Before starting this project, I wanted to ensure that I fully understood the plans and all the work required.
In terms of fully understanding the plans this involved reading and re-reading the article by Darrell Peart in FWW several times. I wanted to ensure I was intimately familiar with all the components, their details, how to make them and how to put them together. As I looked over the plans and went over each part in my mind I realized there were a couple of parts of the plans and instructions that weren’t completely clear to me. The plans did not show the radius of the roundover on the lid as well as the mitred frame around the base. Additionally there were a couple of parts of the written instructions that didn’t include photos and I wasn’t clear on. Finally the article showed using a router with a wing cutter to cut the slots for the splines on the lid, but there was no description of the width.
Now I’m sure most woodworkers would just make educated guesses at these items and continue. However I wanted to be as true as possible to the design as well as challenge myself to see if I could build the chest exactly as described. To try and get more information, I emailed the editorial staff at FWW with my questions. Within two days I got a response. The editor at FWW forwarded my questions to Darrell who very kindly sent an in-depth response to all my questions and even included several additional photographs to help clarify some of the points.
For someone who may have the same questions, I’ll go over my questions and the answers:
Roundover on all parts of lid – 1/8” roundover
Roundover on mitred frame of base – 1/4” roundover
Spline size and mortise dimensions – The spline cavity is 1/2” deep – that’s a standard depth of 3-wing cutters. The thickness of the spline is 5/16”. The length is 5”. Make the spine itself a bit wider than 1/2” so it can be trimmed to be 1/16” proud of the surface after it’s installed.
One part of the article without a photograph described shaping of the fingers on the base – “To visually suggest that the base fingers bear the chest’s weight, I pillow their shape slightly by sanding with a folded piece of P80-grit paper”. I didn’t fully follow this and Darrell responded with both some more information as well as a photo:
The face of the finger is pillowed.
Finally when fitting the faux leather straps, the article described –
“To make sure each strap fits perfectly on the base, I use another sandpaper trick. On the edge of the case bottom, where the strap will be applied, I stick a narrow strip of P80-grit, adhesive sandpaper. In the same location, on the face of the base, I tape a piece of nonadhesive sandpaper, with its back facing out.”. I had a hard time understanding this so Darrell also gave further information and another photo:
What is being described is the final shaping of the “glue side” of the strap, so the straps meet with the “base sides” and “base ends”, and chest sides with no gaps. The sandpaper trick accomplishes this by removing just the appropriate amount. In the attached photo I use a piece of card stock against the base side instead of reversed sandpaper as a spacer to equal the thickness of the sticky- back (PSA) sandpaper that’s above it. I rub the strap side to side to sand the top “45 degree return” portion of the strap until it’s a perfect fit against the base and side.
I was really impressed by both the responses by FWW and Darrell Peart. It was very nice of them to help a beginner woodworker such as myself with this additional information.