment (it’s square to within 1mm corner-to-corner, but the legs are uneven by 3-4mm or so).

I keep a sheet of thickish MDF in the shed for this task (I don’t like to make stuff from it, but it’s handy when you need a really flat surface and aren’t going to load that surface). I put the chest on it, let it balance itself (two legs up in the air at this point by different amounts), and wedged them carefully, checking that the stiles were vertical when wedged (you don’t want to just shove the wedge in under one leg and wind up cutting the legs so the chest sits nice and stably at a cant). Then I picked out a piece of wood of suitable size and used it as a reference to mark off where to cut the legs to get them even; and then out with the ryoba and crosscut across the knife lines carefully. Hold your breath and put it back on its feet on the bench…

And phew. No rocking. Got it the first time, nice and solid. Well, next up is just removing the top horns. Already have pencilled in the lines, so away I cut with the ryoba…

Not bad. I went over it one last time with an eraser to remove any pencil marks and generally just tidy things up…

And out with the chisel and just chamfer the new sharp edges, make sure there’s no arises to hurt hands or anything, and did a fingertip check over the whole surface to see if there was any last little thing to take care of.

And that’s now ready for finishing.

I went over the edges and corners with some 240 grit sandpaper just to soften them a bit, and in some of the groove lines in the carving to clear out any last fuzzy bits, and the inside corners of the chest as well. Then I laid down some parchment paper (I’m not being prissy, but I have a lid yet to build so not dousing the bench in finish would be useful), decanted the last of my Osmo (Hmmm. Need more. Not sure where to get it fast enough. I may need to switch brands of hard wax oil which is never a good idea) and donned some nitrile gloves (because I have about fifty cuts in my fingers at the moment thanks to the #778).

First coat will be heavy and brushed on, left for 15 minutes and then the excess ragged off.

Nice. And now back inside for a cup of tea, and 15 minutes later I came back out and ragged off the excess, and it’ll cure overnight.

Gotta say, it doesn’t look too bad.

The project’s not done yet – I need to make a lid and install hinges yet. But still. Look! Pretty! 😀

And I do like how the carving draws the eye away from the imperfections in joinery and alignment 😀


  • Rip out lid frame parts
  • Groove lid frame parts
  • Cut lid frame M&T joints and drill for drawboring
  • Measure out lid panel size
  • Groove lid panel
  • Shape lid panel
  • Cut box tenons and drill M&T joints for drawboring
  • Groove bottom box rails for floorboards
  • Crosscut floorboards to width
  • Plane panels
  • Cut panels to final size
  • Bevel or rebate panel edges to fit grooves in rails
  • Plane away inside corner on stiles
  • Cut edge floorboards to fit around stiles
  • Clean up drawbore pegs and any missed glue squeezeout
  • Saw off top horns
  • Plane top of chest so all four sides are exactly level
  • When floorboards are fitted, stand chest on legs on a flat surface and mark off base of legs to eliminate any wobble
  • Cut legs to size
  • Shape legs
  • Assembly
  • Hinges
  • Finishing with Osmo (three coats at least)

My left or your left?

Getting close now. Started today by cleaning up the inlaid peg in the front rail.

I’ll just trim down the front side while I think about what to do with it, since it’s a central decorative feature.

And now on to the main job, the panels. The panels were mostly flat and close to size already so it was mostly detail work and fettling and finishing.

Doesn’t look terrible. For each of the frames, I assembled two of the rails into a stile and got the measurements for the panel from that.

Mark it off with the panel gauge and rip to width with the ryoba and plane to a smooth edge (I’d already planed the reference edge and shot both ends on the shooting board with the T5). Then plane a bevel on the back side of the panel with the #05 on both sides and one end. Test fit in the frame and then mark off the length; cross-cut with the other side of the ryoba and plane a bevel on the remaining end (carefully to avoid spelching the finished edges). Then test fit in the assembled panel and make sure it’s a snug fit but with just a little wiggle in both directions – and by just a little I mean if I shove it, it shift less than half a millimeter in any direction, but it does shift so it’s free-floating.

