Category Archives: Furniture

Blanket Chest – The Wrap-Up

Did you think I had run away?  No such luck.  The Mississippi summer heat rendered wood finishing nearly impossible in a non-climate-controlled shop.  Sweat dripping on freshly-applied dye or shellac almost invariably results in a re-do of that step, so I had to find periods of cool to get this project (literally) finished.  However, the end has finally come.

When we left off last time, the top had been routed, and everything was ready to be finished.  Like most woodworkers, I’d rather be building than finishing, and painting ranks at the bottom of my list, somewhere behind a root canal.  Nevertheless, the body of the blanket chest received a coat of primer, followed by two coats of Porter gloss white, which matches our interior house trim.  You’ll recall that I pre-primed the panel bevels prior to assembly to prevent bare wood peep-out when (not if) the panels shrink.  If the paint had been a different color, I would have applied a coat of that as well.  Of course, you have the same problem later if you re-paint in a different color, but I digress.

Now it was time for the top, the only part that would really look like wood.  Since the rest of our bedroom furniture is some variant of Golden Oak (I know, I know), I had decided to use the same color on the red oak top.  For jobs like this, when the piece will be shaded from the sun, aniline dye is my hands-down coloring agent of choice.  I used Trans-Tint’s Golden Brown, mixing 1/2 tablespoon to a cup of water.  After two coats, the results didn’t seem very impressive:

Blanket Chest 45

Don’t worry, it gets better.  Dyes, and wood in general, always look a bit drab prior to the addition of the topcoat.  That’s when the magic happens.  In this case, I applied five thin coats of Zinsser Bulls-Eye Shellac, and followed that with a rub-down with paste wax and steel wool to smooth things and remove a bit of the gloss.  I generally prefer a more subdued sheen for most projects, and find that it stands up to wear a bit better.

Blanket Chest 46

Here’s the same wood with the shellac applied.  Neat, eh?  Like I said, Golden Oak isn’t my favorite, but it matches the rest of the furniture that my wife picked out.  Need I say more?

One of the beauties of shellac is that it can be easily renewed by a light sanding and re-application of another coat over the top of the old.  The alcohol allows the two layers to dissolve together, becoming homogeneous.  This prevents the flaking that can occur when top-coating polyurethane.  Of course, don’t spill your alcoholic drinks on it, or you’ve got a problem.

Blanket Chest 47

And now, the moment of truth.  Here is the finished product in it’s intended home, at the foot of the master bed.

What do you think?  It’s a little taller than my wife expected, being a bit high for her to sit on, and I reminded her that the height was to her specifications.  Talk about an argument-settler!  Besides, it’ll hold more. However, I think a slightly shorter design would have looked better in this location.  The width and depth worked out well, leaving a good path between it and the dresser directly across the gap.

However, to my eye, the overall color scheme misses the mark – reminds me of a church pew.  Of course, the paint can be easily changed if an alternative color scheme suggests itself.  As for the top, while the color doesn’t match the bed very well, it’s a near-perfect match for the rest of the furniture.  Also, it can be easily changed out at a later date to give the piece a different look – breadboard, frame-and-panel, stained, painted, you name it.  The chest itself should be good for a century or two – I hope.

I also hope you’ve enjoyed this project.  Blanket chests designs are a dime a dozen, but the point of this exercise was to design and build the piece from scratch to perfectly fit a particular application.  If you have been encouraged to try your hand at your own designs, this project will have done its job.

More projects are in the wings, and things will speed back up as the weather cools down, so stay tuned!

Blanket Chest – Topping It Off

As I mentioned previously, the top of the blanket chest will be made from red oak, to match the rest of the furniture in the bedrooom.  Red oak is not one of my favorite woods – far from it.  In fact, it would be near the bottom of the list of woods I like to use.  Its open grain and proneness to tear-out make it frustrating to work.  Unfortunately, it’s one of the more common woods in our area, so I often have to just set my jaw and plow ahead.

Due to surface flaws, I ended up having to plane my stock closer to 3/4″ than the 7/8″ that I wanted.  This wasn’t a problem, though.  The lid stands alone as a design element, and edge shaping makes the thickness harder to discern anyway.  I won’t bore you with the details of gluing up the panel from the individual boards – there are plenty of tutorials out there on that.  I planned on a 5/8″ overhang on all sides, making it slightly smaller than the size of the base.  It has been my experience that this generally gives a more balanced proportion than making top and bottom the same size, which tends to look a bit top-heavy.

