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Thread: Carver's Chest Build-along

  1. #16
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    I guess you either can get good at cutting dovetails, or you can get good at patching up mistakes. Do better on the former and you don't have to do quite as well on the latter. Leave it to say I've gotten very good at fixing boo-boos, and am still working at making my touch-up and repair skills unnecessary.
    David, long ago I got in the habit of saving the waste from cutting out dovetails for the purpose of having matching grain when filling the gaps.

    Now that my dovetail cutting has improved, the scraps are still saved and often find a use in other areas.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  2. #17
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    Dovetailing Success!

    The dovetailing on the lid went way better than the dovetailing on the case.

    I tried to figure out where I went wrong last time. Cutting the tails is of course simple and no real problem there. I think that where I often go wrong is when marking the pins from the tails, I use a very sharp pencil. It’s not so evident in pine, or poplar or any of the woods that I often use. But in coarse-grained wood, like chestnut, sometimes the point of the pencil wanders, following the grain. Also, I cannot really see well into the pocket and thus can’t be sure that I am truly marking flush with the side of each tail. Also, if the corners of the tails have chipped at all, (this chestnut is very splintery), then the pencil can dive under the tail, which I think was the case with some of the problem ones in the carcass.

    So, I decided to remediate, go back to basics, and take it very slowly. I remembered Derek’s blue tape technique and decided to give that a go, at least what I recall of it. Worked like a charm. Three out of the four joints fit together just the way we like and the fourth only needed a bit of trimming. Only one unsightly gap and that was an errant chop along the scribe-line, which will be easy to patch-in.

    32.jpg

    I glued up the top this morning and the fit on the case is fine. A bit of trimming of the dovetails and flushing the top with the rim all around will be tonight’s job. I may toss the hinges on temporarily to get a better idea of the fit all around.

    32.jpg

    But at least now I can get a sense of the size of the thing. Bigger than I imagined, but it’s sized for the contents, so it is the size it needs to be. I am happy that chestnut is as light and strong as it is. Filled with all of the tools and stones, it will be plenty heavy. Fortunately, I will not have to transport my gear very often, only to classes, really. The rest of the time it will sit on a bench
    and do what it is designed for.

    DC
    Last edited by David Carroll; 02-26-2024 at 11:47 AM.

  3. #18
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    Feb 2007
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    Come together, right now...

    Now the box has a lid. The fit is pretty good! It works fine. I did install the hinges from Gerstner, I can't say I am thrilled with the quality and I think that I will wipe them down with lacquer thinner and try some Liver of Sulfur (or something) on them to kill the brassy newness a bit.

    But it's coming together! Not quickly, I've seen continents drift faster, but it is!

    34.jpg

    DC

  4. #19
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    Good progress, so far!
    A Planer? I'm the Planer, and this is what I use

  5. #20
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    Hardware time!

    And there is a lot of hardware! This chest has 2 pivot hinge plates, with pins to allow the front panel to drop and then stow under the drawers, then it has spring-loaded plunger pins that when the top is closed it pushes the pins through the top rail and into holes in the lid, locking it when the cover is latched. It also has a handle on the top, and four latches, two on the front, one on each side. Finally there are two lid hinges, and corner protectors on all eight corners.

    Lot's of hardware. For the moment I will forego the center locking latch. I haven't found one that is small enough and not pure junk.

    Normally, I finish first and then install hardware, that works fine when it's a pair of hinges and a lock or something relatively simple. But with so much hardware, I decided to install everything, then remove it and finish and then put it all back. Gerstner uses rivets for their handles and screws for everything else. I'll use brass oval head machine screws and T-nuts for the handles, hinges, and latches, as these will bear the weight of the box when carried. The 3/8-inch brass wood screws don't seem to be up to the job. They'll be fine for the corner protectors though.

    Anyway, I have been worried about the pivot pins and plunger pin installation. It needs to be accurate and I don't have time or materials to do it again if I mess up. I was most worried about drilling the holes accurately, without using a drill press, since I have challenged myself to do this all by hand. So I made something of a compromise, at work during lunch I went to the machine shop and made myself a drilling guide on the Bridgeport, basically a very accurate plumb and square series of holes, I needed 5/32 for the pivot pins, an N-drill for the plunger pin assembly, and a No. 3 drill for the pin bushings that get pressed into the lid and receive the locking plunger pins.

    Here it is, the center of each hole is scribed onto the short side and can be aligned with a mark on the box. For placement along the width of the box, I am following an old Gerstner box that is the same width.