The panel is oak like the rest of the chest, so according to the hardwood databook, I can expect 2.5% shrinkage going from the shed’s humidity to indoors; that translates to about a tenth of an inch of shrinkage across the width of the panel and the grooves are a quarter inch deep so they should hold. But I don’t want it so tight that any increase in humidity causes the panel to destroy itself. In the end I got the fit I wanted on all the panels though it was a bit of a faff with one of the side panels to get the angle of the bevel right.

And a dry fit of all the frames:

I didn’t think it looked too bad and then I looked at the side.

What the… the pattern isn’t flowing the way it’s meant to.

Some head-scratching ensued and I finally figured that at some point while doing the drawboring I managed to do the stage-left/audience-left confusion thing, only with chest-left/my-left. I’d swapped the sides. Worse, I’d drilled the drawbores that way. I must have been tired, given that I also managed to drill the drawbore pin holes on different sides of the centerline for half the rails. Oh well, they’ll still work. However I now had to redrill the drawbore holes on half the rails. Yeesh. Still, there won’t be too much stress on this piece and the glue and floorboards will add to the strength. It should be fine.

Besides, I couldn’t leave the pattern broken, it’d give me a headache. So I swapped the sides and redrilled drawbore holes.

Worth the effort, now the pattern flows around the chest as intended. Two jobs left now before assembly of the carcass. First off, what to do about that central element in the top front rail. I tried to carve it over but endgrain in sapele is uncooperative so I just cut it flush, chamfered the edge slightly and punched a flower into it.

Should do. Last job: plane down the inside of the stiles. For this, I need some V-blocks so I made some in a hurry.

Not stable enough to plane on though, so I drilled through the bottom of the V, countersunk heavily to get the screw away from the piece and then screwed both to a backing board (one of the less twisted rejected rails):

I must remake that later, it’s too useful a jig to not have a decent version of. But for now, deadlines, so I made do and planed down the inside to pencil marks made while the box was assembled.

If those drawbore holes look asymmetrical to you, it’s because they are –  this is why having a drill press would be nice. But they’ll still work, it’s all good. It’s “character” 😀

With that job done, time to assemble the carcass, so out with some clamps and hide glue and all the other bits I’d need.

Started with the front frame.

Glue tenons, insert tenons for both rails into one stile, dip peg in glue, hammer home while listening for any cracking breaking noises (there were none, so yay!). Then slide panel into place, glue the other pair of tenons (carefully so as to avoid accidentally gluing the panel), and tap the stile home with the soft-faced deadblow hammer, then drive in the other drawbore pegs. Repeat for the back frame:

Incidentally, those brass plant misters are a handy way to have water on hand to dampen paper towels for things like glue squeezeout cleanup.

I trimmed off some of the pegs from the back side (not all, for strength, but just enough to not get in the way of the rest of the process – I’ll clean up fully later).

Now things get a little awkward; fit the four side rails into the front frame, with glue and drawbores and fit the panels.

I’ll come back and tidy up the pegs when the glue’s cured. And now for the really finicky bit – glue up all four tenons and lower the last frame into place on top of all of them at once. This is why dryfits were so important. Also, because the bottom frame is resting on the drawbore pegs right now, you can’t tap the frame home with the deadblow, you have to use the clamps to squeeze them home and then secure it with the drawbore pegs.

There’s always one…

The drawbore hole was just fouling the panel on the far side enough to stop the peg and the next hammer blow was just off-center enough to snap the peg. *sigh*

I guess cleanup’s going to be more fun that I expected. Oh well.

Final assembly of the carcass is now done, and it looks nice.

Still things to do, but I think I can get the first coat of finish on the box tomorrow night even if the lid isn’t ready or attached (I’ll want to cut the recesses for the hinges first though I think). Maybe. I’ll just be using Osmo on the box, keep it nice and simple.


