Sunday, February 14, 2010
A Box for Blocks
For my son's first birthday I made him the Skunk Bench. For his second, I'm making him a set of blocks. Of course, I hadn't been working on the blocks for very long when I realized that they would need a place to live. Bam! New project!
I decide to make a chest. I looked through Lon Schleining's excellent book Treasure Chests and saw several "sea chests" that inspired me. Of course, I had to change things; it's what I do.
Some changes come from my design muse, some from problem solving during the construction process. I like it when the changes provide a certain amount of "funky" or "quirky" character to a piece - it keeps things interesting. I've posted about this before.
I sketched out a rough design and went with a raised panel bottom set in grooves in the sides and ends. On a chest this size, I think it would be more common, and arguably better - as it would have not stolen from the depth of the interior, to just nail on a solid bottom. But I liked the idea and how it makes the box different.
Once I started building, a couple of other changes appeared. First I didn't have wide enough stock to make the top out of one board, and rather than gluing up wider stock, I modified the top design completely. Then, after numerous attempts at modifying the handle hardware, I threw it away keeping only the bails; and replaced the mounting hardware with simple eye screws. All the hardware I blackened with a linseed oil patina that I first experimented with back on the Turning Saw project. After seeing the blackened hardware sitting on the raw wood of the box, I liked it so much I abandoned my original idea of painting the box.
After deciding not to paint the box, I also decided to leave the nails exposed, and to use wrought head nails to attach the hinges. This was the first time I'd used the clench nail technique, and I had mixed results. The nails I had were either too short or too long. As nails that are too short are not clenchable, I went with the too long option - but things got messy. In the end, it worked, but it was not pretty...
One special thing about this project for my son was that I used a tool with family history. It's a hand drill from our hardware store, that my father gave me as a boy. I love the idea that there is a three generation connection in this project.
In the end, I think I created a functional box for the blocks, but one that has just the right amount of unique character to make it extra special for my son.
And finally, the traditional shot of the tool kit used on this project:
Not pictured: shooting board and miter box.