    35.jpg

    Line up the marks, clamp the guide to the box and get busy cranking the eggbeater. It took awhile, but worked well enough.

    36.jpg

    Here is the set-up, and the hole on the left I just finished (not in the photo). I did clamp a scrap to where the drill would exit, to avoid blowout. (also not pictured). It all worked out pretty well.

    I have to stop for the day, but tomorrow I will cut the pins to length (my top rail is less deep than Gerstner's) and get those assembled. I wont take them apart for finishing because the bushings are press fits and it should be easy enough to finish around them.

    Until tomorrow. Maybe I'll have time to get started on making drawers!

    DC
    Last edited by David Carroll; 03-02-2024 at 1:08 PM.

  6. #21
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    And the rest of the hardware...almost

    Back at it this morning!

    I managed to install the locking pin mechanisms, as I mentioned before the pins and the springs both had to be trimmed. But it went well and the mechanisms work beautifully! Just like on the other Gerstner boxes I have. Whew! Then it was just adding the latches, and then all of the corner protectors.

    Here it is all together with all the hardware.

    37.jpg

    The only thing missing is the handle on top, I am out of No. 8-32 T-nuts. So that has to wait, I might have some at work or maybe they have them at the hardware store near me.

    Now onto the drawers!

    38.jpg

    If you look closely you can see the T-nuts in the side of the till. The screws obviously need to be cut to length or maybe I can find some the right length at the hardware store.

    The two stiles on the panel are much darker than all of the rest of the wood, I will try to blend it in a bit with the staining. Normally I don't mind minor color variations, but when I showed it all to SWMBO, she remarked that they were so different they looked like a different species!

    DC

  7. #22
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    Drawer Parts

    Once the hardware was sorted I turned my attention to the drawer parts. I'd already blanked out the sides and backs, so I figured I'd run the grooves for the drawer runners. Since there were twelve sides to do I committed myself to getting the Stanley 46 dialed in. Steve mentioned the nickers, I decided to have a closer look, they needed sharpening so I did that, reinstalled them and made sure they were sticking out a bit more than the blade. I payed extra attention to the runners, making sure they were aligned with the blade, which I sharpened. Then I adjusted the fence and set to work.

    39.jpg

    It worked perfectly! I take back all the bad things I have ever said about the 46. It was an ID-10T user error all along! I worked through the dozen sides in less than an hour. The drawer sides were oversize in height so some pleasant trimming and they all now slide easily with no slop.

    40.jpg

    So here's where I leave it for tonight, just one more picture:

    41.jpg

    Spills anyone?

    DC

  8. #23
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    Make enough of those on my own..thanks anyway..

    Looking like good progress, too!
    A Planer? I'm the Planer, and this is what I use

  9. #24
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    I like the clocked screws on the latches. Everything else is also looking good.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  10. #25
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    Feb 2020
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    Just wanted to say I’m appreciating following along. How is the Gerstner pin hardware?

    It seems pretty specialized and I don’t recall seeing anyone else selling something similar.

  11. #26
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    Thanks for the comments guys! Ben, the plunger pin assemblies are pretty nice, the milling of the pins, the specialized bushings, all of it were pretty nicely machined, the pivot hinge and the corresponding plates were less so, mine came rusty and the hole in the plate that support the pin and the thin wood in the sides of the drop lid were rusty and punched way off the centerline of the part. But they worked. I cleaned them up.

    Gerstners instructions on how to install them are lacking in detail, there are some YouTube videos, but fortunately for me, Tom Blank, who has used the hardware before, helped me through the process, and it all turned out fine.

    DC

  12. #27
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    Very good project David. I would love to work with chestnut - it seems like it would work nicely with hand tools.

  13. #28
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    Thanks Mark! THe Chestnut does work nicely. It's a pretty soft, light wood as hardwoods go, it planes well and the finish off of the plane is really nice, almost waxey. It's very open grained, and the grain patterns made up of wood that's almost lacey. I don't know the official term but it's a coarse ring porous grain pattern, kind of like red oak. But much softer and lighter in weight, at least what I am working with.

    The frustrating part is that when the "lacey" bits end up on an edge, they crumble into a splintery mess. I noticed this in some of the dovetails and grooves that followed the grain, it was hard to keep a sharp corner.

    But all in all I can see why it was so widely used, back before the blight wiped essentially all of it out.

    DC

  14. #29
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    Feb 2007
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    Drawers!

