Tool Chest #3: Sizing the Shell Parts

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by CartersWhittling posted 05-04-2012 03:13 AM 4424 reads 1 time favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: Starting the Shell Part 3 of Tool Chest series Part 4: Dovetailing the Shell »


In the last post I left off with the shell sides glued up and flat on one face. Yesterday and today I had some time to finish sizing those parts.

I started off by thicknessing. If you are not a wood worker that has become comfortable with hand planing, then you will regret it with this project. The only way for most of us to flatten and thickness a board about 2’ wide is with hand planes. So if you do not have the knowledge or skills yet to dimension lumber by hand, this project will show you why it is a good idea to learn how.

To begin, I use a marking gauge to scribe the thickness around each board.

Then I can start planing. Because some boards needed about a 1/16” to be taking off in places, I used my scrub plane across the grain. To keep the far edge from spelching I planed into the center from either side.

The nice thing about using a marking gauge to scribe the thickness instead of just an adjustable square and pencil, is the knife line it leaves behind. When you plane down to that scribed line you can see it and know exactly when to stop.

After that, I could use a try plane with the grain to flatten the scallops, then give the board a smoothing. I didn’t bother smoothing the boards immaculately since after assembly this face will be planed when leveling out the dovetails.

All the sides and the bottom boards planed to about 3/4” thick. I would have liked them closer to 7/8”, but 3/4” was the thickest I could make them all. Although at 3/4” the chest will be a little lighter.

With the boards all an even thickness I could go on to trimming the width of the parts. I started by jointing the best edge on each board.

Mark this as a reference face.

I then measured across each board and took note of what the maximum width was I could make all the boards. The thinnest piece measured at 23 1/4”, so that is what I marked each board at. This would be the perfect time to have a panel gauge so I could quickly mark the width on all the parts. (The panel gauge, for those that do not know, is a very large marking gauge.) Instead I measured 23 1/4” up each side and connected the marks with a knife line. Since I only had a 1/4” at the most to remove from the edge, I used my scrub plane to remove most of the wood. (As a side note, you could get away with not even planing the boards to width now. As long as you have one straight edge for reference, and layout your dovetailing for a 23 1/4” wide board, you can plane the edge away after the shell is glued up.)

Here you can see the knife line peeling up as I get close to the finished width.

With the parts trimmed to width I laid out the final length of each part. The front and back are 38” long, and the sides are 22”. Using a hand saw I cut along the lines, and using a block plane I trimmed the edge to ensure it was square and straight.

Just like when thicknessing the boards, to keep the far edge from spelching I planed from both ends into the center.

Now I have all the case sides ready for joinery. Next will be cutting the 48 dovetails.

PS//After all that work, especially in resin filled pine, take your hand planes apart and give them a good cleaning.

-- And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord... Colossians 3:23

8 comments so far

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10097 posts in 4050 days

#1 posted 05-04-2012 03:54 AM

Beautiful tutorial… Very educational!

Thank you very much!


-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:"

View AttainableApex's profile


347 posts in 2831 days

#2 posted 05-04-2012 07:16 AM

nice job

-- Ben L

View BTimmons's profile


2303 posts in 2483 days

#3 posted 05-04-2012 04:31 PM

It’s really nice to see a thorough project with hand tools.

-- Brian Timmons -

View doordude's profile


1085 posts in 2981 days

#4 posted 05-05-2012 05:01 AM

nice job carter, are you going to use 3/4 for the bottom as well?
are you following the schwarze’s plans for you chest?

View CartersWhittling's profile


453 posts in 2672 days

#5 posted 05-05-2012 06:26 PM

I am following his plans closely. I am changing some dimensions based on the lumber I have. I was able to make the bottom boards a little thicker, closer to 7/8”.

-- And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord... Colossians 3:23

View Mauricio's profile


7144 posts in 3149 days

#6 posted 05-07-2012 02:10 PM

Great progress Carter

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

View Bertha's profile


13528 posts in 2691 days

#7 posted 05-07-2012 02:12 PM

Man Carter! Do you EVER do anything half a$$ed? Wonderful as usual:)

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View sb194's profile


196 posts in 3016 days

#8 posted 06-12-2012 02:04 PM

All I can say is wow. I am 35 and still don’t have half the skill you do. Watching your blog just motivates me to learn more and be better at all aspects of woodworking.

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics