Spicing up your build
The chest is pretty plain Jane as far as designs go. To spice it up, I used a few techniques that others around the Net have turned to.
Bead details break up monolithic panels. To make the fall-front door stand out, I used my 3/8” side-bead plane to put a bead on the panels adjacent to it.
The chest’s back panel also got the beading treatment. It consists of three panels joined via tongue and groove joints. The bead detail helps disguise uneven edge joints.
To break up the boredom of the as-is lid, I did a couple of things. First, I used breadboard ends. In addition to visual interest, this added strength to the lid, obviating the need for battens to keep it flat. I hope. Second, I used a round-over bit set to also add 1/8” deep rabbet along three edges. I really like how this came out.
Finally, I made my own handles. For these, I mimicked the pattern that Schwarz did on his large chest.
I didn’t do this because I worship the guy, or want to be just like him. But rather, I recognize that he’s a woodworking master and I believe that I can learn a hell of a lot by modeling his practices and design elements. And that’s in fact the case here. It was a fun intellectual challenge to reverse-engineer his design. I particularly like the small rabbet along the edges of the handles. That adds a lot of visual interest to them in my opinion.
Once loaded, the chest will weight over 100 pounds. So I used some 4/4 hard maple I had lying around along with ¾” oak dowels for the handle portion.
After measuring my hand, determining desired clearances from the side of the chest and tweaking for what “looked right” I came up with these handle dimensions. 1” thick x 4” long x 2 ½” high. I allowed ½” of “space” minimum all around each dowel to prevent the dowel from tearing out. I drilled a stopped hole ½” deep by ¾” wide to accept the ends of the dowel. The dowel handle is 5 ¼” long.
I chose to use bolts to affix the handle assemblies fearing that screws would eventually tear out. I centered the handle assemblies, marked them and drilled holes. Then I countersunk the inside holes to accept the washer/lockwasher/nut assemblies. After snugging them down they hold firmly.
To make the chest very mobile I added 3” casters. For those of you that prefer to do things the easy way, I suggest that you do what I did and drill and countersink the caster mounting holes in the bottom before gluing it to the sides.
Now, had I attached the casters directly to the bottom, the caster bolt ends would have protruded above the bottom shelf and scratched every tool housed there. To prevent this, I used the bottom skids as the “base” for the casters, and selected some oak stock for strength. That put the caster bolts shy of the top of the bottom shelf. That required me to countersink the bottom shelf sufficiently deep to accept, and tighten, the washers and nuts.
Keep in mind that the open lid moves the chest’s center of gravity toward the back. And by affixing my panel saws on the inside of the lid, I moved the cg back even further. Be sure to take this into account when laying out the holes for your casters. You’ll want to space them as close to the edges, and as far apart from each other, as you’re able.
I shellacked the interior to help keep my tools ship-shape once I arrive in a humid climate like the Sunshine State—that’s Florida, not South Dakota. Finishing the interior also fit my preference for clean storage. Otherwise it would have accumulated dirt and grime over time.
One pint of General Finishes Klein Blue milk paint from Woodcraft was plenty to give the exterior two full coats. Some people put a coat of BLO or poly over that because they don’t like the flat look of the paint. I, however do like the flat look so I didn’t bother with a clear coat.
Now that you’ve seasoned your build with some interesting eye candy, it’s time to deck out the interior to house your precious tools.
In my remaining posts in this series, I’ll give you all the details I didn’t have when I finished my chest. Those, plus oodles of pictures and diagrams should make it easy, peasy for you to finish your chest.
© 2014, Brad Chittim, all rights reserved.