Blanket Chest 41

The overall panel width was just a bit too wide for my crosscut sled, so I had to find an alternative means to crosscut to final length.  While some would use a jig with a circular saw or something similar, I chose a more direct approach.  I drew a line, and cut to it with a 12pt. panel saw.  A quick cut, followed by clean-up with a jack plane, and I was through by the time most people could have found wood for the jig.  Even if you’re not a serious hand-tool woodworker, the ability to accurately cross-cut to a line with a handsaw is a skill that should be in everyone’s repertoire.

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There are lots of different router bits on the market, many with exorbitant price tabs, but following Matthew Bickford’s blog has gotten me to thinking of complex molding shapes in terms of combinations of hollows and rounds.  Even if you can’t afford a set of matching hollow and round planes, you can apply a lot of the principles with a few simple router bits and an edge guide. Not only can you duplicate many existing bits’ profiles, but you can customize things to get the exact profile you want.

My wife wanted a molded edge treatment on the lid, so I played with some options till I came up with something she liked.  Her favorite was a combination of a small cove with a larger roundover.  I started by cutting a sample, then she would take a pencil and sketch in modifications on the end of the board until she was pleased with the outcome.  In the photo above, I started with a cove and roundover combination on the edge, and she suggested changes.  She finally settled on the innermost style.  The roundover has been brought up and in to make it a larger part of the overall profile, while the cove was made a bit smaller to act as more of an accent.  To achieve this, I switched from a 3/8″ to a 1/2″ roundover bit, and cut with it low enough that the guide bearing actually hung off below the edge of the wood to yield only a part of the curved shape.

Blanket Chest 44

I’ve used this D-handled Porter Cable for years, and it’s a favorite of mine.  The addition of a good-quality edge guide allows you to place individual design elements exactly where you want them, instead of being limited by a bit profile.  In the photo above, the basic roundover cut is being “lowered” into place, and then the cove will be cut with a small core box bit  where you see the large shoulder above the roundover.  As mentioned above, the fence of the edge guide lets me run the bit without registering the bearing on the surface, and lets me use partial arcs as part of my design.

Notice also in the photo above the presence of an offset base.  I cannot recommend one of these highly enough.  One of the biggest concerns when doing edge treatments with a handheld router is tipping.  I don’t care how good you are, the darn things seem to want to tip and ruin your work.  Adding a heavy edge guide like the one I have increases the odds of that past the point of acceptability.  The offset base lets you hold the router firmly to the work, so you concentrate on other things like keeping the fence snug to the wood, and proper entry and exit from the cut.  Buy one or make one, but by all means, get one.

Blanket Chest 44

After the edge was routed, I put the lid in place on the body for a look.  All in all, not bad!  All that remains is to paint the body and stain and finish the top.  It won’t be long now!  Stay tuned!

Blanket Chest – A Firm Foundation

The base of the chest was intended from the start to be simple.  My wife didn’t want any feet, openings, or anything of the kind.  She just wanted a simple base or skirt of the type you’d find on a tool chest.  And what mama wants, mama gets.  Besides, what could be easier?

Having read Christopher Schwarz’s The Anarchist’s Tool Chest, I chose to dovetail the base, rather than using miter joints.  This chest would sit on carpet at the foot of the bed, and be dragged back and forth when vacuuming.  Due to this, I felt the extra strength of dovetails would be worth the trouble.  There’s no point in going into the details of cutting through-dovetails – that has been covered by others ad nauseum.  I will, however, cover my technique for getting tight-fitting wrap-arounds with dovetails in my next article.

Blanket Chest 36

I decided on cutting my base 3 1/2″ wide.  This was done by the scientific approach of laying different widths of wood up against the bottom of the chest and, with my wife’s input, deciding which one looked best.  Once the dovetails were cut, the same approach was used to determine how far the base should overlap the bottom of the chest.  We settled on a 2 7/8″ reveal before applying the cove molding.  Yes, that’s almost the entire width of the frame.  However, there are still the bottom boards that project below the frame to be taken into consideration.

Blanket Chest 37

I cut internal supports for the chest from whatever plywood was handy around the shop, and believe me, my pile is as bad as anyone’s.  After ripping to width, they were glued and brad-nailed into place.  As you can see, there’s still an adequate amount of recess to make everything secure.

