Home > Woodworking > 10-Drawer Small Tool Chest – Part 5

10-Drawer Small Tool Chest – Part 5

As the saying goes, “There’s good news and bad news, which do you want to hear first?” The good news is that I’m taking a vacation this year, one weekday a week through the end of 2014. This means longer weekends and shorter work weeks for the near future and more time to play in my shop. The not-so-good news is that a fair portion of this “vacation” will be consumed dealing with chores and family matters. In balance I think it good news overall.

Build Day 8 – Routing the Corner Bead

So my piece-meal vacation began with a half day off on Friday and this granted me a few hours in the shop to finish up the tool chest I’ve been working on. With my groovy 1/8″ radius corner beading bit in hand I mounted the  1/2″ collet  and began the setup on my router table. I would be beading both the top and bottom drawer fronts and although the router scares me, I was cautiously optimistic that this would go alright. True, I was a little nervous about mangling the drawers that took me so long to build but we woodworkers must be brave if we are to progress. What could happen right?

Using a scrap, I carefully adjusted the fence on my router table, then tweaked the router bit height so the radius of the bead would be centered on the plywood drawer bottom with the quirk groove just above the plywood. Awesome, I was ready to give my first drawer a try. As I made a dry run on the route it was immediately obvious that I had a major problem. For those of you who happen to listen to the FWW Shop Talk Live podcast you’ll be familiar with the segment they call “Smooth Moves”, where the hosts share their recent shop foul ups and blunders. For this post mine would have to be the decision to install the pulls before routing the drawer front beads.  “What would you do with a brain if you had one?” Well I certainly wouldn’t do it that way next time! No way I was going to be able to use a router fence, I’d have to rely on the bit’s bearing….. OK I can do that, so far so good only half-way through the route, the bit bumps into the pull… Oh crap! Turns out the pull interferes with both the bottom and the top route. Darn. After wasting a lot of time in great thought I realize that short of cutting off all the pulls, I was going to have to route to the pull, then begin the route on the other side of the pull leaving chunks of wood to chisel out and shape by hand. Top and bottom on all 10 drawers. Fair enough I’m a woodworker, let’s get on with it.

Naively, I suspected the bottom route would be trickier than the top but I hadn’t accounted for the fact that without the drawer bottom to ride along, the top sides would glide smoothly until, they dropped off the edge of my small bench top router table, allowing the router bit to make an ugly gouge in my otherwise very pretty bead. OK make a note of that and hold on to the work piece accordingly which I mostly did yet still with some glitches. So I thought about placing the drawer on a piece of plywood as a carrier and this could have been done if had chosen to route all the bottoms first before adjusting the bit height to account for the carrier thickness. I chose to leave the bit set and route both top and bottom using the same setup. Next time I would probably use the plywood and change the setup.

After routing I had a lot of carving to do to form the bead around the pulls. I used chisels to hog out the quirk and shape the bead and various small files to fine tune the groove. It was trial and error but with 10 drawers to practice on, I finally got the hang of how best to do it. Remember this is a “hand crafted” tool chest and there will be no mistaking it from a manufactured piece. Because of this fact, I decided not to fix the bead defects rather I left them for “character”.

Traditional Bead on the Drawer Fronts

Traditional Beading Completed – Blemishes and All

Build Day 9 – Final Drawer Fitting  and Finish

Relieved that I had “completed” the beading (both mechanical and by hand), I surveyed the drawers for fit and final finish. I had two drawers that needed some work, one of the two was too wide across the front. I took a block plane and chisel to it removing wood until the drawer slid smoothly. Then one drawer at a time, I relieved all the edges and sanded the drawer bottoms so they would slide as easily as possible. It was a fair amount of work with 10 drawers but it was necessary for that professional, polished look.

IMG_3768  Build Finished

I was finally ready for a light sanding with the random orbital sander and 220 grit sandpaper.  A tack cloth removed the dust and I was finally ready for a coat of clear shellac. I’ll put several more coats of the undiluted clear Zinsser shellac on it over the next week knocking off the high spots in between coats with 500 grit sandpaper (by hand). I’ll take the advice I read recently and will dilute the shellac to 60% with alcohol for the final coats.

Tool Chest w/ Shellac

The build wasn’t perfect but overall I am happy with the result. I have learned many valuable lessons and many tasks did go as I had planned. Some things didn’t go perfectly and I have tried to give thought as to how they might be done differently (and more satisfactorily) next time round. Thanks for sticking with me…..

You have been reading an excerpt from the shop journal of the Turtlecovebrewer.

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