Toy Chest: Designing the Details

I spent a lot of time designing not only the entire chest proportions, shape and construction – but also the finer details found throughout the chest.  These are extremely important to set the chest apart from other crafted furniture – making it an elegant, highly interesting piece of furniture.

I don’t recall where I read it, but I think it was George Walker either in his blog or in a Popular Woodworking article that he wrote.  It was about designing furniture for the Far, Medium and Close views.  A piece should not only draw in a person to inspect it, but reveal more character at each level.  At the far view you notice the overall shape, proportions and main elements.  As you move closer, the piece reveals medium details such as hardware, wood figure or large decorative elements.  As you lean in, the inlay, carving, pegs and other small pieces show themselves.  I really like this line of thinking and want to make sure that my pieces of furniture cover all three views.

The other influence to this piece came from a class I recently took from Darrell Peart on Greene and Greene details.  G&G constantly re-used a variety of details on both their architecture and their furniture.  We reviewed these in class, building a small sample piece that had a few of their most-used details.  I thought about those details, what I think they do for a piece and created some of my own either directly or indirectly from their style.

This video shows the design at different levels and how Greene & Greene influenced my work.

Toy Chest: Complete

The toy chest is finally complete, and I am super excited by how it all came together.

I bought lid hinges from Rockler that hold the lid at any angle.  A very cool feature, especially for a kids toy chest!  You calculate the depth of the lid and weight (assuming even distribution) and purchase the correct number and type of hinges.  They worked really well.  I mortised them into the lid and the chest.  It then took an hour or two to fit them just right so that the front closed perfectly.  I had to re-add a little material to the back of the chest on one side, but I finally got it where I wanted.

A lot of details to wrap-up, small pieces to add and finish to match the rest of the case.  And I banged in the small peg details as well.

The toy chest is all done.  It’s been a blast to build and it actually turned out even greater than I imagined.

Toy Chest: Assembly

I’ve got the toy chest all assembled and am finalizing the details.

I first assembled the front frame and panel and then glued on the curved K parts.  I only glued the curved parts into the middle third or so of the panel, allowing the rest of the panel to float behind the K.  I did put some slotted screws out in that area so the curve would stay attached to the panel throughout.

With the front assembled, I went ahead and did the back and sides, simple frame and panel assembly with the domino joints.

The front needed some final additions, including the small serif details on the outer edges of the K, some glue blocks and other odds and ends.  All those went on easily and now need to be finished to match the rest of the case.

All the frame and panel parts have already been pre-finished on the outside. The process was 3-4 coats of diluted boiled linseed oil, followed by a couple coats of shellac (brushed), followed by one coat of shellac rubbed on. I then rubbed-out finish with steel wool and will finally followup with some wax.