  • Rip out lid frame parts
  • Groove lid frame parts
  • Cut lid frame M&T joints and drill for drawboring
  • Measure out lid panel size
  • Groove lid panel
  • Shape lid panel
  • Cut box tenons and drill M&T joints for drawboring
  • Groove bottom box rails for floorboards
  • Crosscut floorboards to width
  • Plane panels
  • Cut panels to final size
  • Bevel or rebate panel edges to fit grooves in rails
  • Plane away inside corner on stiles
  • Cut edge floorboards to fit around stiles
  • Clean up drawbore pegs and any missed glue squeezeout
  • Saw off top horns
  • Plane top of chest so all four sides are exactly level
  • When floorboards are fitted, stand chest on legs on a flat surface and mark off base of legs to eliminate any wobble
  • Cut legs to size
  • Shape legs
  • Assembly
  • Hinges
  • Finishing with Osmo (three coats at least)

Blood, gouges and drawbores

Started off the day with the noisier tasks to get them out of the way…

There’s not a lot of art here. Rive the stick to about the diameter you want, pound it through the hole with the big hammer several times, move on to smaller hole until desired size reached, sharpen slightly, continue on. And it’s noisy, so ear defenders. But, keep going and you finally have all you need minus one (because the universe hates you, there will always be a need for one more than you have).

Then on to finishing off the carving.

It’s a fairly simple design on the bottom. Mark off every inch on the two reeds I cut yesterday.

Then chop down vertically with the gouge (whose profile matches the reed pretty closely) on each spot on one reed.

Then flip the piece and chop down at each spot on the other reed, only offset a little (judge this by eye) so it looks like a kindof backwards ‘S’

Now use the gouge to cut down from just behind one gouge chop into the stop-cut created by the next gouge chop over. You’ll be gouging in different directions on the two reeds so it finally looks like this:

The top rail is something similar but with only one row of those motifs, surrounded by the two scratch stock reeds from yesterday. And I threw in a punch into the motif just to be different.


The thing about that design on the top going only one way is that you can keep track of which rail is which and have the motifs flow from a single point on the front to a single point on the back. So on the back I just cut away the foreground and stipple the background with a punch:

And on the front I had planned to have a small decorative element:

But it proved too small and fiddly and it lost all its crispness almost immediately so I scratched that idea, and drilled out the spot the central element was in:

And then made another peg from a short piece of sapele:

And glued that in place:

I’ll trim the peg down tomorrow, and I’ll have a blue-collar inlay of sorts on the front:

With that done, I went to cut a rebate on the front and back bottom rails to hide the floorboards from being immediately obvious. Only a quarter inch deep, so they won’t be totally hidden, but I can plane down the edges so they don’t stick out like a sore thumb. And then as I was tightening the thumbscrew on the #778’s fence…

Well. Shite.

A moment of panic and wondering if I could use it without the fence and then I remembered that when I bought the #778, I accidentally bought a second fence and I’d never gotten rid of it…

Sometimes hoarding pays off. A quick swap and I got back to the rebate.

Well, feck. It’s that time again, where am I leaking from now?

Ah, there we go. I blame the 778 and all its sharp bits:

I mean, you start reaching in there to pull out the shavings that are clogging the mouth and….

Feck. This is getting silly now. But I got the rebates cut, so on to the drawboring. I’m doing this with the new hand drill, mainly to see how it behaves (answer: like a power drill. Only much more solidly built than my last one).

Everything got done in batches; drill the holes in the mortices, then go through every tenon, seat it, tap the drill bit in to mark the tenon, then bradawl a point a sixteenth (or a millimeter – the distance seems to be the smallest whole unit the person talking about drawboring grew up knowing about) closer to the shoulder, then drill that hole out in the tenon; and repeat.

Last job of the evening was to roughly crosscut the panels oversize, and plane them smooth on both sides. I’ll finish plane them when I have the final dimensions. I won’t be carving them because of time.

