Building a small chest for my grandfather’s keepsakes I chose the schoolbox design from the “Joiner and Cabinet Maker” (Lost Art Press). This was a design I was interested in since the first time I read this book at the start of my woodworking adventure in early 2014. I was able to locate some 3/4″ thick, clear eastern white pine at a local lumber yard for this project. It is a great species for hand work and I rather appreciate its looks.
So I began rough dimensioning the stock working from the general information in the book, but made my version a bit wider. I needed to glue up six boards for the piece and I began with those steps. I followed two different methods for the glue-up process. Because the boards for the sides were pretty flat, I matched planned them then established the reference face after glue-up. The wider boards for the top and the bottom were cupped so I established my reference face and edge then gluing up the boards. Both methods worked; the match planing was quickest and helped to maximize the final thickness when the boards were flat enough to begin with. After the liquid hide glue was dry, I worked all pieces to a uniform thickness and cut and planed them to final dimensions.
I started with the carcass first and sawed the tails after layout of the dovetails. Cleaned up the tails with a coping saw and chisels. I then set to work on the matching pin boards. After dovetail glue-up and carcass trimming, I chose to build the interior till. The book shows this step follows attaching the bottom but that seemed like it would make the process more difficult, so I crafted the pieces for the till and fit them before attaching the bottom with headless brad cut nails. I cut the stopped dados with my back saw and pared material between these sawn walls with a chisel. I had planned to clean the final depth with my router plane but it was to big to effectively get the entire joint, so a chisel it was. Worked fine and fit well. After fitting the till wall to length and the till bottom, I glued and nailed the two pieces together. Then I planed the width of each piece to make everything flush upon assembly.
The moulding was the next part to fashion. I stuck the moulding on the entire length of the top and bottom pieces before cutting mitres. To do this, I needed to build a small sticking board to help hold the moulding while planning. The book suggests a chamfer, but I had a 3/8″ ogee plane that seemed a good profile and size. After the mouldings were stuck, I followed the book’s recommended method for attachment; cutting and planing the front piece, mitreing the side pieces to match while leaving them long toward the back and trimming to length once the pieces were glued and nailed.
The next step was to cut the top to the correct dimensions. It was cut to have a 1/16″ to 1/8″ overhang on the front and sides of the carcass (this facilitates easy opening and closing of the hinged top). After trimming and planing the top, the moulding was attached. For attaching the top to the carcass, I went with the hinge recommendation given by Chris Schwarz in a follow-up article to the book. These from Whitechapel Ltd. were of great quality and were a pleasure to install. Touch ups with the smoothing plane and sanding of the mouldings prepped the piece for finishing. Two coats of Danish oil followed with “sanding” with a brown paper bag and a coat of wax completed the piece.