CedarChest For “Little Fish”

Katie asked me to make her a cedar chest for a wedding present. I guess I started something when I made one for her older sister when she got married. I went through my woodworking magazines and gave her of choice of 8 different ones that I found. She picked the one featured in issue #203 of FineWoodWorking - a blanket chest designed by Peter Turner (http://www.petersturner.com/). I changed a few details (wood species, use of a flap stay to protect future grandchildren children, and the finish), but the basic design was left intact.

Katie asked me to make her a cedar chest for a wedding present. I guess I started something when I made one for her older sister when she got married. I went through my woodworking magazines and gave her of choice of 8 different ones that I found. She picked the one featured in issue #203 of FineWoodWorking – a blanket chest designed by Peter Turner (http://www.petersturner.com/). I changed a few details (wood species, use of a flap stay to protect future grandchildren children, and the finish), but the basic design was left intact.

The legs and rails of the basic chest are joined together with loose tenons. The most time consuming task was to cut the 64 mortises that held the frame together. I had never used these before and was pleasantly surprised in the flexibility it add to the construction process. I made several small layout errors due to the 3 degree angle between the legs and the rails. These were relatively easy to fix by just trimming the loose tenon used in the joint.

The legs and rails of the basic chest are joined together with loose tenons. The most time consuming task was to cut the 64 mortises that held the frame together. I had never used these before and was pleasantly surprised at the flexibility it adds to the construction process. I made several small layout errors due to the 3 degree angle between the legs and the rails. These were relatively easy to fix by just trimming the loose tenon used in the affected joint.

To accurately cut the mortises, I made a fence for my router base. I just consisted of hot rolled steel rods that would fit in the holes provided in my router base, an oak fence that I pinned the steel rods to, and a fixed and removable spacer to space the router bit from the edge of the work.

To accurately cut the mortises, I made a fence for my router base. I just consisted of hot rolled steel rods that would fit in the holes provided in my router base, an oak fence that I pinned the steel rods to, a fixed spacer screwed to the fence and a removable spacer that could be attached to the fixed space with three wood screws.

The mortises were all cut in pairs to provide adequate strength for the 1 inch stock used. I built an adjustable fence for my router with a removable space that allowed both mortises to be cut with a single fence setup. I just had to remove the spacer for the second mortise. This ensured that the spacing of the pair of mortises was consistent across all parts, and ensured that the parts joined with the loose tenons would all fit together.

The mortises were all cut in pairs to provide adequate strength for the 1 inch stock used. I built an adjustable fence for my router with a removable spacer that allowed both mortises to be cut with a single fence setup. I just had to remove the spacer for the second mortise. This ensured that the spacing of the pair of mortises was consistent across all parts, and ensured that the parts joined with the loose tenons would all fit together.

Since the end grain area was so small, a platform to rest the router base on was made by clamping blocks of wood to the side of the stock .

Since the end grain area where the mortises were to be cut was so small, the matching pair of legs or rails were clamped together, and then a platform to rest the router base on was made by clamping additional blocks of wood to the side of the stock .

Here is the fence and router in action.

Here is the fence and router in action.

The panels in the chest are the same thickness as the frame pieces. To allow for wood expansion/contraction with humidity changes they must float within the enclosing stiles and rails. The surface of the panel was cut to provide about a 1/8 inch reveal after the panel was inserted between rail and stile or leg. Here the cuts are made on the table saw.

The panels in the chest are the same thickness as the frame pieces. To allow for wood expansion/contraction with humidity changes they must float within the enclosing stiles and rails. The surface of the panel was cut to provide about a 1/8 inch reveal after the panel was inserted between rail and stile or leg. Here the cuts are made on the table saw.

The end panels fit into a dado cut into the wide side of the legs. A block of wood clamped at the end of the groove provides a reference to rest the mortising chisel against to get a square cut.

The end panels fit into a mortise cut on the side of the legs. A block of wood clamped at the end of the groove provides a square surface to rest the mortising chisel against to get a square cut.

The tenon cheeks on the stiles were cut using my tenon jig that fits over the table saw fence.

The tenon cheeks on the stiles were cut using my tenon jig that fits over the table saw fence.

After dry fitting all the parts for a side to ensure a good fit, glue was applied to the loose tenons and 3 degree clamping cauls were used on the end of the legs to provide a square clamping surface.

After dry fitting all the parts for a side to ensure a good fit, glue was applied to the loose tenons and 3 degree clamping cauls were used on the end of the legs to provide a square clamping surface.

