A False Start
When I went to the lumber store to buy the 5/4 wood for the top and base I made the mistake of not bringing the plans or dimensions. I ended up making my best guess. When I got home and laid everything out I realized that had bought only enough that I had no margin for error.
The base is 3” high and I had so little wood that I needed to be able to get all four parts of the base from a single board. My widest board was only about 6 1/4” wide. I hoped that after jointing and the saw kerf that I’d get two 3” pieces. Thus I then jointed and planed the board and was lucky enough that it ended up being 6 1/8” wide.
Unfortunately when I ripped the board down to 3” wide the board bent into a slight curve as internal stresses were released. This was one of those rip cuts just seems to happen randomly and one where I was quite thankful for the splitter on my saw.
At this point I should have thrown in the towel on this board but I wanted to see if I could salvage it. I re-jointed it to get one side flat again and then re-ripped it to make the other side parallel. I ended up with boards that were now only 2 5/8” wide instead of 3”. I set them aside for the night and debated things in my head. I really wanted to keep the chest as close as possible to Darrell’s design. However the missing 3/8” was not a trivial amount.
In the end I decided that given the total investment in both money and time in the chest that I wasn’t willing to compromise. Thus I set aside the pieces knowing that I could use at least enough of them for the breadboard ends of the top and headed off to my lumber supplier and bought another board. While there I also bought a spare. I’ve always found that there is nothing like having a spare to ensure you never need it.
Second Time a Charm
With a brand new board I started fresh. This time I ripped it slightly over-sized in case the same thing happened again. I left it overnight and the next day I ripped it to the final 3” width without issue.
Different Joinery Technique
To make the single large finger joint in the base, Darrell’s FWW article describes using a dado blade and clamping the base pieces upright in a crosscut sled. I didn’t have a dado crosscut sled on hand and really didn’t want to make on just for this operation. I thus decided to use the same template technique for the base as was used for the sides. The one side-effect of using the template is the inside of the finger is rounded over instead of square. I decided I could live with this deviation from Darrell’s plans as this was honestly quite hard to see.
I followed the same pattern when making the template of making the finger 1/64 smaller than the gap. This again of course meant making two templates with one template being 1/64” smaller than the other. I made the templates out of plywood and again used the Domino to align them for the glue-up.
I used the templates to mark the cutout locations on each piece and cutout the excess on my bandsaw.
The templates for the sides were held in a holder and routed with a hand-held router. For the base I used double-stick tape to attach the template to the wood and used my router table to do the flush trimming. It was a bit time-consuming but in the end it all worked out quite well.