Peckovich-designed Tansu Chest

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Project by Glen Peterson posted 06-07-2014 05:01 PM 3668 views 9 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This case was designed by Mike Peckovich, art director of Fine Woodworking. I build it during a class he taught at the CT Valley School of Woodworking, where I’ve taken many classes over the years. I build this as a gift for my daughter who recently graduated from high school. The class met during a weekend in April and a weekend in May.

The outer case is made of QSWO and dovetailed. It is about 22” x 7” x 7”. The dovetails are interesting in that they are all slightly proud of the surface and are beveled so they are smooth to the touch. (Mike refered to this style as “wabi-sabi” a Japanese term that relates to acknowledging and using the imperfections inherent in woodworking into our work. He used the example of making making dovetails flush. Over time given the natural movement of wook, the tails may no longer be flush and the piece might seem flawwed. The wabi-sabi style takes the woodmovement into account and makes the pins and tails proud, i.e. not flush, from the start. Very interesting concept.)

The case has 10 drawers that are about 4 1/8” by 4 5/8” and either 1 3/4” or 2 3/4” tall. Half of the drawers are white oak, and half are walnut. The tails on the drawer fronts are also proud. Mike’s orignal prototype had turned ebony knobs. We were given black metal knobs as part of the class, but since both my daughter and I are turners, she wanted me to make ebony knows as well. The knobs were turned from 3/8” x 3/8” cylinders with a little 3/16” tenon. I used a Jacobs chuck in the headstock to turn them. It was quite a challenge turning such small delicate knobs, especially since the ebony was very brittle. (I turned 13 or 14 blanks to get 10 good knobs.) My tools were also dangerously close to the tip of the Jacobs chuck, so I designed what I think was a simple and clever safety device. The drawers are lined with suede. The inner partitions are walnut, about 3/16” thick. There is a sliding oak door that can reveal either side of drawers.

I’m particularly proud of the dovetails. We used the blue tape method Mike described in FW. The tails were cut on the table saw using a blade that the top of the blade ground at a 10 degree angle. The pins were then cut by hand. If you take a look at the 3rd and fourth photos that focus on the dovetails, you’ll see that there are no gaps. I’ve cut dovetails dozens of times, but never this well. I was skeptical about the blue tape method, but it really helped me to see where I needed to cut the pins, a great help at my age when my eyesight isn’t as acute as it once was.

It is finished with a spit coat of shellac, 3 coats of Waterlox original, and finally with a coat of my homemade beeswax & walnut oil finish.

Any comments or critique appreciated.


-- Glen

10 comments so far

View Jerry's profile


3488 posts in 2886 days

#1 posted 06-07-2014 06:43 PM

Beautiful work Glen. and a very unique design. I’m unfamiliar with the blue tape method, so I’m going to look it up right now.

-- There are good ships and there are wood ships, the ships that sail the sea, but the best ships are friendships and may they always be.

View sras's profile


6345 posts in 4367 days

#2 posted 06-07-2014 07:43 PM

Beautiful project! And well done!

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View BigDumbAnimal's profile


65 posts in 3044 days

#3 posted 06-07-2014 08:09 PM

That turned out great, I’m sure your daughter loves it.

-- Semper Fi BDA

View isotope's profile


177 posts in 2862 days

#4 posted 06-07-2014 08:50 PM

That is a beautiful chest. Very well done!

View ShaneA's profile


7085 posts in 3836 days

#5 posted 06-07-2014 09:02 PM


View Richard's profile


11310 posts in 4271 days

#6 posted 06-08-2014 06:09 AM

Very Nice Work Glen. Well Done! Thanks For Sharing.


-- Richard (Ontario, CANADA)

View Dave Dufour's profile

Dave Dufour

275 posts in 3216 days

#7 posted 06-08-2014 03:44 PM

Very Nice Work

-- Dave, from Canada,

View mafe's profile


13330 posts in 4327 days

#8 posted 06-09-2014 10:25 PM

So beautiful work Glen.
I always feel like a have ten thumbs when I see your work.
Love the proud doves and the little knobs-
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

View gsimon's profile


1327 posts in 3351 days

#9 posted 06-10-2014 12:16 AM

Great dovetails – really goes well with this piece

-- Greg Simon

View Tony's profile


5 posts in 1515 days

#10 posted 08-23-2017 11:47 AM

Great work, the blue tape method is awsome when precision is required, used it on a recent small puzzle box

-- Tony from Cairns

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