Toy Chest: Details’ Construction


I wanted to share how I constructed the various small details that are on this Toy Chest.  They are:

Different Planes

The various pieces of the chest are all offset by about 1/16″.  The legs are slightly proud of the rails, which are a little proud of the panels.  This gives a very nice textured feel to the piece.  It highlights the fact that it’s a piece of furniture made from elements in 3d.  These are created by offsetting the joinery.

Chamfer Edges

I used the 60 degree edge of a chamfer bit to softly lead from level to level.  So, there’s a very slight chamfer on the edge of the leg which leads down to the rail.  The chamfer is a little less than 1/8″ wide by less than 1/16″ deep (60 degrees).  This was created on the router table using a Freud 30 degree chamfer bit and running the pieces on edge.

Square Pegs

I constructed the chest using a Festool Domino, so it’s all hidden floating tenons.  I used pegs in the corners where rails meet stiles to highlight the fact that there’s a joint there.  This implied joint is a fun detail.

I used square punches designed by Darrell Peart to create the square holes.  I created the pegs by hand using sandpaper and a chisel.

Foot Indent

I wanted to highlight the foot of the chest, where it meets the ground.  I feel that this grounds a piece nicely.  I decided to do a small indent that “fades away” in two dimensions (up and in) and is about 1/16″ at its deepest.  I created this by first scribing the outer edges using a marking gauge and then chiseling the fade/slant right near the scribe line.  I then chiseled away the waste from the outer edge (fading to nothing) into the edge.

Curved Indent

The rails all got a slanted, curved, indented feature that was created on the tablesaw.  I judged where I wanted the deepest part to be (about 1/16″ deep) and then angled the tablesaw blade to “fade away” to nothing about 1/4″ from the bottom edge.  I used the tablesaw blade profile to define the outer corners.  I had to put the piece in place against the fence and then raise the spinning blade into the piece.  Since the blade was angled, I couldn’t drop the rail down onto the blade.

Magnetic Side

I embedded some magnets into the lower side rail.  I think Kyra will have fun attaching things to the sides!  I used a forstner bit to make the 1/2″ holes and dropped a rare earth magnet in.  I added a small peg to keep the magnet pushed against the front edge.  Then attached a small piece of wood on the back to hold everything in place.

All of those details really make this toy chest that much more elegant.

Toy Chest: Parts all Dimensioned


All the parts for the toy chest are cut to final dimension and the joinery (dominos) are complete.

Unfortunately during this process, I found larvae activity from wood beetles along the two back rails.  Luckily it was only in those two pieces.  Lots of holes bored  throughout those pieces, and half a larvae!, meant that I am getting rid of those boards and cutting a couple of new ones.  They are along the back, so it’s not a big deal to cut two new rails.  The new ones have some good-looking sapwood making the back interesting, but it is the back afterall so doesn’t need to entirely blend in.

The panels are getting boiled linseed oil and shellac prior to assembly, so when they expand and contract there’s no unfinished surface exposed.

I give a quick shop tour showing the mess that means progress is being made!

Toy Chest: Front Panel


I first want to create the whole front panel, including the rails, stiles, panel and curved K parts – so then I can take measurements for the final width and height of the toy chest.

As I got started on the frame and panel parts for the front, I got a little side tracked creating all five panels for the chest.  It took 3 boards of cherry for them all.  I ripped each ~6in piece in half, jointed+edged, and re-sawed those in half – to end up with 4 pieces of 3/8″ wood per chunk of cherry.  I then glued those all back together either book-matched  or slipped-matched, depending on what looked the best.  I clamped downwards first to keep all the parts in the same plane, and then across the glue line.

With all the panels oversized, I started cutting out the frame parts from the walnut board.   I roughed them all out, jointed+edged and cut on the table-saw oversized.  I then finalized the front rails and stiles.

For this project, I’ve decided to use the Festool Domino for the joinery.  A huge shout-out to my buddy Dyami for lending me his Domino.  It makes a traditional joint (two mortises and a loose tenon), but in a really fast way.  All the parts are cut exactly to size and then zip-zip, two mortises and a festool-supplied loose tenon finishes the joint.

With the front rails, stiles and joinery complete – the dry assembly gives me the final dimensions (height and width) for the chest.

After finalizing the rest of the sides and back, a dry assembly of the whole chest gives me the dimensions for the top and I can cut those pieces.  Everything is now all cut, final dimensioned and joinery cut.

I’ve also started work on some details for the chest.  More to come on those.

Toy Chest: Creating the Curved K


I first want to create the curved K and the entire front of the chest, as I will then use that as the final dimensions for the rest of the case.

I had my piece picked out for the curved legs of the K to re-saw and book-match.  I laid the template, printed over 5 pieces of paper from Google Sketchup, over the piece and chalked the outline.  A rough-cut oversize on the bandsaw and joint + edge, ready to re-saw.  My re-saw didn’t go that well, which doesn’t matter because I have plenty of material to work with.  The real problem was exposing too much sap wood in the middle of the board, which really didn’t look good.

