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Tool Chest #6: Skirts

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Blog entry by CartersWhittling posted 807 days ago 3605 reads 2 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 5: Frame and Panel Lid Part 6 of Tool Chest series Part 7: Hinges, Lock and Paint »

Hello.

With the shell and lid of the chest complete the next task on the agenda is building the skirts. The skirts are essentially moldings that protect the shell of the chest from damage and help seal the lid off from dust. Though unlike normal moldings and skirts on many other chests, the tool chest Chris describes has skirts which are dovetailed at the corners. This creates a skirt that will not open up due to seasonal humidity changes. The dovetails are also oriented so that the tails are on the short sides of the chest, not the long sides like the shell. So not only do the skirts protect the shell from damage, they help hold it together by creating a chest that cannot open in any direction (without complete joint/glue failure).

Before I show you the work on the skirts though I will show how the bottom of the chest was built.

When I had first got all the wood for my chest and rough cut all my parts, I selected the bottom boards last. The bottom boards will hardly be seen, and besides the length, the size of the parts can vary. I ended up with 4 boards to create my bottom. So after I had the bottom boards thicknessed, I made sure the edges were straight and parallel to each other. Then I laid the boards out and marked each edge for either a tongue or groove. I used a plow plane to make 1/4” grooves…

...and a rabbet plane to make the tongues.


I don’t have a great rabbet plane, its too short to handle easily. So I made a longer wooden front for better reference. I used marking gauges first to mark along the boards the depth and width of the cuts.

I attached the bottom boards to the shell with the parts still longer then needed. After I nailed the boards to the shell I cut and planed them flush


I used dimes to space out the bottom boards.


I then also added three extra strips to the bottom, which are suppose to be the first defences against rot.

Before you begin on the skirts you want to make sure the lid sits flush on the top of the shell and all the lid’s edges are sticking past the shell by a 1/64” or so. Do not make the lid edges perfectly flush with the shell, otherwise there is little chance the skirt around the lid will slip over the shell.

To begin the skirts I got my material and planed it on both faces and edges. Like the rest of the chest so far I want the parts to be as thick as I can keep them. At this point I squared one end of each part, but left them longer then needed.

The bottom skirt is 6” wide, the lid skirt is 1 1/2” and the middle skirt is 3 3/4” (Chris’ chest had a middle skirt width of 2 3/4”, but I think the extra width looks better). I began with the bottom skirt first.

Start by dovetailing one corner like you would any normal dovetail joint. Make sure to offset the dovetails from one edge so that there is space to create the chamfer that will be on top of the skirt. This joint has 3 tails.

With the joint made, place the L-shape assembly in place against the shell. Then with a marking knife, mark on the short piece where the end of the shell is on the skirt.

Then wrap those marks around the board with a try square to create the base line of that joint. You can also cut the board to length at this point. Now you can cut the dovetails to attach the other long side.


At this point I have a U-shape assembly made up of one short piece and the two long pieces.

Now I stood the chest on end to layout for the final piece of the bottom skirt. With the U-shape assembly in place I can mark the baseline of each of the long pieces. I can also lay the final short piece on the shell and mark it’s length and the baselines.


(You can see here that I had actually fit the bottom skirt before I nailed the bottom to the chest.)

Then just cut the dovetails on the last two corners. The middle skirt is done the exact same way.

And before assembly, take time to roughly shape the chamfers. It it much easier to do it now while the skirts are not attached to the shell.

The lid for the skirt is built the same as the others, except that there is only one long side.

At this point I can glue the bottom skirt to the shell and the upper skirt to the lid.


That sure didn’t turn out pretty. But it is nothing some wood filler and paint won’t conceal.

Now you can use a chisel and block plane to touch up the chamfer on the bottom skirt and the protruding joinery. At this point you want to plane the bottom edges of the lid skirt to make sure they are flush and true. Test the skirt’s bottom edge against a flat surface to make sure it is perfectly flat. If you do this now then you may not need any fussing with fitting the lid later. You will also want to dry assembly the middle skirt off of the chest and check that it’s top edges are flush and true as well.

With the skirt on the lid ready, place the lid into position on the chest and double check that it fits. When all is good, use a pencil to mark the bottom edge of the lid’s skirt along the shell of the chest. Now we are ready to glue on the middle skirt.

This part of the job is crucial. A middle skirt glued into the wrong position will create a gap between it and the lid’s skirt or demand a lot of extra time to trim it until it does fit. But because we drew the bottom edge of the lid’s skirt onto the shell we just have to make sure the top edge of the middle skirt is along that line.