Blanket Chest 38

Then, the dovetails were glued together around the chest, and the base was attached to the bottom boards with pocket screws.  As we know, in cabinet construction, there’s primary wood, and secondary wood.  But, as the above picture shows, there’s also tertiary wood.  This is one case where your ugliest plywood is perfectly acceptable.

Blanket Chest 39

Here you can see the base fully assembled with the dovetails planed down.  The construction, as it stands, is perfectly acceptable.  However, there’s a certain starkness to it, as though something is missing.

Blanket Chest 40

That’s where the molding comes in.  It adds that needed transition, and harmonizes with the smaller cove molding around the panels.  If I had been using a clear finish, I would have used 23 gauge pins.  However, a painted finish allowed the use of spackling compound, so I stuck with the bigger brad nails and glue.

That finishes the body of the blanket chest!  Now, it’s time to turn my attention back to the lid.  Stay tuned!

Blanket Chest – Raising Panels

Blanket Chest 13

A frame isn’t much good without panels to put in it (frame-AND-panel, right?), and this project needs eight of them.  In this case, I decided to make them 5/8″ thick.  This allowed the raised surface to be flush with the outside face of the frame, while the flat back simplified construction and reduced overall weight.  With this in mind, I had previously planed selected boards to thickness, stickered them, and let them relax.  Now, parallel to fitting up the frame, I had glued up the boards into oversize panels, ready for trimming to size.

Blanket Chest 14

I love Old Brown Glue liquid hide glue for this sort of work.  To me, once it has fully cured, it’s easier to remove to remove the squeeze-out than with yellow glues.  Also, it seems to form less gummy residue on my scrapers, and is transparent to stain and finishes.  Yes, I know my scraper’s getting dull, there’s a sharp one laying to the side, and they were swapped right after the photo.

Blanket Chest 18

Once the panels were cut to final size, it was time to cut the raised panel profile.  In a previous post, I went into my process for designing the panels, and this was where I put that design to work.  I dropped my panel-raising jig onto my tablesaw fence and used my prototype raised panel to set the height and bevel of my saw blade.  Then, after tweaking the fence position to yield the desired edge thickness, I cut all the bevels.  Note the quick clamp on the front edge of the panel.  This helped to counteract any tendency to cup or lift as I cut.

Blanket Chest 19

No matter how hard I tried, some of the corners were off a bit.  This is one place where accuracy counts because, if the line doesn’t hit the corner of the panel, it won’t hit the corner of the frame.  While there are many places where little variances won’t be noted, this isn’t one of them.

Blanket Chest 20

For me, the easiest way to correct this is with a sanding block.  This is simply a matter of working toward the end until the ridge creeps into the corner.  This only takes a few minutes, and makes a big difference in the overall appearance.

Blanket Chest 21

With the panels finished, you can now see how all the pieces will go together.  Now, it’s just a matter of final fitting everything and gluing up the subassemblies.

Stay tuned!

Blanket Chest – Framed

Blanket Chest 11

Once all of the mortises were chopped, it was time to start final fitting of the joints.  The first step is to decide which rails and stiles will go together to make a subassembly.  As I had selected stock for the various pieces, I kept in mind that the back side of the chest would be up against the end of the bed (or later a wall, perhaps), and parts with “issues” could go there.  Even though this chest will be painted, it’s a good habit to develop, since some blemishes can still show through.  My outfeed table was the perfect place for the selection process, as I could lay out a whole assembly for inspection, while keeping the other parts neatly stacked and organized to one side.

Blanket Chest 12

As I’ve said before, staying organized is of paramount importance on a complex project such as this.  Since all the joints are hand-cut, the matching components are hand-fitted to each other, making each pair unique.  To keep confusion at bay, I clearly number each joint pair, so that they stay oriented to each other all the way to glue-up.  Also, note the “X” on the bottom of the rail.  This denotes the edge where the haunch will be cut – more insurance.

This is also a good place to point out the answer to a question from a reader regarding how I cut my tenons.  The bottom face of the tenon in the above phto has the spacing I strive for – cutting just on the outside of the penciled groove, rather than splitting it.  The upper face is actually a bit on the “fat” side, and will require more work to bring it into line.  This task is accomplished with my router plane, as explained in a previous article.

