Carved chest, seventeenth-century style

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Project by jdh122 posted 12-22-2015 01:26 PM 718 views 1 time favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I made this carved chest to give as a retirement present to a colleague at work. It’s based on Peter Follansbee’s seventeenth-century carving DVD from Lie Nielsen. He makes his out of green riven oak, this one is made from yellow birch lumber. Yellow birch carves really well, although it does take pretty vigorous mallet work to carve it. This type of carving is mostly v-gouge work plus about 4-5 curved gouges, all laid out with a compass.

I tried forging my own snipe or gimel hinges (FWW video with Andrew Hunter) but had no success at all. Maybe I had the wrong type of steel rod, but when I tried to bend and clinch after shaping the “cotter pins” they would snap. So instead I made the wooden dowel hinges on the side (pintle hinges?).

This was almost all done with hand tools, except that I used the planer and jointer to glue up the wide boards. Did the fingernail profile on the top with a moving fillister plane and a smoothing plane. The joinery is doweled box joints and the bottom is made from tongue and groove white pine fit into grooves plowed into the sides of the chest. Finished with amber shellac.

I also had to carve the whole thing twice, since the first time I made the half-circles cross each other rather than having one dive behind the other. Didn’t really figure that out until all four sides were carved. Tried to fix it, wondered about living with it, but the look was really wrong. Aargh. Thankfully the boards were thicker than they needed to be: I ran them through the planer until the carving disappeared, re-sharpened my gouges and got back at it.

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

4 comments so far

View helluvawreck's profile


22669 posts in 2286 days

#1 posted 12-22-2015 01:30 PM

You have done a fine job on this chest.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau

View htl's profile


2014 posts in 578 days

#2 posted 12-22-2015 02:44 PM

Nicely done.
I know it was a lot of extra work redoing it but you never would have been happy with it plus you got a lot of extra practice. lol
Got to love them planers they make great erasers.

-- There's a hundred ways to do anything, alot depends on the tools at hand.

View jdh122's profile


878 posts in 2237 days

#3 posted 12-22-2015 06:43 PM

Thanks for the comment.
htl. Once I decided that I needed to re-do it (I first tried lowering down a few places), I had to force myself to plane it all off right away, cause I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep if I left it til the next day. It needed to be done, though.

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

View Joel153's profile


7 posts in 308 days

#4 posted 12-22-2015 08:08 PM

Great job! Having to do it twice to get it right is something I am quite familiar with, but in the end it is always worth it.

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