    I've been working away at the project, now making drawers. I decided to start with the small drawers, to get my feet wet. I went round and round, trying to decide on the dovetail layout. I have the 1/2-inch wide groove down each side to accommodate and a 1/8-inch groove on the other side, for the bottom. Laying out the dovetails was a challenge. I could just have one big dovetail, wide enough to accommodate the runner-groove, and that was my plan, at first. But then I decided to put one small tail on either side of the groove. They would have to be small, 1/4-inch at the big end. Among the smallest I have ever made. I figured it would look better on these shallow drawers (1-3/4-inch tall). So I set to cutting.

    But wait, I had forgotten to dimension the chestnut for the drawer fronts! So, back up and do that. Get out all the planes for thicknessing stock, I use a bunch.

    42.jpg

    I had almost a quarter inch to remove, so I tend to use the scrub plane to get down to about 1/8-inch from the line (one pass), then the jack to get to about 1/32-inch above the line (2 -3 passes), then the No.7 to the line, nice and flat, finally the No. 4 to halve the line and make pretty. It almost takes longer to type the process out, than it does to actually do it. If there's much more to remove I generally rip to the line and start with the No. 7. The miter plane (LN No. 9) I use with my bench hook for trimming and squaring ends.

    The scrub plane makes quick work of knocking the varnish off of this previously finished wood.

    43.jpg 45 (2).jpg Scrub marks.jpg

    I love the pattern the scrub plane leaves. I once lived in an old Colonial era house where some of the beams that were in the cellar showed such marks, along with beautifully scalloped adze marks, and the racing axe and broad axe marks.

    I didn't take a picture of the finished fronts, but you'll see them down the road. Then back to the dovetails. I decided, in the interest of time to go with a single dovetail at the back, which would be rarely seen. The benefit of this in these shallow drawers, is no chopping between tails, cut this way and that way and you're ready for trimming! Here's my setup on my tail vise with a parallel clamp in the vise. To flip the board, a quarter turn of the clamp handle and it's out. Flip it over and another quarter turn and it's locked for the next operation.

    46.jpg

    I got all wrapped up in the dovetailing and entirely forgot to take photos. I got the two top drawers done in an afternoon. I fitted them into the case and couldn't resist filling them up with stuff (space is very limited in my shop, so storage is at a premium).

    47.jpg

    The half-blind, small dovetails went together with little trouble, but it turns out that I didn't really like the look of the layout, but not enough to redo them. I did however, like the look of the single big dovetail at the back (not pictured), so I resolved to make the big drawers at the bottom with single tails front and back. Which will be the subject of the next installment. (Hopefully soon!)

    DC
    Last edited by David Carroll; 03-12-2024 at 3:54 PM. Reason: Forgot one picture

  15. #30
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    Hiatus

    Well, the class is less than a week away, and I will not be done with the box in time. Everything has taken me longer than anticipated.

    The current stumbling block are the drawer pulls. I didn't design into the box enough space for knobs. I intended to use campaign style flush ring pulls, but the drawers are only 1-3/4-inches tall and I wasn't able to find any that were small enough. Then I tried small flush mount cup pulls, but these are meant for sliding doors. In order to use them to open a drawer, they need to have a lip so your finger has something to grab. I have an old Pilliod Machinist's box that has these, and I assumed I could find some. But I couldn't, at least not small enough.

    I tried making some simple tooling out of Delrin and spinning a lip onto them on the lathe at work, but it distorted the bezel around the pull. I think if I annealed the brass and remade the tooling to support the bezel it might work, but my time to do personal stuff in the shop is limited and I have to work around the normal activities there.

    My current thinking is to get some 1/2-inch brass washers, bore the hole in the washer to 11/16-inch and the OD to 1-inch, then silver solder the cup pull bezel to the washer. Then I can press them into a stepped hole. It might work. But not by next Friday, I still need to finish the box, and add felt to the till and all the drawers. So, it is time to take a deep breath and punt.

    I'm disappointed it won't be done for the class, but the box is turning out so nicely that I would hate to rush through the rest of it and be unhappy with the final result, just to meet what really is an arbitrary deadline. Plus the point of the class is to carve, not to show off my fancy tool box. :-)

    So, the project drops down on the priority list and I will work on it as I have time throughout the Spring and Summer. There is another class in September, which I am considering taking. So, there may be another opportunity.

    Thanks for following along and I will post pictures of progress when it occurs.

    DC

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