To keep the the floating hardwood panels from moving within to rail/stile area (and to keep a consistent reveal), brads were inserted into a hole drilled at each side in the center of the panels, cut off and filed flat. Keep in mind that the maximum wood movement in solid panels occurs across the grain - hence the pins in the center.

To keep the the floating hardwood panels from moving within the rail/stile area (and to keep a consistent reveal), brads were inserted into a hole drilled at each side in the center of the panels, cut off and filed flat. Keep in mind that the maximum wood movement in solid panels occurs across the grain – hence the pins in the center allow movement both up and down from the pinned location.

After allowing the glue on each side to dry overnight, I used my oscillating sander to create a smooth contour between the joined leg and rail parts.

After allowing the glue on each side to dry overnight, I used my oscillating sander to create a smooth contour between the joined leg and rail parts.

After finish sanding each side to 220 grit, It was time to do the fine tuning of the loose tenons that would join the end panels to the sides.

After finish sanding each side to 220 grit, It was time to do the fine tuning of the loose tenons that would join the end panels to the sides.

Now came the big glue-up, joining the end panels and rails to the side panels. I used titebond III for its longer open time. I was still nip and tuck with the number of joints to glued and clamped - lucky I had a helper. I also used a diagonal clamp to pull the frame into square.

Now came the big glue-up, joining the end panels and rails to the side panels. I used titebond III for its longer open time. I was still nip and tuck with the number of joints to be glued and clamped – lucky I had a helper. I also used a diagonal clamp to pull the frame into square. Angled cauls kept the clamps from slipping.

Since I had sanded the interior surfaces before glue-up, I could now apply oil to the inside of the chest. I wanted to do this before I inserted the bottom, because the bottom panels were made of aromatic cedar, which would remain unfinished.

Since I had sanded the interior surfaces before glue-up, I could now apply oil to the inside of the chest. I wanted to do this before I inserted the bottom, because the bottom panels were made of aromatic cedar, which would remain unfinished.

This shows the bottom being glued up. The panels were rabbeted and later pinned as described previously for the side panels to allow for wood movement. Bottom was made from 3/4 Inch stock.

This shows the bottom being glued up. The panels were rabbeted and later pinned as described previously for the side panels to allow for wood movement. Bottom was made from 3/4 Inch stock. I used tongue and groove joints on the aromatic cedar to get the panels wide enough.

A final hand sanding with 320 grit sandpaper prepped the outside for the oil finish.

A final hand sanding with 320 grit sandpaper prepped the outside for the oil finish.

Here is a picture with the oil applied to the outside of the chest. I used Watco Fruitwood on both the oak and the cherry.

Here is a picture with the oil applied to the outside of the chest. I used Watco Fruitwood on both the oak and the cherry.

Since the sides are angled at 3 degrees, the frame of the bottom had to be angled as well. Numerous fitting trials were required to get a snug fit with enough space left below the bottom to allow cleats to be attached on the inside beneath the bottom to keep the bottom in place.

Since the sides are angled at 3 degrees, the frame of the bottom had to be angled as well. Numerous fitting trials were required to get a snug fit with enough space left below the bottom to allow cleats to be attached on the inside beneath the bottom to keep the bottom in place.

I now made the sliding tray which rides on the rails inset into the inside face of the sides which can be seen on the previous photo. I dovetailed aromatic cedar for the tray and left it unfinished as well. I used 3/4 inch stock for the sides and 1/2 for the bottom. I figured that the area provided by the aromatic cedar in the bottom panel and the siding tray would be enough to keep a strong cedar odor in the chest.

I now made the sliding tray which rides on the rails inset into the inside face of the sides which can be seen on the previous photo. I dovetailed aromatic cedar for the tray and left it unfinished as well. I used 3/4 inch stock for the sides and 1/2 for the bottom. I figured that the area provided by the aromatic cedar in the bottom panel and the sliding tray would be enough to keep a strong cedar odor in the chest.

The top was made from Brazilian Cherry (Jatoba), which is very hard and is often used in flooring. I like it because of its color and hardness, which make it dent resistant.  A good feature in a top. The top was made from three boards, edge glued together.  This is what it looked like after Watco Natural Oil was applied.

The top was made from Brazilian Cherry (Jatoba), which is very hard and is often used in flooring. I like it because of its color and hardness, which make it dent resistant. A good feature in a top. The top was made from three boards, edge glued together. This is what it looked like after Watco Natural Oil was applied.

