One of the aspect’s of Marc Spagnuolo’s guild videos that I like is his discussions of board selection for projects. He always gives a good discussion regarding choosing boards of similar colour and the important consideration of grain direction and appearance. In his blanket chest he made the effort to have a three-side grain match. After seeing his completed chest as well as various pictures of Darrell’s chests I decided this wasn’t really that noticeable. Thus I didn’t go for the three-sided match and instead concentrated on keeping the board colour and grain appearance consistent on each side. My wood was good but not perfect so I also had to consider which faces of the lumber would be on the inside and which ones on the outside of the finished chest.
I did follow Marc’s method of using Dominos when glueing up panels. I find that not having to worry about boards slipping side-to-side or up-and-down during the glue up to be one of the great uses of the Domino. Before cutting the Dominos I finished the edges on the panels with my low-angle, bevel-up jack plane. The jointer marks were visible and the plane cleaned them up nicely.
Here is the completed set of glued up panels.
I then cut them to width and then length. I do all my crosscuts on my tablesaw and my Incra Express easily handled the 12” (approx.) wide panels.
The next step was to jigsaw out the bulk of the waste between the fingers. I’m terrible at staying away from marked lines – my brain wants to follow them. Thus when I need to cut something like 1/8” on the side of a line I prefer to draw a second line that I can follow. Thus I put the template on top of each board and did a light tracing. I then took a square and penciled in lines 1/8” inside them to give my guidelines for jigsawing. Next I did a practice run using my Ridgid jigsaw. It went terrible as I cut over the lines and even into what would have been the fingers. This obviously wasn’t something I wanted to have happen on my real work pieces.
I must admit I initially blamed the fact that it is hard to see the blade path on my Ridgid jigsaw so I spent a couple of hours seriously debating buying a Festool Carvex jigsaw. It is always fun to research and ponder new tool purchases. However eventually common sense came to me when I realized I was considering spending over $500 for a tool I already for the sole reason of the Festool being ‘likely’ easier to follow the line. I figured that I really needed to just learn how to best use the tools I had. My solution was to use my bandsaw to cut the main lines using a stop block clamped to my bandsaw table. I then used the jigsaw to simply cut away the rest of the waste. I setup a good task light so I could see and took my time and paid close attention to the location of the jigsaw blade. They were soon quickly done and I didn’t cut into any of the fingers.
With the bulk of the waste now removed I clamped each piece into the template jig and routed away the remaining with a 1/4” spiral bit. I must admit I don’t often use my router outside the router table and I forgot how much dust a router can create. It also didn’t help that at first I didn’t hook up any dust collection to my Porter Cable router. I spewed a ton of dust to the back of my workbench before I smartened up. However I soon got them all done.