Friday, March 15, 2013

Best Feeling Blanket Chest Build Ever!

What do you get the couple that has their entire future to look forward to?

  In the back of my mind during most of my woodworking is the idea of building something that I can gift, where the recipient is proud to own and show it off.  It was this thought that gave me the idea to build my youngest brother and his fiancĂ©e a blank chest of the same design as my previous build

They say repetition is the master teacher, so I figured building the same blanket chest a second time would turn out an even better product in less time.  I was half right.  My end result was a much higher quality piece, but for some reason it took much, much longer to complete with a lot more frustration.  I ran into several situations that I did not the first go round.  It made me wonder,was the first one beginners luck?

Nothing a chisel and Thor's hammer can't fix!
  There were multiple small issues I ran into, but two major ones that ate up a ton of my time.  First off was that I bought half of my lumber at one big box store, and the other half at another(read more here.)  Since I do not have a planer or joiner(YET) most of my lumber is bought already planed to thickness and proper width.  However after assembling the front and back of the chest, then using the lumber purchased at another store I found out that they were different widths and thickness.  While the difference was not much at all, with this design it created major issues. 

Beginners tip, check to see it is actually
at the angle it reads it is.

  My second and most madding issue came when I was building the base for the chest.  After looking at a lot projects on Lumber Jocks I figured a couple of mitered keys in each corner would look great. 

  So you are thinking I bet they would,  whats the problem?  Well there was no problem with my splines except for the fact I forgot to actually dry fit all the pieces of the base and see if they fit together because I was so focused on trying out a new idea.
**Beginners Tip**
Do not get so focused on one small aspect of a build that you lose sight of where you are in the big picture!
  So after spending all the time to miter, bevel, and cut the miter keys, the base would not form a rectangle.  I am proud to say that the pieces of the first base were used to smoke a brisket my neighbor cooked. 
   After purchasing more wood I cut some more miters but was still unable to get them to form tight 90 degree miters.  It was then that I realized I had been trusting that my miter saw was dialed in exactly. 
  Between my first box build and now, I had knocked the saw out of kilter.  So instead of the 45 angle it promised it would cut, my saw was more of a 41.  Little things like this are the difference between a finished product and firewood.

Here are some upgrades to the chest from my first build.

    -  All 5 panels were hand planed for a really smooth and even surface.

My new purchase of a really old plane.
This pre 1940 plane ran circles around it's
2010 version. 

    -  Hand cut keyed miters in the base using Hard Maple splines leftover from my cutting boards.

    -  Upgraded hinges.  The last were under powered to hold up the weight of the chest lid.
 -  Hinges were set flush with the back of the
Full Yankee's idea, not mine.  However the side I cut was a much tighter fit, just saying.

    -  Grain of the wood was aligned better where possible.
    -  Improved glue up technique resulting in much less splotches due to dried glue, and better miters.  For the most part I would let the glue dry for 45 minutes and then take my card scraper to the semi dried glue that squeezed out.  Another big improvement was using this Bessy angle clamp.  However my stroke of genius was to use packing tape to set the top of my joints(most likely not a new idea.)

I was honored to be able to be a part of their wedding and hope this is something they will cherish for years to come.  So enough with all the damn words, here is the final product after being delivered to a very happy couple.
Congratulations to the newlyweds!


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