Not a Blanket Chest

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Project by balidoug posted 05-14-2012 02:29 PM 2753 views 1 time favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Opening Credits: Special thanks to RGTools whose excellent advice and patience got me through a serious case of brain freeze. Anything you approve of in pic 5 is because of him; the mistakes are mine.

This is not a blanket chest, of course, but it was when I started planning on building it almost two years ago. I don’t have a lot of wall space for storage in my shop; because I don’t have a lot of walls. Two sides: glass doors and windows; Two sides: the roof tops of Banjar Pekandelan. The beginner ‘how to” books I started with all had a blanket chest as a good starter project, and I figured that would be a good shop storage project. Except I needed something stackable. And to get at a blanket chest I’d have to move whatever was on top of it. So I came up with this instead.

My “model” was the bottom part of a secretary I picked up in India back in the ‘80’s, minus all the fancy bits, and with completely different dimensions, and a few more bits of brass – an idea I got from some other stuff I saw in India. I figured once I worked out how to do the bottom part I could add layers, or, if not, do the bigger thing all together.

The planks were hand milled from some rather twisted 1 ½ inch planks of teak. Just about when I got the milling done I found Chris Schwartz (occasionally – and not very kindly – referred to in this site as “The” Schwartz)’s blog on Campaign Style, which put a name to what I was working toward. It also changed the joinery plan. The original was a bit like the “feathers” project (op cit), but I went instead with half blind dovetails on the bottom and rabbeted full blinds on the top.

The brass work stopped me cold. I honestly had no idea how to proceed, and could not find anything on the web how to cut a mortise for a brass drawer pull. A mistake meant ruining the board, and milling a fresh one. RGTools came up with some great suggestions and advice which helped me work through the problem, and also got me thinking about advice in general (refer to A1Jim’s post on advice and my recent comment if you care or are curious). In any case, RG, I hope this meets with your approval but if not, any flaws are mine alone.

When the carcass of the chest was done, a hurricane broke out in the Indian ocean and hit Australia. It had quite an effect on our weather here. Did I mention my shop is a little shy of walls? Well for 10 years that space in our house has been as dry as anywhere on an Island just south of the equator can be, but that night the rain came in horizontally. When the box dried it was a tad out of square. Heroic efforts to correct the problem were for naught. The wood wanted to go that way.

Stuff I leaned on this build:

10. They were lying when they said getting it square is more important on bigger projects. It’s WAY more important.
9. A new joint: Rabbetted double blind dove tail.
8. Check for fit often.
7. One way to chop a mortise for a brass drawer pull
6. I like the name Echo and the Bunnymen better than I like their music.
5. The back does more than keep the wind from blowing through.
4. Check for fit often.
3. Do not glue runners whose the grain runs perpendicular to that of the side.
2. Check for fit often.
And the number one thing I learned:
1. “Oh well; it’s only a shop project” is one lame a?s excuse.

Made by hand

-- From such crooked wood as that which man is made of, nothing straight can be fashioned. Immanuel Kant

11 comments so far

View SirFatty's profile


547 posts in 3504 days

#1 posted 05-14-2012 03:27 PM

I think it looks great!

#6, couldn’t agree more. Although their cover of “People are strange” is ok.

-- Visit my blog at

View DocSavage45's profile


9071 posts in 4134 days

#2 posted 05-14-2012 03:27 PM

Hmmmmm! Don’t see any teak lying about my 4 walled shop. LOL Pretty elegant for a shop cabinet! Imagine where it will take you. :-)

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View RGtools's profile


3372 posts in 3946 days

#3 posted 05-14-2012 04:27 PM

Looks pretty darn good to me. Those receses can definitly give you jitters since the joint shows so much. Where are you planning on putting it in your shop and what are you thinking about tossing in there?

In case case you took on a project with some more advanced elements and carried it off very well. That’s the best way to learn even if it gives you occasion to tilt your head and say “now just how the heck to I manage that?”.

Glad I could help.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

View woodworm's profile


14477 posts in 4882 days

#4 posted 05-14-2012 04:37 PM

Beautiful work!

-- masrol, kuala lumpur, MY.

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4168 posts in 4148 days

#5 posted 05-14-2012 05:10 PM

What a nice piece

The brass inlaid corners and handles are a nice touch

Thanks for a great read


-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View doncutlip's profile


2832 posts in 4848 days

#6 posted 05-14-2012 10:37 PM

looking good…nice dovetails

-- Don, Royersford, PA

View balidoug's profile


535 posts in 3770 days

#7 posted 05-14-2012 11:28 PM

Thanks all. You braggin’ about all them walls, Doc? Jamie and Doc: the 11th thing I learned is “lots of shiny metal distracts the eyes from a host of defects”. doncutlip: one “nice dovetails” will keep me going for a year.

-- From such crooked wood as that which man is made of, nothing straight can be fashioned. Immanuel Kant

View Martyroc's profile


2712 posts in 3598 days

#8 posted 05-16-2012 01:49 AM

Thats too nice for a shop cabinet, It looks good.

-- Martin ....always count the number of fingers you have before, and after using the saw.

View DocSavage45's profile


9071 posts in 4134 days

#9 posted 05-23-2012 02:49 PM

One person calls it defects, the other calls it character? While I.m trying to get it smooth, and clean another is beating it up with a chain????

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View vipond33's profile


1405 posts in 3789 days

#10 posted 05-25-2012 02:55 AM

For me this is more a piece of furniture than a tool chest as I keep everything in mechanic’s metal boxes. For you the journey seems more important as you work slowly without power tools for the most part and enjoy the challenge. This is a rugged build and well done considering your lack of weather proofing. I’m curious as to whether the top drawer is retained at the top like the lower one on the frame to prevent it from tipping. Good dovetails but in all modesty they should be covered up with veneer or inlaid wood. The brass inlays are a peach.
And the music? Echo was a drum machine initially as they didn’t have a drummer and “The Cutter” is one of my favourite tracks.

-- [email protected] : dovetail free since '53, critiques always welcome.

View balidoug's profile


535 posts in 3770 days

#11 posted 05-25-2012 03:19 AM


This was mostly an experiment to see how it can be done, and whether I’m ready to do it. Although happy how this turned out, the tool “cabinet” I have in mind will need to be more “rugged” still.

The idea is a modular storage space which is durable, and moveable.

The top drawer has a kicker to keep it from tipping.
Some of us like dovetails.
I was a fan back in the ‘80s. Tastes change. It kept coming up on my iPod when I realized I’d rather be listening to something else. Never knew that about the drum machine. Good Factiod.

-- From such crooked wood as that which man is made of, nothing straight can be fashioned. Immanuel Kant

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