Corner Detail

With all the rails and stiles fitted, it was time to address the corner joints.  As I mentioned previously, I decided on tongue-and-groove joinery to join the side frames to the end ones.  On reflection, reversing the joint so that the tongue on the face, and the groove is on the end wound have resulted in a stronger joint.  However, orienting the joint as shown will give less chance of a seam showing on the face.  Like most things in life, it’s a trade-off.

Blanket Chest 15

The first step was to cut the grooves.  Why?  Because I’m using a plow plane that has a fixed-width blade.  This is a good basic principle of hand tool work.  Whenever possible, perform the operation that utilizes a fixed tool first, then fit the other part to it.  When mortising, chop the mortise, then fit the tenon.  When making framed panels, cut the groove, then fit the panel to it.  You get the idea.

By the way, make sure you cut the grooves on the inside face of the stile.  Just sayin’.

Blanket Chest 16

With the grooves cut, I turned my attention to the tongues.  Fortunately, they were to be centered on the end of the stile, with a 1/4″ shoulder on each side (1/4″+1/4″+3/8″=7/8″).  I set the depth stop on the rabbet plane to leave the tenon just a bit fat, and did the final trim with a shoulder plane.  Rabbet and plow plane depth stops tend to slip, and should not be overly trusted.  Recheck the settings frequently as you work.  The astute among you will notice that I have sloped my tenon slightly from shoulder to edge.  I noticed this myself, and quickly corrected, paying more attention as I went forward to avoid a repetition.

Blanket Chest 17

Once all of the tongue-and-grooves had been cut, it was time for the first dry-up.  This is the time to walk around and take note of the things that need fine tuning, trying to get everything lined up before actual assembly.

Rabbet Plane Curlies

Now it’s time to turn our attention to other aspects of the project.  The panels have to be made, and I’ve got a couple of jigs to build.  But, in the meantime, it’s time to sweep up, and get rid of all the skew plane shavings left behind.

Stay tuned!

Blanket Chest – Shouldering On.

Now that the stock was dimensioned, the easy part was over – it was time for the joinery.

Blanket Chest 4

As I mentioned previously, I had thicknessed my stock to 7/8″.  The reason for this was to have a 1/4″ groove 1/4″ in from the back (inside) face of the frame, leaving 3/8″ on the front (outside) face.  Since I was planning on using applied 1/4″ x 1/4″ moldings to dress up the frame/panel joint, this would yield an extra 1/8″ “step” at the top of the molding for more visual interest.  After plowing a groove in a piece of test stock with the plow plane, I carefully transferred this spacing to my marking gauge in preparation for cutting the tenons.

Blanket Chest 5

I have a confession to make:  I’m terrible at sawing tenon shoulders by hand.  Cheeks are no problem, but my shoulders are hit or miss.  Yes, I know I need more practice – I’m a bad galoot.  But, for now, with 24 tenons to cut, I didn’t need to be making mistakes.  So, with my tenons marked, I dropped my crosscut sled into place and set up to cut the shoulders on the tablesaw.  This is still a tricky business.  Remember, the tenons are offset towards the inside surface of the frame members.  That means two separate setups, two series of cuts, and 12 chances to cut the shoulder on the wrong side, since each component has a tenon on each end.  Never has good parts-marking and workflow organization been more crucial.

Blanket Chest 6

Ah!  Success!  Some of the shoulders are cut on all four sides, and some are cut on only three.  The four-sided ones are for the internal stiles that separate the panels on the long sides, while the three-sided ones are the rails.  Since these will go into through-grooves in the stiles, they will have a haunched tenon to fill the gap.  The rough-cut version of one of these is shown below:

Sawing Tenons 6

The haunch will be cut later during the fitting process.

Blanket Chest 7

As I said, I planned to cut the tenons by hand.  So, it was time to get to sawing.  24 tenons later, I had a pile of rough-cut joinery all ready for final fitting.  Surprisingly, though, I wasn’t that tired, as my Bad Axe large tenon saw makes short and easy work of such things.

Stay tuned!

Blanket Chest – Dimensioning the Stock

Yes, believe it or not, I’m back on the blanket chest!  After taking a couple of side jaunts to the Herman-style sawbench and the Krenov-style sawhorses (sawbents), I’ll bet you thought I had forgotten about it.  Don’t worry, there was no chance of that (my wife wouldn’t let me if I wanted to).

