Look Ma, No Clamps


The carcase is glued up. Thanks Ed for you help.

Next up are drawers and the top. Oh, and along the way, I have to teach myself how to hand cut dovetails…but not tonight.

For now, I’m going to bask in one of life’s small victories.


Posted in The Dresser | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Less Than Perfect. More Than Neccessary.

With all the woodworking done I turned my attention to finishing. Not knowing any better, I bought General Finishes “Milk” Paint on my last trip to Woodcraft. My mom picked out Lamp Black so black it was. I still don’t understand the differences between this product and the traditional powder form of milk paint (at least not from a results standpoint). I guess I’ll have to pick up some of the powder stuff and do a comparison.

As far as the acrylic, GF stuff, I love it. The first coat looked hideous but the second coat was awesome (and easy). I ended up putting a coat of paste wax over the second coat but would’ve liked to try boiled linseed oil. I just didn’t have the time or material to do sample boards.

After the second coat.

After the second coat.

The top was another story. I didn’t do any research on finishing chestnut. Maybe I should’ve. I hear so many great things about shellac so I picked up a can of amber Zinsser. I cut it 50/50 with mineral spirits and ragged on the first coat. My main problem was where the proud breadboard ends meet up with the panel. Getting finish in that area was quite difficult with a rag. On my third coat the rag started to stick as I overlapped strokes and I panicked. I let it cure for about 24 hours and then switched to my tried and true Arm-R-Seal. It ended up ok. If anyone has some tips for working with shellac, please post them in the comments below.

After the second guessing was over, I installed the hardware (including the torsion hinges from Rockler) and put it in our empty dining room for the girls to play with. Then it moved into the office since there was some delivery problems over the weekend. Wherever it went, they weren’t far behind.

For the first day, all I could see were the flaws. But after spending the entire weekend watching my girls make it their own my attitude changed. Completely. They don’t care about the slightly flawed finish, or less than perfect fit, or the slightly uneven reveals. To them it’s a drum, or a place to put their toys, or a seat to put on your shoes.

As this project ends, my only hope is for this chest to evolve alongside my family. And one day, when my mortal coil has shed, for someone to look at this chest as a place to find my heart.

Posted in Toy Chest | Tagged , , , , | 13 Comments

Topping It Off

One of the coolest parts of this project was heading out to the lumber yard with my mom and finding the right board to go on the top. We sifting through many boards but ended up going with some 14″ reclaimed wormy chestnut. This would give the rustic look she wanted and give me an opportunity to work with a new species. I’ll be looking for chestnut in the future. It was a dream to use with hand tools.

Great piece of chestnut - probably off an old barn.

Great piece of chestnut – probably off an old barn.

I knew the chest needed a little bit of help to avoid looking too boxy and basic. Plus I wanted to try out breadboard ends for the first time. My first inclination was to use the Domino DF 500 based on this blog post from Marc. After I thought about it, I didn’t think it would work, so I pulled out my copy of Tom Fidgen’s The Unplugged Woodshop where he used on The Architect’s Table. I knew I didn’t want to do this by hand but I thought the design was a bit more sound than just the dominoes. I remembered a video Glen Huey did on this topic. I figured a combination of these techniques would be perfect.

The next step was to breakdown the big board and make a panel with a smaller piece.

The following morning I woke up with a sudden sinking feeling. I realized I had measured twice and cut once when I broke down the original boards but I didn’t account for the length of the tenons when using the traditional methods Tom and Glen used. Using this approach meant the top would be too short. I spent the whole day trying to figure out what to do. In the end, I went back to my original plan and used Dominos.

With the top done, I broke all the edges with an apron plane, sanded the outside to 150, and started researching milk paint.

Posted in Toy Chest | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Nailed It

Once the pieces were planed, sanded, and prepped, it was time to break out the hide glue and cut nails. I was nervous about this operation because I didn’t want to split this old maple. My first stop, like normal, was to see what The Schwarz had to say about this stuff. Here and here is what he had to say. I studied both of these intently.

In a perfect world, you should test the pilot holes and nail lengths in some test pieces. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any spare maple. So, I decided to start on the back panel as my test piece. I busted out the new drill, took a few deep breaths and went for it. All’s well that ends well.

With the back and sides glued and attached, I knocked the bottom in and then fit the front. It wasn’t as easy as it sounds but it did go together after some creative clamping. And since I’ll be painting this, I knew I could strategically place some wedges and wood putty after the fact.

Words can’t describe how quickly this joinery comes together. I’ll be nailing lots more stuff going forward. If you haven’t tried this, please do.

Posted in Toy Chest | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Workout In the Workshop

It’s been a bit but that’s mostly because I’ve been working in the shop and not spending much time blogging. That’s a good thing. So while I’m letting the second coat of paint dry and watching some basketball I’ll try to catch you up.

I wasn’t overly happy with my sanding job from a few weeks ago. I want a rustic look to the piece but I wanted to keep the inside natural with no finish. Therefore, I had to get rid of the old stain, grime, and schmutz. The photo below shows how most of the boards looked when I started.

Typical starting point

Typical starting point

I decided to breakout the hand planes and scrapers and get my cardio on. 


Traversing the board with my trusting No. 5 from Josh Clarke.


Tapping into nearly my entire hand tool arsenal.

When it was all said and done, the boards looked like this. A little sanding cleaned them up and made them smooth to the touch.


The bottom pine board with a little hollow in the middle


The inside of the front.










The next step was to put the pieces together with cut nails and I’ll go into that in the next post.

Posted in Toy Chest | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tool Gloat: McFeely’s Comes Thru

I don’t normally fall prey to marketing ploys but on Friday night at about 8 PM I saw an email from McFeely’s I couldn’t resist. They had several Festool drills at ridiculously low prices. I knew it wouldn’t last long so I talked it over with my wife (yes, we share the financial burden of the house and communicate as such). I checked the FOG and it was ablaze. At this point, I was certain wouldn’t last long and pulled the trigger.

Buyers remorse set in immediately.

Throughout the weekend I kept thinking it was going to be a joke or mistake. Maybe they’d not charge the card or the drill would be refurbished or maybe even something worse. I even had a dream the drill arrived and it was not a drill at all but some type of Sci-Fi pinchy thing like a crabs claw. I know…issues.

But then today, only one “business” day from when I ordered, I had a big ‘ol package waiting for me on my front door.

I got everything below for under $200 including shipping ($1). There was even extras that weren’t advertised.


Gloat over. Carry on.


Posted in Shop Stuff | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Bag It, Tag It

Today’s post is brought to you by hides and carcases.

I finally completed and glued up all the interior components (carcase for the non-woodworking readers) of my daughter’s chest of drawers. This seemingly small feat signifies a huge step in the ongoing saga with The Dresser. The carcase construction is really the area where my inexperience has shined the brightest. On paper the design is sound but the process to get here was full of troubleshooting and blind faith. I’m so happy it’s done.

Additionally, I used hide glue for the first time. I wanted to get some time with this product since I’ll be taking advantage of it’s slow setup time to glue the case sides to the carcase. I’ll be enlisting the help of a friend from NCCW for this though. I don’t think I can handle the stress of gluing up both sides at once on my own. Hide glue was much stickier than PVA glue, which I wasn’t expecting. I got it everywhere but since it cleans up with water it wasn’t that bad. I’m going to keep it in my arsenal but I’m not ready to abandon Titebond just yet.

Here’s a pictorial description of the process (note the first step was the bottom web frame, which I showed in another post).

One last thing. Just so you don’t think I was lying in my soundtrack post, here’s a shot of what Jam On played during the final glue up. You can’t make this stuff up.


Posted in The Dresser | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments