Building a Blanket Chest   David Weissman

Day 1  Get Lumber and Cut to Size  March 30, 2017
Day 1  Get Lumber and Cut to Size  March 30, 2017
Day 1  Get Lumber and Cut to Size  March 30, 2017
Day 2  Cutting Mortises and Grooves

Today's work is to mill the grooves and mortises in the stiles (the vertical pieces) in the blanket chest.  The mortises will allow mating rails to fit together while the stiles will be connected by tongue and groove joints.  I choose to use a router, mounted on a router table to mill all the grooves and mortises.  The router is nothing more than a motor connected to a shaping bit.  There are hundreds of different bits available, but for today I use the most simple bit, the "straight bit".  My router is shown at right, for today's work the router is mounted underneath the white table with only the bit protruding about the table.

The first step is the mill the groves that go down the entire length of the stile.

The next step is to mill the mortises that will accept tenons from matching rails.  Each stile needs two mortises, one for the top rail and one for the bottom rail.

Oops--my mind wandered just a bit when setting up the second mortise and I positioned the wood incorrectly--the defect was filled by cutting a matching piece of cheery and gluing into place.  This side of the wood will not be visible--no harm, no foul.

Learn basics in using a router by watching Norm Abrams in the first of a two part You Tube video.  Woodcraft has router classes providing real hands on experience.

Now that the mortises and grooves are milled, its time to make the matching tenons and tongues--I used the table saw to cut these.  Step one was to cut the cheeks for the tongues. Followed by turning the wood 90 degrees and cutting the shoulders.

Day 3  Tenons and Tongues

Here is the finished tongue-groove joint

Next step is to cut the tenons-this is a three-step process on the table saw to cut the shoulders, cheeks and final length. To cut the cheeks I am using a commercial tenon jig to safely hold the wood; note: there are many plans for inexpensive home-made jigs.

The last step is to use a knife to trim off the square ends of the tenon to fit into the round mortise and then test fit each joint, making small adjustments using a plane and chisel to ensure proper fit.

The Table Saw is at the heart of most woodshops.  Learn table saw safety principles and basic aspects of using a table saw in these two videos.

Day 4 ...30 + Putting it all together

I was laid up with the flu for several weeks--once recovered I started work again.  Once all the mortise, tenons, grooves and tongues were cut, a few final steps before test fit and final assembly of the case.  The bottom corner of the stiles was cut off on a band saw.

The six panels that fit inside the rails and stiles were assembled by glueing together solid cherry boards and cutting to final dimensions. A rabbet was cut on all four sides--this inserts into the grooves on the stiles and rails. The inside edges were cut on the table saw at 45 degrees to provide a cleaner inside profile.

Each side of the chest was then assembled, test fit and glued using synthetic hide glue. This picture is of the inside of the front panel before and during application of an oil-based neutral stain to bring out the cherry wood color.  The insides were oiled before final assembly.

Here is the complete chest.  Last Step will be to construct the top--stay tuned.

The bottom of the chest is a 1/2 sheet of plywood that rests on 1 inch by 1 inch cleats screwed into the bottom of the rails.

Cleats

Rabbet

Table saw blade at 45 degrees

Final Steps

The top is made by selecting and glueing four cherry boards together, then cutting to final length.  The top is attached to the chest by a 35 inch piano hinge.

Last step is to add 1/4 inch cedar boards for a moth-proof chest.

And the blanket chest is done, ready for years of use.

© 2019 Milwaukee Craft Guild

milwcraftguild@gmail.com

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