After the glue is dry all that is left is to trim the joints up and sand it (that is, if the lid sits flush against the middle skirt).

Next up will be fitting the hinges and the lock.

-- And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord... Colossians 3:23 http://carterswhittling.wordpress.com/



14 comments so far

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

7688 posts in 2688 days


#1 posted 807 days ago

Golly!

You’re doing a wonderful job!

Keep it up…

Thank you!

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: http://www.WoodworkStuff.net ... My Small Gallery: http://www.ncwoodworker.net/pp/showgallery.php?ppuser=1389&cat=500"

View sb194's profile

sb194

176 posts in 1654 days


#2 posted 806 days ago

Looks great. Keep up the nice work.

View MShort's profile

MShort

1726 posts in 2054 days


#3 posted 806 days ago

Looks like you are making great progress.

-- Mike, Missouri --- “A positive life can not happen with a negative mind.” ---

View SirFatty's profile

SirFatty

471 posts in 848 days


#4 posted 806 days ago

Really nice work!

-- Visit my blog at dave.spalla.com

View Roger's profile

Roger

14436 posts in 1440 days


#5 posted 806 days ago

Coming along fantastically! Nice dovetails.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Kentuk55@bellsouth.net

View kenn's profile

kenn

787 posts in 2356 days


#6 posted 806 days ago

I agree, it is coming along great and it look like you are almost there, thanks again for keeping us updated.

-- Every cloud has a silver lining

View woodworker59's profile

woodworker59

560 posts in 837 days


#7 posted 805 days ago

As usual you are doing a bang up job, keep us all advised as to your progress.. always love to see what you have going on.. looking forward to the next installment. Roy would be proud of ya.. looks like one of his.. Papa

-- Papa@papaswoodworking.com

View Mauricio's profile

Mauricio

6810 posts in 1787 days


#8 posted 804 days ago

That chest is looking beautiful Carter.

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

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

9826 posts in 1254 days


#9 posted 801 days ago

Carter – this is outstanding stuff. I pulled a very old chest from the clutches of irrelevance last weekend and the issue with it is no lid. I’m looking at your entries above, specifically this one (with the pic showing just the lid, with skirt, on your benchtop):

The lid for the skirt is built the same as the others, except that there is only one long side.

Is the ‘lid skirt’ only glued in place? No dowels, or nails, or ?? Did you add a slight rabbet inside for the lid to register to?

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive

View CartersWhittling's profile

CartersWhittling

451 posts in 1310 days


#10 posted 801 days ago

The skirt on the lid is only glued in place. I didn’t have any suitable nails to nail it in place as well, like Chris recommends. Once I get the proper nails I might nail the skirt as well.

-- And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord... Colossians 3:23 http://carterswhittling.wordpress.com/

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

9826 posts in 1254 days


#11 posted 801 days ago

Excellent, thanks for the info. Getting close to figuring out how best to proceed with my rehab project and this was a great help!

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive

View RGtools's profile

RGtools

3302 posts in 1290 days


#12 posted 753 days ago

This is where I am on the same project, thanks fotr your walkthrough as it gave me a few ideas on how to handle my build. Based on the material I have on hand I was considering putting in a walnut “floor”, which would resit rot quite well I think. Do you think it would add to much weight? What about slimming the floor down to 5/8”?

Any thoughs?

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

View CartersWhittling's profile

CartersWhittling

451 posts in 1310 days


#13 posted 753 days ago

If all you were making from the walnut was the bottom I don’t think weight would be much a concern, especially if you make the bottom 5/8” thick. I cannot image a 5/8” bottom (especially made from hardwood) being too weak for the chest. The only weight the bottom holds is your hand planes or whatever else you put on the bottom of the chest.

I think the only real question would be the visual appearance of the walnut. If the only part of your chest that has walnut is the bottom, it will stand out (but it’s a tool chest, who really cares). If you do use walnut though the bottom of the chest will be much darker, and perhaps make it harder to find tools in the bottom of your chest. Although you could always put a few lights under the bottom of your bottom till ;) That would be neat.

-- And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord... Colossians 3:23 http://carterswhittling.wordpress.com/

View RGtools's profile

RGtools

3302 posts in 1290 days


#14 posted 752 days ago

I was considering using walnut for the tray bottoms too since I don’t have any oak at the moment. Your point about the darker woods not contrasting well with the tools and making it harder on the eyes has me thinking that I might need to break down and grab some oak.

Thanks for giving me something to chew on.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

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