Blanket Chest 1

When we last left this project, the rough poplar lumber had been skip-planed, stickered, and allowed to acclimate to the shop.  Now, weeks later, it was time to stand it all up and take a good look at it.  At times like these, it’s good to have a cavernous building with a loft to lean your wood against.  This allows me to inspect it all at once, and decide on how to break it down into rough pieces.

In the last blanket chest post, I had established the rough pieces that I would need for the project.  Now, it was a matter of looking at the widths of the individual boards, and figuring the best way to cut them to the required rough parts.  There is more art to this than science, but the process was eased by the fact that everything would be painted.  Also, as you can see, the boards were all very clear of defects, though with considerable color variation.

For this phase, I picked out just the pieces for the frames.  The primary goal was to get two 3″-wide frame components from the width of each board.  All components were effectively matched pairs, so rough crosscutting would yield a pair of matching components with each pass, reducing waste.  Since all of the boards were over 6″ wide, this was a matter of picking the narrower boards for the frame components, and saving the wider boards for the panels.

Blanket Chest 2

After crosscutting to rough and in some cases generous length, I ripped the wide boards to a rough width of 3 1/2″.  After that, it was back through the planer for a final thickness of 7/8″.  Why rip before planing?  This approach makes it easier to remove any bow from the stock, as the narrower boards will flex less in the planer, in many cases eliminating the need to hand-plane a flat face first.  Also, less stock needs to be removed to produce a flat surface, as shown in the diagram in the grooving plane series.  From this point on, even though I didn’t sticker them, I kept the stock stored on-edge on the outfeed table to equalize moisture exchange on both sides.

After this, all stock was ripped to 3″ in width, ensuring good, clean edges, and then cut to final length.  The last step was to cut four of the stiles to a width of 2 1/2″. These pieces will have the 3/8″ tongue portion of the tongue-and-groove joints that will join the frames together at the corners, and have to be narrower to give the appearance of a 3″ width when the two stiles are glued together.

Corner Detail

The math is:

3″ total width – 7/8″ for grooved stile thickness = 2 1/8″

2 1/8″ + 3/8″ tongue length = 2 1/2″

Therefore, when the 3/8″ tongue is inserted in its matching groove, the 2 1/8″ visible width, combined with the 7/8″ thickness of the front stile, will yield a total visible surface of 3″, matching the width of the front stile.

  • Blanket Chest 3

The frame stock is shown in the photo above and, from the left, consists of:

  1. Four long rails for the sides.
  2. Four short rails for the ends.
  3. Four wide corner stiles for the sides.
  4. Four narrow corner stiles for the ends.
  5. Four inside stiles for the sides.

The next step will be to start the joinery.  Stay tuned.

Blanket Chest – The Lumber Arrives At Last!

Stickered Poplar

It’s finally here!  After interrupting errands, bad weather, and a week-long trip to Disney World, the lumber for the blanket chest has finally arrived!

I had decided on yellow poplar, and asked the lumber yard for some fat 4/4 stock, so that I can get a full 7/8″ thickness after final planing.  They obliged with the above boards, which are actually almost 1 1/8″ thick – perfect for my requirements.  The boards are all 9-10′ in length, and range from 6 3/4″ to 10″ in width.  All were chosen to allow me to easily get multiples of 3″ widths from them.  Since the chest will be painted, the mix of heartwood and sapwood is not a concern.  The final total was 41.5 bd. ft.  This might be a bit of overkill, but it never hurts to have some poplar laying around the shop, so I’m sure it won’t go to waste.

Since the climate of the lumberyard shed is practically identical to my shop, I’m not too worried about an initial acclimation, and decided to proceed straight to skip-planing.  This will remove the outer surface of the board, and allow the wood to stabilize prior to final planing to thickness.  You can see from the photo below the length of the boards as they are readied for planing.  I’ll let them rest stacked and stickered for a few weeks, and go on to other projects while I let the wood do whatever movement it plans on doing.  Then, it’ll be time to get busy.  Stay tuned!
Poplar Ready to Plane

Blanket Chest Design – Mix and Match Moldings

Well, I’ve gotten side-tracked by life, and have yet to make it to the lumber yard.  Not to worry, there are still things to think about in the meantime.  One of the biggest design elements left to work out is the molding on the edge of the panel frames.  One of the most widely-accepted ways of doing this is with a matched set of door-making bits for the router table.  However, I’m not personally inclined to this approach.  It locks you into one molding style for each set of bits purchased (and they ain’t cheap!), and setup can be very tedious.  That’s fine if you have a commercial shop, but it just doesn’t suit my temperament and penchant for hybrid woodworking.  Besides, I believe a traditional mortise-and-tenon joint is much stronger overall.

