Cranky Sailor Workshop - The retirement chest

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Blog series by DynaBlue updated 06-08-2011 01:31 AM 9 parts 13585 reads 17 comments total

Part 1: Initial Stages

05-23-2011 06:43 PM by DynaBlue | 1 comment »

One of my prior Command Master Chiefs flattered my by requesting I build his retirement present, a ‘sea chest’ which would hold not only his shadowbox but also his collection of challenge coins and uniform items. We discussed general plans a few times until I showed him a nice blanket chest from a 2010 Woodworker’s Journal. He wasn’t sure about the arched configuration at first but after reflection it grew on him and I was underway! I love quartersawn oak but ...

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Part 2: First cuts, first changes

05-23-2011 07:17 PM by DynaBlue | 3 comments »

I went out and started hunting up some ash, not too hard to find but I needed to maximize the straight grain as I wanted the frame material to only be the supporting player and to give the lid and panels the starring role. My first choice was quartersawn mahogany since it has a nice ribbon pattern. The ash sat in my shop for several weeks to adjust to its new home and then I started cutting. Another note on this design. I like the joinery..complex joints, not taken one by one, but when ta...

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Part 3: Routers and panels and tearout, oh my!

05-23-2011 07:39 PM by DynaBlue | 4 comments »

I hate routers. There, I’ve said it. Oh, for you fanboys, I freely admit that routers CAN do a wonderful job and many things they do are almost impossible to accomplish easily by hand. Even so, I hate them and avoid using them whenever possible. They are of the devil and, for all their benefits, are THE fastest way to ruin pieces of wood. The panels, you see, are free floating in grooves routed on the curved surfaces of the arches. Really the only good way I could make them was wi...

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Part 4: Hiding your mistakes

05-23-2011 08:22 PM by DynaBlue | 1 comment »

My father, another avid woodworker, has told me on many occasions: The mark of a craftsman isn’t NOT making mistakes, it’s all about the skill in hiding them. Or something like that. So now that I have my panels dryfitted I started patting myself on the back. Great job, Blue! Look at how the panels fit into the grooves nicely, mate up with the grooves in the rails so neatly and the even have space to float slightly. See..I can move them back and forth slightly so that humidi...

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Part 5: Finish follies

05-23-2011 08:47 PM by DynaBlue | 0 comments »

Prefinishing the panels was a given due to the fact that they are a free floating trapped panel. If they’d been finished in place then humidity changes would have caused them to swell and shrink beyond the position they were assembled in and left me an ugly witness line. That wouldn’t do at all. Another consideration is the stink. Oil finishing leaves an aroma for weeks or months until the finish finally cures and all the solvent is gone. That isn’t such an issue on the...

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Part 6: The top

05-23-2011 09:21 PM by DynaBlue | 2 comments »

The top is 1 1/4” thick, 26” x 46” (I think) made up of 5 glued up planks of sapele and two breadboard ends. I have an 18-36” drum sander but am leery of the flatness once you flip a piece to sand past the 18” point. Fortunately there is a cabinet shop here in Nat’l City that has been very friendly to me and he offered to run the top through his 30” oscillating belt sander for a very reasonable rate. I told him that I’d get it as flat as poss...

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Part 7: More repairs and finally the sides

05-23-2011 09:37 PM by DynaBlue | 2 comments »

Remember that corner the router ate? Well that just wasn’t going to be allowed to stand. I had to use a chisel to cut back to a straight shoulder and find some ash of the right color and grain to cut another corner from. It’s pretty good. The first pictures show the patch slightly fat so I had material to flush sand: And now sanded and with finish on it: Here is that repaired splined miter post: Just oil sanding the sides now. Eight more days of WOOHOO!

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Part 8: Putting it together

06-08-2011 01:04 AM by DynaBlue | 2 comments »

Well, I’ve spent the past while in sanding and oiling and rubbing, oh my! The oil finish on the ash colored up nicely and the top was pretty smooth. I moved to the 0000 steel wool and dark paste wax treatment today and what a difference that made! Smooth turned to glassy smooth and the box just looks wonderful. The grain in the ash picked up some of the dark wax and added a bit of detail that just went the extra mile. Yep, I’m happy with it. While I was waiting for the fin...

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Part 9: The coin box

06-08-2011 01:31 AM by DynaBlue | 2 comments »

The retiree has collected many challenge coins over his career and he wanted a way to display them all. I designed a tray that can be removed for display or stored inside the chest. When we first talked about the tray I didn’t know exactly how many coins he had so I just worked up the design for 2 1/16” square openings with 1/4” dividers which gave me 135 coin slots. Turns out he has about 80 coins so I guess he better start collecting some more! I wanted the tray to tie...

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