Welcome! Forums Project Series Blanket Chest My Blanket Chest Build

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    harry wheeler

    The project is complete and I thought I would spend a couple of minutes talking about some of the things I learned as I went through it. Most important to note is that the chest goes together exactly as Paul described. Most of the issues I had were self-inflected, starting with the grooves in the legs. My plow plane is a Stanley 45 and I have used it often, but in this particular case, I decided to utilize the “fine adjuster” on the fence and that turned out to be a mistake. A couple of grooves into the mission, it moved slightly and one of the leg grooves ended up inset about 1/16” too much. That just won’t work if you want to end up square. The outside surface of the rail has to intersect the corner of the leg exactly or it will show as a lip. If the difference had been slight I could have simply taken a few swipes with the plane to correct it but I ended up remaking that leg so be careful with your plow plane and make sure it hasn’t readjusted itself.

    The balance of the carcass went together perfectly but when it came time to do a full test assembly, I realized that my shop ceiling height might become an issue. My garage has an 8’-0” ceiling and if I had tried to do the second half of the glue-up on my 38” bench (which has a florescent light fixture above it), I was going to run out of room to insert the panel. I have a folding table that I pull out for painting/finishing and such and I positioned that so there were no light fixtures above it and that worked fine. Just keep that in mind if you’re in a restricted space. I seriously considered gluing up the front and back of the carcass first instead of the ends like Paul did which would also have solved the problem and if I make another one, I think I’ll do that.

    When it came time to hinge the lid, I tried something different. Since the lid overhangs the rear of the carcass, you can position the carcass on it’s back surface and lay it on top of the lid. That won’t work if the lid is flush with the back of the carcass unless you elevate the carcass, but in this case, it works great. I simply marked the position of the carcass on the under side of the lid, then mortised the hinges into the carcass and laid it down in position on the lid and marked the hinge locations. That avoided the need to hold the lid in position so if you’re working alone, you might want to try that approach. Also be very careful after you mount the lid. Until the lid stay is attached, it would be very easy to damage the lid or the carcass (or both) if the lid is opened too far.

    I made very few changes to Paul’s design and what I did change was basically cosmetic. Technique wise, when I started on the lid, I fully intended to use Paul’s method for the tenons, but I have a single router plane and the method Paul used needs two routers. I thought about the poor-man’s router to get close to depth and even tried that on the first tenon but it was just too much fiddle for me so I reverted to the single router method and accepted the fact that the surfaces of the rails and stiles might not be perfectly aligned. The #4 smoother fixed that in no time.

    So that’s it. I really enjoyed the project – thanks Paul!


    David B

    It looks great, Harry! What did you finish with? This is a project I’d love to tackle but I’m not quite there yet…my wife wants me to make one for each of our children so it’s a lot to think about!

    Out of curiosity, what kind of wood did you use and what would you estimate the total cost of materials was (including hardware)?

    Nice work.

    harry wheeler

    Thanks David! It looks a little intimidating at first but it’s a great design and pretty easy to build. I used hard maple for the carcass and for the lid frame and I used birdseye maple for the lid panel. I had a little hard maple left and I went ahead and made a solid bottom panel out of that. Paul used a hardwood plywood on his which I would have done too, but I already had the maple, so why not. I used an oil based gel stain by General Finishes called brown mahogany and put a few coats of GF oil based poly on for the final coats. I’ve never had much luck with maple and penetrating stain – it always ends up too blotchy but the gel works pretty well and if you mess around with it you can get sort of an antique effect.

    I think altogether I have about $175 in the wood and another $65 in the hinges and lid stay, but that’s mainly because I bought $50 Brusso hinges. You can easily get good solid brass ones for half that at Woodcraft and elsewhere. I already had the finish materials. I’ll add that if I ever do another one, I think I might look for some figured wood like quilted or curly maple or maybe just do it out of a darker wood like mahogany or walnut and avoid the stain altogether. I think one done in aromatic cedar would be super. So thanks again for the kind words!




    Mic van Reijen

    Well done, looks awesome. Also well done on not trying to get the botched leg to fit but scrap it and start again. I’m in that situation where i should redo a leg of a bench because the mortise is on the wrong side of a little off. Might improvise my way out of it as I’m out of 3 by 3.

    Also I see you have a nice workshop there. The space issue you mention in hight I have in all directions. Working in a small cellar where I can stand between the beams only (so yes, I bump my head at least once every time I’m there) and the other dimensions aren’t a whole lot better. So improvising is what I do best 🙂



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