Tuesday, June 25, 2013

3 weeks remain until the FORP (French Oak Roubo Project)

It's been almost 2 months since last I posted.  The weather is warmer and lots of things have been calling me away from the shop.  But I have managed some time in the shop occasionally and my mind has never left the upcoming French Oak Roubo Project.  My excitement builds with each passing day.  More on that later.

Last I posted, I spoke about re-configuring the shop a bit to get ready for my new massively awesome bench.  Some progress has been made.  I moved the chop saw and mounted it on a new cabinet.  The cabinet and surrounding structures are not yet complete, but enough so that I could move the saw.  Also I have removed half of "auxiliary" bench along one wall where I intend for my new bench to reside.  Nothing too exciting there, but it is progress.

Now the exciting part, I have started a tool chest.  I am a big fan of the chests that Chris Schwarz has produced in the last few years.  But when I decided to make a tool chest for myself, I didn't want to build any of them; no offense, Chris.  The problem?  Well, for me, a couple things.  First, while I love my hand tools, I still use a lot of power tools in my work.  This means that I have not yet amassed all of the hand tools that one can buy.  I have a nice small collection, but I don't need a huge chest to store or move them, yet.  Second, I am in a basement workshop with a full set of stairs; it isn't a half basement or walkout.  While I consider myself to be a young strong lad with a decent back, I still tremble when thinking about lugging a large or even a travel ATC up and down those stairs.  Granted, it would most likely only be a few times a year.  But even now I groan every time I walk up and down those stairs with empty hands, let alone with 100 pounds of chest and tools.

So both the first and second problem with building an ATC or a dutch chest for me is size.  I just didn't want that big of a chest.  So after a good long while of thinking about it and designing in my head, I decided that I would make sort of a "best of" chest, taking all the elements that I like from the other chests that Chris builds.  The result will be smaller in footprint than a travel ATC, closer to a dutch, but much much shorter than the dutch.  And instead of the slanted lid on the dutch, I will do a flat lid like the ATCs.  I will also do the tool trays similar to the ATCs and forego the extra storage compartment on the bottom of the dutch.

Third problem: a common theme in the ATC and dutch is pine.  I am not a fan of pine.  So I decided to make mine out of my favorite domestic - Walnut.

The final problem is my stubbornness.  I simply don't like building stuff that other people design.  Don't get me wrong, this chest is heavily borrowing design ideas from Mr. Schwarz.  But I am not building from a plan or cutlist and I am truly making this chest my own.  That's just how I roll.

Now, having read the ATC book, I have a feeling that Chris won't have any problems with my plan.  As it is simply stated in the Prologue: Disobey Me.  That I will do.

So, here is my chest, or the start of it as it is not yet finished.

I chose Walnut because it is my favorite, and it is also lighter and less dense than something like Maple.  I figured it would be light enough for my needs.

Preparing the edges to glue up the panels.


Squaring the end on my crosscut sled and cutting the panels to length.

The box sides are complete and square.  I figured it would be a few days before I could start dovetails, so I stickered them to be safe.

Dovetails - using a divider to lay them out.

Had to get a glamour shot of my new Knew Concepts Fret saw.  Love it!

Dry fit is good, time to glue up the carcass.

While the glue is drying on the box, I got a start on the lid using the same "groove in groove" concept in the ATC lids.  I just used my table saw for making the grooves.

I like it!

I finished off the frame with haunched tenons.

All glued up.  I used "space balls" in the grooves to help keep the center panel centered and stable.

Ok, so I don't have the bottom on yet, but I started mocking up tool placement to get an idea of how I wanted the interior laid out.  I started with a simple saw till.  It only holds 4 saws, cuz that is all I have.  My short list of hand planes will fit just fine in the adjacent space.  Once I get the tool trays done, I will figure out if I want any more tool racks or accessories and where.  I may just end up putting everything else in the trays.  I fully expect this chest to evolve over the next few years as well.  the saw till compartment is only screwed and nailed in place, nothing permanent.

I took the lid out of the clamps and was compelled to put it on the box to see how it is looking.  I like it.

Stay tuned for more progress.  Only 3 weeks left until I leave for the FORP.  I have some hinges from Horton Brass on the way, I should have them installed by this weekend.  I also have the boards for the bottom milled up and ready, just not installed.  I will also start on the trays tonight, if I can get to it.  Lots to do, not much time left!