Build Journal: Rustic Hope Chest

I’ve been working out the details of this project in my mind for a while but finally all the pieces have come together. May I present to you: The Rustic Hope Chest.

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I’ve been intrieuged for a while by raised panels, I experimented with them a little, and besides learning a couple lessons (don’t stop to talk to anyone while you are in the middle of glueing the door togeather. even if they are trying to buy a car from you. In an unrelated point, crooked doors are under rated) I couldn’t figuare out how to make them.

But back in February, I went down to mexico to hang out with some friends, and a carpenter showed me how to put together raised panels. (there is a lot more to this story, including an attempt of assassination by mango seed, but this is the part relevent to this build)

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Also, while working at the airport, from time to time, I would load up wooden crates.

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I liked the look of the natural plywood and the simple shape, so after collecting some tools, and watching some YouTube videos, I decided to have a go.

The dimensions for the chest came in part, from the base of a role-around tool chest.

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I  liked the width to height ratio of this tool chest, so I copied those dimensions and added a little to the length.

I started by ripping some 2x4s on the table saw for legs and edging, and I cut my panels out of a 4×8 sheathing.

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After I had the panels cut out, I cut a 15° bevel on them with the table saw.

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I did some test cuts on a piece of scrap to double check everything.

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Not shown: I cut a groove in the legs and trim pieces for the raised panels to fit into.

With all the pieces machined, I started glueing the panels together.

The front

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The lid

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The back

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After the glue set, I put in the side panels and attached the front to the back, and promptly ran out of clamps, so I grabbed some ratchet straps to hold everything together.

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With my pocket hole jig I screwed together a bottom to the chest.

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With everything glued together, I decided I didn’t like how the legs looked, so I flipped the chest over and beveled the feet.

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I made shelf supports and guides with some scrap wood.

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The top shelf is a simple box made from plywood tacked together with some finishing nails.

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I marked out the big curve on the top of the handles with a metal bucket in the shop, and the small curves on the sides are from a paint can.

All in all I think it turned out pretty well.  Here are some photos of the finished product.

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Some final thoughts:

While traveling, I’ve developed a passion for rustic wood working. An arched dome held together only by gravity, or hand hued raised panel doors, each one has its own story.

I’ve also discovered I’m not particularly fond of perfectly polished banisters, or freshly finished oak floors. In their perfection they almost seem sterile.

Distressed wood is different. It doesn’t try to hide beneath layers of stain and polish it presents itself, in its entirety, good and bad.

I bought this plywood with a bunch of other goods from the discount section in the back of Lowes, I didn’t realize until I got it home what rough shape it was in. It was curved to such an extent that when I pulled it out to cut the panels, it stood upright on edge.

I decided not to sand down the panels or fill in any of the cracks. I left all my saw marks and pencil lines.

So here sits the chest waiting to be seen. It is made from wood sold at lost, full of flaws, It is neither square, nor plum. Here it waits to be seen, to be judged,  here it waits.

Take it easy Y’all

Paul

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