The making of a chest (or two....or three) #1: Just the beginning...

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Blog entry by kski60 posted 09-23-2012 12:13 PM 1071 reads 1 time favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of The making of a chest (or two....or three) series Part 2: Day 2......a lesson in futility. »

Because I don’t have many affordable woodworking resources available near me, I sometimes have to do things the cheesy way or the hard way. I have no dovetailing machinery nor have I learned how to create mortise and tenons joints (I think I said that right), so most of my joinery work is done the cheesy way…with glue and dowels. Additionally, lumber yards are few and far between here in “Bella Napoli” and those that are around are so ridiculously expensive that us normal folk can’t really afford any good wood. I, therefore, have to suffice with the run of the mill pine laminate that, without the proper amount of varnish or polyurethane, will fall apart in a matter of weeks, even days. Such is the case that I’m dealing with now.

For the longest time I’ve been wanting to build a chest. Whether it was for bed linens, a toy chest for my boy, or a retirement chest for all my military goods, a chest would accent out house very well Its always been a daunting task for me though. So after months of research, trying to find a way for me to create a strong, durable chest with the resources I have available I decided to go for it.
As I sache down the aisle at my local (and only) home store I notice that the usual cut of wood I had been using is gone. Not just out of stock, but no longer sold. The only wood available is some knotted pine that is cut to 18mm thick. This stuff is so brittle that if you drop a sheet (which I did accidentally) the pieces wuld chip off, like a puzzle drop from a table. I’m immediately put off on the idea of putting together something that will crumble. However, I have a great wife, one that supports me in every endeavor. She played to my ego a bit and convinced me that I can make this work.
So I purchaed 4 sheets measuring 18mm x 2000mm x 500mm of this garbage which ended up costing about $160. Ridiculous! Now my wife is put off! But because we had to have the shop cut it down to size, we couldn’t return it.
Now I can almost sense what you’re thinking; ”Why not just use plywood?”. This was an option (in my mind)....until we got to the store and realized they don’t sell anything strong enough. I’m telling you, this place is NOT for the avid woodworker.

As we get home and offload the “wood” I noticed something horrific; None of the wood is square or even straight. Its all warped!

Here’s where I’m at with it now:

-I’ve managed to put 2 chests together, a toy chest and a linen chest, using 6mm dowels, wood glue, and an occasional wood screw to keep it all in one piece.
-Neither of the chest are close to being square, despite my best efforts to get them that way.
-All sides have been braced up with scraps of walnut, ash, and birch to minimize the warping.
-I’ve attached the tops with a piano hinge (which I had to hacksaw myself because the italians only sell rolls of piano hinges) just so I know where I need to sand to have everything meet up.

As you might be able to tell, I’m a bit frustrated. however, I am determined to prevail. We’ll see how the next week or so pans out.

-- "Today is more like now than it ever was before." -Yogi Berra

2 comments so far

View derosa's profile


1597 posts in 3400 days

#1 posted 09-24-2012 01:08 AM

Time to buy a chainsaw, large bandsaw, and start producing your own wood. Just head out after some storms and find downed trees and cut to the best length you can handle. Helps if you can pick up a cheap trailer to attach to your car. One of my current projects is using applewood from trees I cut down in the orchard, cost me a day of labor, and 50.00 at the mill and all set. If my situation was like yours and there was no mill around I’d just get a really big bandsaw or even make one, so I could make my own boards as well.

-- A posse ad esse

View kski60's profile


42 posts in 2637 days

#2 posted 09-26-2012 07:09 PM

I wish that were possible. I’m only transient here, so I have to make due with what’s available. Great suggestion though; something to look into when I get back stateside.

-- "Today is more like now than it ever was before." -Yogi Berra

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