Tomorrow I’ll start assembly; when the carcass is together I can cut and install the floorboards and start working on the lid…


  • Rip out lid frame parts
  • Groove lid frame parts
  • Cut lid frame M&T joints and drill for drawboring
  • Measure out lid panel size
  • Groove lid panel
  • Shape lid panel
  • Cut box tenons and drill M&T joints for drawboring
  • Groove bottom box rails for floorboards
  • Crosscut floorboards to width
  • Plane panels
  • Cut panels to final size
  • Bevel or rebate panel edges to fit grooves in rails
  • Plane away inside corner on stiles
  • Cut edge floorboards to fit around stiles
  • Possibly build face frame for the top of the chest
  • Assembly
  • Hinges
  • Finishing

Too many inches

Quite a bit of time in the shed today, so made some progress (there being a nearby deadline, this is a good thing). Started by cutting a side rail’s tenons, then marking off the other side rails from it (same as for the long rails).

I wanted to keep using the offset shoulder idea, but rather than gauging it by eye, which I can’t do yet, or sawing on one or the other side of the line, which I also have trouble doing, I decided to just mark out the shoulders and cut to the line. So I marked off the show face shoulder, ran the line round with the square to the back side, and then marked out 5mm or so of the line on the back side, then put a ruler on the line and butted the square up against that.

Problem is my ruler’s too thin. And it’s fiddly. And then I had an idea – I’m already holding a thin bit of metal, why not use it?

Put the knife upside down, butt the edge up to the line at that point on the back where the back of the knife starts sloping down to the point so I had a consistent thickness (the whole blade narrows down to the bevel slightly like a saw plate), butt the square up against the other side of the knife, then flip the knife over and cut the back shoulder line.

Works quite well. And that’s about as much of an offset as you need really, at least for something of this scale.

By the way, one of these makes it a lot easier to see the lines. It’s a little rechargeable camping light off ebay. Big Clive did a video on them and the internals were quite solid so I bought one.

It cranks up to quite a high brightness and if you just put it on the bench near the work you get a nice horizontal light thrown across the piece so cut lines stand out clearly. Plus, has a nice magnet in the base so I can just put it on a plane on the wall and it acts as a quick light on those short runs to the shed to grab something when I don’t want to plug in the whole shed but need light. Or it can grab onto the bandsaw frame and act as a work light when I’m using that.

Not bad for €6.40 delivered. Big Clive had a link to a generic ebay search if you want to grab one.

Anyway, got the side rails done.

That offset shoulder method is even faster when you don’t have to faff about cutting to one side of a line when you don’t have the skill for that 😀 And all the joints bar one fitted off the saw, which I was happy with.

What I was not happy with was the overall look of the piece when I put all the rails into the stiles to get a look at the final size.

That’s… it’s just not right. It’s square. I don’t understand that. First off, it looks clunky. Secondly, the design was not square, it was rectangular because it’s designed to hold something specific which is very rectangular.

Measuring tape time.

Width is fine, a quarter inch under but no biggie.

Depth is about what I estimated (well, a half-inch over). Still not seeing it. What are the internals?

Internal width is perfect…

And internal depth is… wait, what? 13 inches? That’s supposed to be 11, what the…

Ah. Shite.

If you change your initial sizes in your design, and you’re adding on a margin for the thickness of the material, you need to run the sums again and change the final size too. Feck. Well, at least this is an easy fix (too short would have been a bit more work). I want 11-and-a-quarter inches in internal depth, so if I move the shoulder on the side rails back by one-and-three-quarter inches, that should give me the size I want. So, out with the marking and measuring gear and the saw…

And I recut all of those tenons on the rails (and everything fitted off the saw this time, yay), and reassembled the chest.

I don’t know if the photo gets it across, but it looks a lot more right this time. Weird how your brain reacts to proportions.

That’ll do nicely.

At this point I took some time to practice carving…

Simple practice pattern, just some concentric circle segments to cut out with the v-tool.

It’s a physical skill, so you just need to practice. I’m getting slowly better.

Not sure if I’m at the stage where I’m comfortable carving the panels for this chest or not. I will be for the next one whenever that is, but this one… not sure. Might leave it.

