I wanted a chair for my daughter’s cubby house and was looking to buy something 2nd hand. I came across a chunky pine post in my back shed and inspiration struck. I decided I could make a chest that could provide some storage for toys and double as a bench seat – I also wanted to get my head around this mortise and tenon business.
I marked everything out and cut all of my tenons then cleaned them up with chisels. All hand tools so far, by necessity.
I marked each mortised against it’s unique tenon (unique due to my limited skill not by design). I used a power drill to core out the mortises and chisels to square them.
Then I needed grooves to house the panels and floor. As I only have simple tools I used my dovetail saw to make the grooves and a chisel to widen them. A dry fit helped me determine where I still needed to widen grooves or trim panels.
I shaped the legs by marking a straight length part way down the leg then I took a thin piece of waste wood and bowed it to form the curve of the leg, traced that and cut along the line. The first leg was shaped with a hand saw, coping saw, rasp and sand paper – what a PITA! I dug out my old jigsaw for the remaining three legs, much easier.
I sanded everything prior to glue-up as I found boxes can be difficult to sand once complete. I glued up one end and let it dry just to buy me some time during the main glue-up. It was a little stressful, I get worried when the wood expands and your joints don’t fit anymore. Also my lack of clamps didn’t help but I strapped an old pulley belt around the carcass, protecting the wood from marring with some rags. I tied the belt to a long offcut and wound it really tight, popped a big old brick on top and left it to dry overnight.
Next I needed to square off the top of the carcass. I did this by clamping it to my verandah railing and hand planing the legs flush with the rails. I used a scrap piece behind each leg to avoid chip-out. I used ply for the lid, an offcut I had in my laundry. The fit was good until I mortised the hinges, the lid didn’t want to fit right at the front and the plywood quickly stripped from my repeated insertion and removal of the hinge screws. I eventually bought guage 10 screws and cut them short. The lid still doesn’t quite close at the front on it’s own weight and that sucks but it’s plenty functional for it’s intended purpose. Also as there’s a bit of distance between the front of the lid and the top rail there’s very little chance of getting pinched by this little lid opening. If it was a piece of furniture for the house I would buy a board and make a new lid.