Friday, April 19, 2013

Blanket Chest Panels & Final Milling

Its hard to believe its been almost a month since my last post but as I've had a little less time to spend in the shop and quite honestly hate heating the place up when its cold only to spend a hour or so out there. Well its getting warmer now so I have no more excuses. After some time spent milling all the parts a second time closer to the final dimension I started to get all the panels cut to size for at least one of the two blanket chest. I plan to make two chest, one of oak and another from butternut. I made a decision on what I want to use for the frame with the eucalyptus veneer. I was really leaning strongly toward the ebonized oak but the butternut was such a close match I went with that.
Butternut between eucalyptus veneer
I only cut the panels for one chest because I thought that the thickness of the veneer would determine the width of the dado's cut in the frame parts but after they were all glued up I realized I was going to have to cut a small rabbet in the back side of the panels to make them fit properly in the 13/16" wide parts.
1/2" wide rabbet cut in the panel back
I did all the final milling to size and cut 3/8 dado's in the parts were it was needed and sanded all the parts to 120 grit. It was now just a matter of fine tuning the fit of  the panels to the dado's cut in the parts. 
Before I could glue up the panels I had to get all the veneer cut to size and taped together, then it could finally go into the vacuum press. This was a tedious job and took a lot more time than I expected.

I had to play around a bit with the placement of the bird and butterflies to get them to look good on the top and one of the sides.  I had a little help from my wife with this, so with that done I cut them in place and prepared them for glue up.

I chose to use cherry for the back of the  panels because I didn't have enough eucalyptus veneer for both sides and the inside will seldom be seen. I had a few square feet of another batch of eucalyptus veneer that was not a match to the outside of the chest but I thought I would use it for the underside of the lid so when it was opened it would at least be the same type of wood as the outside.
inside of panel
underside of lid


As of today I have all 7 panels done with the little stamen inlay-ed into the flowers after they were glued up. They are all sanded to 220 grit and I plan on finishing this project with an amber shellac. I just like the way it looks on the wood. It's not be the most durable finish so I might cover that with a couple coats a lacquer. I plan to finish all the panels before I put it all together so if there is any wood movement in the future you won't see any unfinished wood. Below are the panels unfinished
Side Panels

Front Panels

Top Panel

I have been keeping a journal of time on this project, something I never do but I was curious  how long this project would take. As of now I have a little over 80 hours but that includes some time milling wood for a second project ( I would say about 3 or 4 hours). I don't know if this is good or bad but after its all done I'll ask some professional furniture makers what they think to get an idea were I stand.

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