Here is the top attached to the chest with non-mortise hinges and the flap stay (Lee Valley item # 00U06.01) installed.

Here is the top attached to the chest with non-mortise hinges and the flap stay (Lee Valley item # 00U06.01) installed.

Headboard From an Old Door


My daughter saw a post on the web about making a headboard out of an old door.
http://www.infarrantlycreative.net/2011/09/door-headboard-roadkill-rescue.html
Here is how it turned out, after a LOT of work.



She started by applying a chemical stripper to remove the old layers of paint off the door. I insisted she use a less toxic Citri-based product even though it requires more applications. Read the cautionary warnings on the products and decide for yourself. She counted about 5 different colors on top of the original base coat.



We found that after the stripper loosened the old paint, we could quickly remove several layers at a time by using a paint scrapper. I sharpened the blade frequently as it would quickly dull.



As old as the door was, we had to assume that some of the paint layers used lead based paint. We found that the oldest paint layers were very tough and very resistant to the stripper. We used dust masks when sanding, which was about the only way to penetrate the bottom layer of paint. Paint would not build-up on 60 grit sandpaper on the orbital sander unless a lot of pressure was used.



Here we have finally made it down to bare wood on the one side. I made plugs to fill in up the cavities left by deadbolts and the door knobs, etc. Rockhard putty was used to fill in smaller screw holes and cracks at joints. The outer surface of the lowest door panel was buckled from water damage. I removed it by cutting around the edge of the panel trim with a utility knife. I made a new layer by planing down 5mm plywood to the required 3/32 inch thickness.



The most tedious part of the re-finishing process was removing the paint from the grooves in the molding profile around the recessed door panels. Scrapers were too aggressive for the hemlock that the door was made from. We found that the triangular sanding pads on a multi-tool worked well, but the pads had to be replaced often because of paint build-up.



I decided to take the backside of the door down to bare wood instead of sealing it as the internet post suggested. I was concerned about not getting a good bond with a sealer and having it flake off, or not doing a good job of containing the “old wood” smell. Rather than take the time to do the requisite detail sanding on the molding profile, I used my router with a cove bit to quickly cut through the profile into bare wood. I then used a 1/2 straight bit to quickly remove the paint from the panel adjacent to the edges. I clamped straight edge guides to the door for both operations to get a straight smooth cut.



I used the orbital sander with 60 grit sandpaper to quickly (about 10 minutes per panel) remove the paint in the interior spaces of the recessed panels.



All that remained was to use the sanding attachment of the multi-tool to remove the paint from the corners where the 5 inch radius of the orbital sander could not reach.



I had to extend the top side of the door so that the crown molding would not extend over the recessed panels and to balance the width of the visible portions of the top and bottom door rails. I did this by ripping a 2×4 to a width just under that which would be covered by the crown molding, and then planing it to match the door thickness. I ripped the edge of the door to provide a straight and square mating surface for the extension and glued and screwed it into place.



Now all surfaces of the headboard were painted with two coats primer. An oil base primer may work better than latex for blocking odor of the underlying door.



A special fence was made for the miter saw to hold the crown molding upright in its installed orientation – but upside down. This allows 45 degree corners to be cut and safely holds the crown molding while the cut is made. The distance to the raised part of the fence matches the horizontal offset required by the bottom of the crown molding.



I cut one 45 degree angle on the long front section of the crown molding and then another on a short side section, to gauge the amount of overlap needed on the top, which was temporarily clamped to the top side of the headboard.



Now I could cut the length of the 1×6 top of the headboard to match the requirement of the crown molding. A 1×6 was used because the headboard would be mounted to the bed frame with two vertical 2x4s, and I wanted the back edge of top to extend over them, so they would not be visible. The top as glued and screwed to the extension, and Rockhard putty was used to fill the recessed screw holes.

Now the crown molding could be fastened to the top of the head board with crown staples. I clamped small blocks on each end of the headboard at the required distance from the top. This provided a stable surface against which the bottom edge of the crown molding could rest while being fastened. I then used longer staples to secure to top edge of the crown molding to the top of the headboard.


After priming the top and crown molding, the final two coats of paint were applied. A paint conditioner was added to the paint to thin it out to eliminate brush marks. An exterior/interior base was used because it dries harder and should stand up better.



Here is the finished headboard attached to the bed frame.