Friday, September 3, 2010

Progress on the blanket chest and a mini-shop tour

I'm building a blanket chest for some quilts based on a design by John McAlevey. I don't have a lot of experience building furniture, so I thought that to learn some skills, it would be good to follow closely hew to other people's tried and true designs for the first few projects until I have a good understanding of the principles. And I fully intended to do that. Really. I did.

As is it is my wont to do, however, I'm about halfway through the project and already "tweaking" it to fit my needs and taste. In this case, it is that the chest as McAlevey has designed is BIG. As in battleship BIG. I didn't realize this until I'd already cut out the legs and mortised them, and then took them into the bedroom and set them up approximately where they'd go as part of a finished piece.


Walu was definitely going to be bumping some toes in the middle of the night.

No matter. It was an easy trick to cut off the top mortises and re-size the height of the legs, which in turn allows me to resize the overall proportions nicely. I also decided to make my through mortises simpler than his, since I think the double mortise he has looks a little fussy.

(OK, OK. I figured the double mortise would be harder and it stressed me out to think about doing it. But I still think the double mortise looks a little fussy.)

Anyway, that done, I've now squared, flattened, and thicknessed all the rails to go with the legs:

To do this, I first re-sawed the 8/4 cherry boards in half using the band saw (to re-saw something means that you take, for example, a 2" thick board and cut in down the middle so that it becomes a couple of 1" thick boards):

Then I flattened one face on each of the boards and squared their sides using my benchtop jointer:

Then I ran everything through the thickness planer to flatten the top of each board:

I left all of the boards a little bigger than their final size, since wood will sometimes warp and twist a little after you saw it. This did in fact happen to two of the boards, and so after letting them sit for a couple of days (to let the wood twist as much as it was going to), I re-flattened and -squared them. Then I ran everything through the thickness planer again to bring it all to the final thickness.

As long as we are in this part of the shop, I thought I'd show you how I've got my bench area set up. The new bench is situated beneath my favorite window, with a shelf for commonly used tools easily within reach:

Also within easy reach are the small bits bins cabinet and HD radio (so I can listen to NPR talk radio to my heart's content):

And the hand tools/measuring tools cabinet, which has a rolling cabinet below it with small,  often-used power tools, such as pneumatic nailers, a jig saw, random orbit sander, etc.:

In case you were wondering what happened to my old and trusty bench, I've moved it a few feet south to another bank of windows, and turned it into a router table:

The fence, which is shop made (homemade), is easily removable. The bolts that hold it in place drop down into countersinks:

and then the whole thing becomes a glue-up/assembly bench (wouldn't want to get messy glue all over my nice bench, you know):

Next on the agenda: gluing up the maple panels. Bring on the Labor Day weekend!


  1. I am soooooooooooo impressed I can hardly stand it. If you didn't live so far away I would be a constant pest wanting to see everything you are doing, feel all that beautiful wood, ask a gazillion questions. You need to be glad - very glad - that I do not live close enough to do this. :-D LOL

  2. You have a shop that is to die for! I'm impressed. "A place for everything and everything in it's place"

  3. Wow! Your shop looks great! I am so impressed!


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