Or not. Really not sure – if the design is simple enough, it might look acceptable…

But enough diversion. Quick side job now, splitting out blanks for drawbore pegs.

I can’t tell you how much better this job is thanks to that hacking knife. Compared to a chisel, it’s faster, more controllable, safer, and just all-round better. I tested one of the peg blanks by hammering it through the dowel plate down to the quarter-inch size, but just one (it’s a noisy job, better suited to earlier in the day even with the sound dampening in the shed so I’ll do it tomorrow).

Meantime, I rough-cut the floorboards to size.

They’re cedar, already tongue-and-grooved which is a nice timesaver. I haven’t decided yet whether I should just rebate them into the base or whether I should groove three rails and nail them to the fourth (which is cut narrower). Need to figure that out tomorrow.

At this point, I got out my #04 and stropped the blade and reset the cap iron and started cleaning up the rails and stiles.

And then I set up to do some of the decorative features I had in mind for the rails. First, some fences to hold the bottom rails in place.

This wasn’t great, the piece kept spinning out, so I added another fence clamped to the front as well:

This worked nicely. It’s effectively an ad-hoc sticking board, and I’m going to use my new 167-year-old reeding plane on the bottom rails. This was the point of buying it, after all. And I’ve learned I’m not that good at using the thing, though I’m starting to get the knack of it. I think I need to get some slipstones to sharpen it a bit more (the strop only sortof works) and I’m starting to think I need to go buy and read “Mouldings in Practice” because even when I finally get the iron set to take a fine cut so it doesn’t chatter, it still digs in in the last half-inch or so of the groove and I’m sure it’s something I’m doing wrong. But I got it working well enough to do the bottom four rails. Not before I discovered that I need to do some repairs though…

It is somewhat disconcerting to hit your moulding plane with your plane hammer where you’re supposed to hit it to retract the iron and have bits fall out. It’s even more fun when you go to advance the iron and don’t realise the wedge is loose. That iron can really get some distance on it when you give it a belt with a hammer when the wedge isn’t holding it in the plane. But I was able to get it back from behind the bench without any damage, so that’s allright.

Anyway, the top four rails get a different treatment, for which I needed my scratch stock.

Lee Valley. It’s a luxury I know, but it wasn’t that expensive (it was about $50 plus P&P for the stock and all of its scratch cutters) and it works very nicely once you get the hang of it and only try to do short strokes instead of long runs (you do a few of those but only at the very end when the moulding is well established, and you have to be careful even then that it doesn’t dig into the grain and dive off to one side or the other). I used it to cut a pair of beads separated by a gouge’s width on the top rails, and called it a night there. I have some work still to do on the decoration, but it requires belting a gouge with a mallet so it’ll be loud so again, I’ll wait till tomorrow for that.

Not too bad, though a little more ragged than I’d like in places even after burnishing with a handful of shavings. But it’s not done yet…

Offset shoulders

Started off with a quick check of something for Ralph who’d had a minor mishap over on Accidental Woodworker with his #044.

Ouch. Cast part weakness strikes again 🙁

For Ralph, my #044’s rods are square to the fence to within 0.05mm (my thinnest feeler gauge):

And square to the skate to the same tolerance:

And there are gaps around the rod in the fence holes. It’s hard to gauge how much by because my feeler gauges are flat and don’t cope with tight radii well, but it looks somewhere around 0.1mm.

There is a discernible line around the rod in the plane body, but no discernible gap and I can’t get even the tip of the 0.05mm feeler gauge in there.

Incidentally, I normally have the fence rods a few inches proud of the body of the plane like that because its spot on the wall sees it stay in place using both the rods and the secondary fence on the plane:

Hope that helps Ralph.

That done, I set out and marked off the lid frame parts and ripped them out with the bandsaw. It’s not that I don’t like ripsawing, it’s that it’s awkward in a confined space and for rough cuts there’s no great advantage to it. When I have floorspace enough for a sawbench, that may change. For now, a few awkward noisy moments at the bandsaw — and I do mean awkward because it means standing in an 8″x8″ square in the corner between the sander behind me, the vice to the left of me and the dust collection and power cord in front of me, feeding the work through the blade. It’s not quite dangerous, but it’s not my idea of fun either.

