Friday, July 12, 2013: Today was a very busy day, and it started by making the second raised panel for my lid. We had a few different methods demonstrated to us yesterday, so I decided to try those variations. The all worked equally well, each with its advantages, but in the end, all creating a very nice raised panel. I was so into making the panels that I forgot I wanted to do a different design on the interior.
One of Paul’s lids had raised panels on the inside; the other was a flat panel with a reveal of 3/16” all the way around. The reveal is made by using a marking gauge to define it; a tennon saw to cut the walls to depth, then removing a bulk of the waste with a chisel, and finally a router plane across the bottom.
Once the panel was complete, I dry fit and rehearsed the lid assembly. Everything looked nice so I prepared my clamps and glued up. It went together nicely, so I set the clamped assembly aside for a few hours.
Next, I had to finalize the base and get it ready to attach to the box. This included planning the faces and outside edges of any irregularities at the joints, and cutting the horns from the ends. I may not have explained this earlier, but the stile length is cut long by 1” or so to provide more material on the fragile end of the board while chopping the mortises. Once the panel is complete, this extra length, or horn, is cut off. The new cut ends are planed smooth, then a round over is put on all the way around. Do the ends first, so any tear out is removed when the long grain edges are done. All of this work is done with a freshly sharpened Bailey #4.
There is a lot of little work to be completed now, since everything is coming together quickly. Remember the drawer face piece that was cut out and saved on day 1? Time to find it, because fitting the drawer faces is next. Start by matching the grain to the chest. If you thought ahead, you marked it with the cabinet makers triangle before you cut it out. I did not. Plane the top edge smooth, straight, and square, and rip to width. It is important to cut slightly oversized here (⅛” is good), so you can plane the bottom smooth, straight and square. Once the top edge is planed close, reach inside with your knife and mark the exact width at both ends. Cut to length and double check the fit.
Recheck your top edge fit and then mark the bottom for width and start planning. Remember to take only a little at a time, and check your progress often. The bottom also needs to be straight, smooth, and square, these are your finish drawer faces after all. Once this is complete, and you have a perfect fit, do the second drawer face. A word of caution though: check your overall width before you cut the bottom drawer to width. Some of the guy’s lower wings, which are unsupported, warped in slightly. If you cut the bottom drawer to an exact length, without checking that, your drawer face may end up short. It’s ok to cut it long, as prop, while the bottom is fastened. The now unsupported ends will be held in place by the bottom.
Next, the tray bottom supports need to be installed. These are simple ½” x ½” rails attached with glue and small brads to the inside of the box, just above the top drawer opening. I held mine up maybe 1/32” and used a combination square to set the other 3 sides.
My lid had been in the clamps for a little over 3 hours at this point, so I removed the clamps and prepared it for installation. Just like to bottom, I removed the horns and, using only my #4 hand plane, put a round over on the perimeter. It is now ready to be glued in place.
It was a full day and time to go. We cleaned up the shop a bit and looked each other’s projects over for a few minutes. A lot of good ideas bounced around between us. Paul sat his bench, working on something, but all the while paying attention to us. He had a bit a proud smile on his face, knowing that we, his 7 young apprentices, where learning and growing and working with more confidence right in front of him.
He reminds us daily that the project is not the focus of the workshop. The lessons learned have nothing to do with making a tool chest and everything to do with making perfect joinery. The tool chest, coffee table, and rocking chair are nothing more that by-products of the joinery lessons. These ever-so-important lessons can be used to make a coffee table, or enlarged to make a dining table or conference room table. The tool chest lessons can make a jewelry box, or blanket chest and lid can easily become a cupboard door or enlarged to make a bedroom or closet door.