Word of advice; don't start something, get it to the point of being useable but not quite done, and start using it. If you do, it's very easy to keep using said project in it's unfinished but useable state for months. Or longer. I fell into this trap with my tool chest. If you follow this blog, you may remember that one of the reasons that I built this chest was to have a way to transport my tools to Pittsboro, North Carolina and my class at the Woodwright's School last May. The chest served it's purpose well on it's trip south and back but once back in my shop, I continued to use it in it's unfinished state until I finally made the decision a few weeks ago to get off my duff and get it finished.
Basically all that was lacking was a lip for the top, an applied batten to team with the lid to create a dust seal, and a skirt moulding at the base of the chest. The lip for the top consist of three pieces of poplar, a front and two sides, dovetailed at the corners and then just glued and nailed on to the edge of the chest lid. The upper batten I made of red oak, mainly just for contrast. This wraps all the way around the chest and is chamfered on the underside, dovetailed at the corners, and has a 3/16" bead around the top on the front and sides. I attached this with straight slot flat head wood screws from the inside of the chest.
To give the chest a touch more height and to keep the floor of the chest from sitting directly on the concrete, I attached two battens, ran from front to back, to the underside of the chest bottom. The base skirt is also red oak, through dovetailed at the corners with a mitered pin on top. The skirt was then chamfered all the way around. I attached this with wood screws by carving pocket holes into the bottom of the chest carcase sides and screwing into the skirt. I did it this way to avoid any exposed fasteners or fastener holes on the outside of the skirt. I also left the skirt up about a strong 32nd so the battens are carrying the weight of the chest rather than the skirt. This also avoids the chance of the skirt chipping if I slide the chest across the floor.
All the poplar parts of the chest were painted with two coats of barn red powdered milk paint and then, for a little protection, a few coats of danish oil finish. The oak parts were just finished with the danish oil. I was a little concerned whether I would like the paint/oak combination but I'm pretty pleased with the look. I also put some danish oil on the inside of the chest.
This is by far my biggest and most involved hand tools only project. Well, I did use an electric sander before applying the finishes, but other than that, all hand tools. I'm very happy with the way it turned out. My wife likes it too. So much so that now my next project is to be a blanket chest of similar design, only larger, for the foot of our bed. Well, I may try to fit a little saw making and chisel making in there somewhere too. Wow, I really need to be retired from my day job to get all this hobby work done. ;)
Sunday, October 16, 2011
I saw some pictures of a few other benches on line that had this feature added to them and I liked it, so I thought I'd treat my Nicholson to one. So far, it's been a nice addition. It's purpose is not a permanent storage spot for tools, but rather a place to temporarily store tools that are going to be frequently used for the project at hand. That's why, other than the few spots on the left made for chisel storage, the slots are left open with no individual slots for specific tools, because the tools stored here will change based on the project. The obvious benefit is that it helps keep your bench free of tools on the work surface and eliminates the chance for a chisel to roll of the bench top.
I've never used a bench with a tool well but I've heard the major complaint about them is that they are a place for shavings and miscellaneous junk to gather. This rack seems to have the tool well's advantage of keeping tools close at hand without the disadvantage of inviting unwanted junk to gather.
I just used some SYP left over from the bench build for the rack. The slots were laid out to the widths I wanted, marked the depth, sawed to the depth line every inch or so with a crosscut backsaw, and then the waste was chiseled out. A little work with the paring chisel to somewhat smooth things out and it's ready to mount on the back of the bench. I just used 1/4" lag bolts from the home center to attach it. Eventually, I'd like to replace these with square headed lags, strictly for aesthetics.