So, I decided to re-saw just the front half to avoid all sap wood.  I first cut the curved legs of the K more exactly on the bandsaw and spindle sander.  Then I performed the re-saw on the tablesaw: each piece is about 1/4″ thick.  I was able to avoid all sap wood and it looks great.

Now that I’m dealing with a little bit thinner pieces for the curved section, I want more support at the stile (leg) of the K.  So rather than just butt them agains the leg, I inset them slightly.  I cut out a corner of the stile about 1/4″ deep to provide that support.

So – the front K is all done: the straight leg (stile) and curved sections (1/4″ thick).  On to the rest of the frame and panel to finish the front.

Toy Chest: Design


A friend came to me with the idea of a toy chest for her daughter’s first birthday.  What a great idea – rather than buying some plastic stuff, she’s investing in a solid piece of fine furniture that can last a lifetime!  It will start life as a toy chest and grow into a blanket chest.  This project is named after her daughter, “For Kyra”.

I had the idea of using the letter K on the front of the chest, so I started sketching some ideas.  I quickly came upon something I liked, so I took it to Google Sketchup.  I worked with the some dimension contraints from my friend and designed around those.

The chest is built from walnut for the frame and cherry for the panels.  I had a piece of curly walnut in the shop (from Exotic Lumber) that will be for the K on the front.  I went to my favorite lumber shop, Artisan Lumber, and picked up another stick of walnut (8/4 x 12″ x 10′) for the remaining frame parts.  I have a lot of cherry in the shop that I will use for the panels.

I start with building the front of the chest, the K, as that curve may not end up with exact dimensions from my sketch.  Once built, I can take the measurements for the rest of the chest.

From sketchup, I printed out the actual size + shape of the K, which spans 5 pieces of paper.  I taped those together and layed them over the walnut.  I chalked the outline and it’s time to start cutting.

End Grain Butcher Block Countertop: Finish


Kitchen Island with End Grain Butcher Block Countertop

The last two steps are to apply finish and install the countertops.

The problem with brushing or wiping finish onto this end grain countertop is that the red dust from the padauk will run over the white maple, turning it pink.  I know this because I’ve done it.  So – my solution is to flood the surface with finish and move it around by tilting the countertop – or very lightly using a brush to push it around the top.  This worked really well for cutting boards (which were much smaller), but less so for this countertop.  I did have to use some light brushing and that unfortunately caused some running of the dust.  It’s not enough to notice, particularly in such a large surface.  If I were to do it over, I’d probably spray on some shellac as a sealer first, and then finish from there.

I put on about six or seven coats of General Finishes HP Top Coat, sanding in between.  It went quickly – no trouble.  I started with around 220 grit and moved up to 320 and 400 for the final coats.

End Grain Butcher Block Countertop

Installation went without a hitch.  There are base cabinets on either side of the range, and two countertop sections sit on top of those.  The third strateches between them, along the back behind the range.  There’s some plywood stretchers, attached to each cabinet, that support the third countertop across the back.  All three are cantilvered about 12″ off the back and with the plywood sub-base, there is almost no flexing and no need for additional support.  I simply screwed through the cabinets into the countertops to hold them in place.  A little clear silicon along the joint between sections.

I ripped a single straight cut across the back where all three countertops align.  Then applied the 1″ padauk edging all the way around.  Cutting each piece to length as I went.  Once that was all in place, it was taken back off, rounded over, sanded, finished, and put back on.  Then a couple more coats of finish over the entire surface plus edging.  Finally finished with some wax.

The whole thing looks absolutely gorgeous in place.  It’s now ready to be put to use.

End Grain Butcher Block Countertop

End Grain Butcher Block Countertop: Finishing Touches


The three countertop sections are out of the clamps and ready to prep for finish.

Taped for Epoxy

I want to finish the bottom of the sections just in case some moisture gets under there. I roughly cleaned up the bottom to make it flat and then started putting finish on it. Unfortunately about 5 minutes into the process I realized that as the end-grain was soaking up the finish, it was expanding and thus bowing the whole countertop. So, I turned them over and applied finish to the top as well. Of course, I hadn’t prepped the top or anything yet, but that did take care of the bowing. All that finish had to come back off later before final finish was applied.

I mounted each countertop section onto 3/4 plywood as a subbase to make the top appear thicker and also to provide support. The sections are cantilevered about 10″ and the plywood helps to stiffen them up so they don’t need additional support over the air.

I took the time to fill some cracks + voids with epoxy. Unfortunately it didn’t really seep down as well as I’d like, but it worked OK in spots. Maybe a bit overkill, but I’m glad I took the time to do it. I put some wax paper between the countertop and plywood so that epoxy wouldn’t permanently stick them together. By the way, the plywood base is inset about 1/4″ on all sides; the whole thing gets a border.

Ready for Finish

I started with the Festool RO125 and quickly realized it was going to take awhile to get the top all smooth and epoxy lines (from glue up) down. So, I reverted to the drum sander for a few passes. That still took quite awhile, but I think was faster overall. After working through grits up to 220 on the drum sander, I had to go back to 80 on the RO to get rid of the straight scratch marks left by the drum sander. I was surprised I had to go back so many grits, but the end grain really takes a scratch that’s hard to remove.

Finally the top is sanded through 220 with the RO and ready for finish.