That done, out with the plane and clean up and true up the edges and that’s the frame parts set – I’ll crosscut to size later.

First, a quick check of my lid idea; sit the lid on a quarter-inch spacer, butt a frame part against it and take a peek at what will be the cross-section of the lid (sortof) to be sure it’s not horrible.

Eh, it’ll do I think. On to the tenons…

…with just a quick stop to go to the post office and pick up a few new toys 🙂

Some new punches for the whole 17th Century New England carving idea, and a pair of gouges that were going cheap for the same plan; and some brusso hardware that was going for a bit under quarter price. Shame Rutlands didn’t have more of those to be honest, I tried to get more but that was the last one in stock.

Mental note – when knocking punches into a thin piece of material for your reference block, don’t hit the damn thing too hard…

Oh well. On to the tenons…

Started with the long rails at the back and with the shoulder lines. Nothing special here, just come in by an inch, nick it, then use the square to mark off the shoulder line all around the piece. Then the cheek lines get set by taking the chisel I chopped the mortice with and setting the mortice gauge width with it:

Pretty standard stuff, and you’d think that you’d just line the gauge up with the inside of the groove and away you’d go…

Problem is, that doesn’t work because my mortice isn’t the same width as the groove, which is my fault; I assumed that if you have a three-eighths iron and a three-eighths chisel, they’d be the same size. Welcome to one of the quirky features of old imperial-measurements tools – there’s no guarantee that an inch chisel is an inch wide because with old chisels widths were kindof a best-effort sort of thing. When people in the last three countries in the world to not use metric (and the few others who are officially metric but use imperial overwhelmingly in common usage, like the UK) start saying stuff like “who can remember 25.4mm? 1 inch is so much easier to remember! Who makes a 25.4mm chisel?” they’re sortof forgetting that nobody ever used to make a 1 inch chisel either. They’d make almost-an-inch chisels and nobody cared (or cares now) because you set the gauges with the chisel and most of the time nobody cared if the chisel was 1 inch or 1.032 inches because you cut pieces to fit other pieces and so long as they did, the exact size of the groove or mortice didn’t matter. The only time it really causes a problem is things like this where you build things assuming that something called a 1-inch chisel is the same width as something else called a 1-inch iron and it isn’t.

So when I found my morticing chisel wasn’t the same width as the groove, I nudged the mortice up against the wall of the groove away from the face to reduce the chance of something blowing out while chopping the mortice. So now that I’m cutting the tenon, I need to shove the tenon over a bit so that the groove on the rail lines up with the groove on the stile so the panel can fit, like so:

This is obviously not ideal. Next time I build one of these, I’ll pick an iron that matches the chisel and I’ll position the groove a bit more conservatively even if that means cutting the joints and then planing the stiles and rails down to final size after the stressful bits of grooving and morticing are done. But that’s next time. This time, I marked off the cheeks and then sawed them in the vice as normal and moved on to cutting the shoulders.

First use of the japanese saw bench hook in anger (and it works well). The shoulders are cut using something Richard Maguire was talking about in his latest video series and on his blog; the face shoulder is cut right on the line, but the non-face shoulder is cut on the wrong side of the line deliberately:

This is a bit cack-handed and it’s offset too much at the back (but that doesn’t matter hugely). If done right, you’d saw the face shoulder on one side of the line and the back shoulder on the other side of the line with maybe a kerf or two of a difference between the shoulders. You get an asymmetric tenon as a result:

And now when you drive the joint home, the back side does not close up at all:

But the face side – and this is the point of this – is very tight and clean:

And because there are four of these joints in a square, when it’s all assembled and drawbored, all the joints are in tension and so they resist racking as a whole as well. Now I’ve not done a great job here (though all but one of my joints tonight fitted off the saw, which was nice), but even so I’ve got nice lines on the face sides with less effort than normal, so this technique’s a pretty useful one.

