Tag Archives: tongue and groove

Blanket Chest – Fitting the Floor

Blanket Chest 34

Adding the floor was one of the simpler parts of the process.  All of the boards had already been cut to length, so it was just a matter of layout.

I started by finding the center of the blanket chest, and placing the edge of one board adjacent to it.  Then, with the board square across the opening and the bead facing down (remember, down is up here), the board was secured in place with one screw on each end.  If the screws were the sole means of support for the bottom, I would have used two.  However, the entire chest will be resting on a lip on the inside of the base which will provide the actual support, making one screw sufficient.

The most important thing was even spacing of the boards.  Not only do the boards require a small gap for expansion and contraction, but the width of the space should give the appearance that the bead is centered between two equally-spaced gaps.  After playing with various items, I found that 18-gauge brad nails were just about perfect.  On reflection, I should have planned ahead when I made my scratch stock, and made sure the gap it created matched up perfectly with a spacer ahead of time.

Blanket Chest 35

In the end, when the chest was turned over, the spacing was fine.  However, the groove didn’t provide the same shadow as the gap, giving a less-than-equal appearance.  This surprised me, since they had looked much more equal when laid out on the table.  I can only attribute this to the different way that light plays off the inside of the chest.  It’s not a bad look, but not what I intended.  The only consolation is that the bottom will be covered with blankets.  That’s not much consolation to a woodworker, but it’s not worth doing over, so I’ll take what I can get.

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’.

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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 – 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.