Applied Molding Detail

My plan is to use applied moldings.  I mentioned in a previous post that I hope to be able to wind up with finished stock that is 7/8″ thick, rather than the standard 3/4″.  This will allow me to place a 1/4″ groove 1/4″ from the back face, and have 3/8″ thickness on the front face.  This will give me plenty of room to use custom made applied moldings, and even have a small rabbet shoulder at the top edge for effect if I desire.  The mortise-and-tenon joints will be centered in the grooves.

Panel Trim 2

Applied moldings have several advantages over rail-and-stile bit sets.  First, you can custom-craft your edge effect on the fly.  In the picture above, you can see four test pieces that I made just using bits laying around the router table.  The combinations are limited only by your imagination and budget for bits.  Router bits of this size, are far cheaper than their larger cousins.  This means more bang for the same buck.  Secondly, the applied pieces can, if used carefully, cover any gaps in your casework, and make for a smoother look.  Last, but certainly not least, a mistake in joinery won’t cost you nearly as much here.  If you mess up a molding, simply make another to fit.  You should, by the way, cut extras – it’s not hard.

Cutting Molding

The important thing to remember is that small moldings are cut from big stock.  Use your router bit to cut the desired profile in the corner of a larger piece of wood.  Then, make cuts with your tablesaw to release the molding from the stock.  I’ve found that I get better results with stock that is slightly longer than the finished pieces.  This seems to yield better results than by using long stock and cutting to length, probably due to the fact that the shorter pieces are easier to hold against the fence consistently.

The problem is, getting my wife to pick a molding!  I’ve shown her the four samples, and told her that I can get bits for other profiles if she prefers.  Well, I’ve still got to get the wood and let it acclimate, so the need for a decision is some distance off.  Until then, the samples sit in the dining room, waiting for her to pick a winner.  When will that be?  The world may never know!

Panel Trim 1

Blanket Chest Design – Lumber Calculations.

Now that the basic dimensions have been established, it’s time to determine how much lumber I need to buy for this build.  At this point, I am calculating for the basic frame-and-panel box and the bottom.  The wood will be poplar, and a good 4/4 rough.  I would actually like it a little thicker, so that I can plane down to a finished thickness of 7/8″.

The overall dimensions of the chest are 48″ long x 22″ high x 18″ deep.  Since the rails and stiles will be 3″ wide, I will need 3″+ wood for that.  I say 3″+ because I’ll be ripping to 3″ in the end, so anything over that will be waste.  Due to this, I’m not thinking so much in board feet(bf) as liner feet(lf).  I’m planning on 2″ tenons on all joints.  For the rails and stiles, the calculations are:

Front & back rails:  4 x 46″
Side rails: 4 x 16″
Corner stiles: 8 x 22″
Inside stiles: 4 x 20″
Total Wood:  504″, or 42 lf.  Allowing for waste, this will require four 8′ boards 3″+ wide.

For the panels, there is a bit more variability.  Panels will be 12 1/2″ wide and 16 1/2″ tall.  The 1/2″ allows for tongues on all four sides.  For the sake of flexibility and to allow for any alignment issues, I’m calling the panel pieces 18″ long.  For the 8 panels, this comes to a total of 12 bd ft.  If I use 3″+ stock, it will take 48 lf, or six 8′ boards.  If, on the other hand, I use 4″+ boards, it will require 36 lf, which will require five 8′ boards.

For the bottom, I’m planning on using tongue-and groove boards running across the width of the carcase.  These will be 18″ long, and 3″ or 4″ wide.  That means that the bottom will require 6 bd ft.  If I use 3″+ stock, that will require 16 pieces, for a total of 24 lf, or three 8′ boards.  If I use 4″+ stock, it will require 12 pieces, for a total of 18 lf, which would still require 3 boards.  The best bet is to stick with 3″+ boards.

So, to sum up, I will need 13 8′ boards 3″+ wide, or seven 8′ boards 3″+ wide and five 8′ boards 4″+ wide.

Now, it’s just a matter of going to the lumberyard.