Back frame done…

And front frame done and by this point it’s 2300h so I knock off for the evening. Looking at the frames together to get an idea of what the final size will be was encouraging.

They match up well enough.

You can tell that the original sizes for rails have changed quite a bit because I had to remake them. I am wondering if that will affect the sides…

Some fettling may be required. Hm. I do have some room for that but not a huge amount. Also, I know it looks too tall and spindly but that’s because the horns (those bits marked X) haven’t been removed yet and won’t be till near the end (they strengthen the piece during construction).

Even after removing the horns on the legs, I’ll still have quite a bit of material to play with to get the overall proportions fettled.

Some of those joints are pretty decent – even the back shoulder gap is quite small if you don’t go overboard on the offset and you still get the tight face joint as a result.

However, if you do go a bit cack-handed…

Yeah, not so good. Structurally fine, but messy as a messy thing. Not entirely sure how to handle this. I might have to make a frame to go on top of the box itself to mask that off (and the lid would then hinge off that frame). Kindof like edge banding does for plywood. Not sure. I’ll see later.

First though, I have to finish the tenons tomorrow by doing the side rails.

And then there are a few more jobs…


  • Rip out lid frame parts
  • Groove lid frame parts
  • Cut lid frame M&T joints and drill for drawboring
  • Measure out lid panel size
  • Groove lid panel
  • Shape lid panel
  • Cut box tenons and drill M&T joints for drawboring
  • Groove bottom box rails for floorboards
  • Crosscut floorboards to width
  • Plane away inside corner on stiles
  • Cut edge floorboards to fit around stiles
  • Possibly build face frame for the top of the chest
  • Assembly
  • Hinges
  • Finishing



Nocturne because all day today I was Chopin’, see?

Yeah, well. It was funny in my head.

Anyway, today was mortice day.

That’s my normal way of cutting mortices. The piece is over (or close to) the vice leg (which is thicker than the other workbench legs for just this kind of reason), rather than held in the vice because that way you don’t have to crank on the vice until the steel creaks so your piece doesn’t slip while you’re wailing on it. The holdfast method is just better, faster, and causes less hassle. The clamp and other pieces of wood only come out when the mortice is close enough to the edge that I worry about blowout; and really I’d like to get one of those traditional dual screw woodworking clamps to use instead.

The idea would be to clamp around the piece so the clamp’s on either side of the mortice and then holdfast down either the piece or the clamp. Bit more convenient. But I haven’t found one for sane money yet. Oh well, no rush, the current approach I’m using works fine. Four three-eighths mortices per leg, just under three-quarters of an inch deep and inevitably there’ll be some breakthrough between the bases of pairs of mortices but that’s okay (the tenons will have chamfered ends and I can cut them a hair short if needed), so sixteen shallowish mortices but close to the edge of the pieces, so you can’t just wallop away without thinking.

Also, I’m loving the morticing chisels. They’re almost overkill on mortices this small but they’re so much easier to keep from twisting and so much more controllable.

Anyway, it took me just over two hours in three sessions today to get it all done.

And no blowout, no accidental through-mortices, everything’s fine. And I remembered to leave the horns on the stiles this time to prevent blowing out at the top of the pieces, so yay.

Tomorrow, I start on cutting haunched tenons, and if I get enough done I might drill the drawboring holes and start on making pegs.

I didn’t get to the lid parts today. I might mark out and rip those out tomorrow first, use the bandsaw over lunch when it won’t bother anyone.


  • Rip out lid frame parts
  • Groove lid frame parts
  • Cut lid frame M&T joints and drill for drawboring
  • Measure out lid panel size
  • Groove lid panel
  • Shape lid panel
  • Cut box tenons and drill M&T joints for drawboring
  • Groove bottom box rails for floorboards
  • Crosscut floorboards to width
  • Plane away inside corner on stiles
  • Cut edge floorboards to fit around stiles
  • Assembly
  • Hinges
  • Finishing

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