Search This Blog

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Mahogany Curved Blockfront Chest - Finished Pictures

Here are a few pictures of the finished piece.

Itwas made with one two boards.  One for the top and sides and one for the drawer fronts and feet.
The secondary wood is eastern white pine.

The top and sides have book matched figure.

The hand cut dovetails match the pattern of the original.  Each drawer has a working lock.

Hand carved ball & claw feet with the side toes turned back like many Boston pieces.

Close up of the drawer fronts, finished in five coats of blonde shellac and dark wax.

The piece is available, contact me at for details.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Mahogany Curved Blockfront Chest Finishing & Complete Step 9

I have started the finishing of the chest by sanding everything to 180 grit sand paper.  Then I wiped it down with a tack rag to help remove the dust.
I sprayed a 1/2 pound cut of blonde shellac as a sealer.  Then I was ready to spray a mixture of Lockwood dyes for the color.

I am using a HVLP setup from Earlex with a 1mm needle because the liquid dye is a very thin mixture.

After I spray the dye, I let it dry and then rub it out with a gray 3m scotch pad.  If I need to lighten an area, I use a wet rag to lighten the color.

Now I am ready to apply the finish coats of shellac. I am spraying a 2 lb cut of blonde shellac.

I spray 4 coats.  I usually wait a couple of hours between coats.

After applying the 4 coats of shellac I wet sand the surface with 400 grit sand paper and mineral spirits. I wipe off the residue with a rag.

This is how the finish looks after wet sanding.

I spray one more coat of shellac and then I am ready for final rub out. Here is am using 0000 steel wool to get the finish smooth after the last coat of shellac.

The top has been rubbed out with the steel wool and then rubbed out with special dark wax from Minwax. The dark wax adds contrast and does not leave white dry specks of wax.

Here I am applying the wax to the case sides.

I glued on the top with the sliding dovetail and then nailed on four pieces of ship lap pine boards for the back.  I leave a gap  between the boards so they can expand with the climate.

I mounted the hardware as I waxed each of the drawers.  I also installed the drawer stops in the front under the bottoms of the drawers. The stops are 1/16 inch thick.

Looks like I am all done.  Now I have to do some honey do's before I start the next project.

Here is today's video:

Monday, November 6, 2017

Mahogany Curved Blockfront Chest Mounting Pulls & Locks Step 8

Time to mount the hardware before I start finishing.  I ordered the back plates, pulls and escutcheons from Ball & Ball.

Since the drawer fronts are curved the back plates have to be bent to fit the drawer fronts.  I just did this in the last project for the curved blockfront lowboy.

I have a block with a radius smaller than that of the drawer front.  I use a strap clamp to bend it on the block and hold it in place.

 Then I bang it a couple of times with a dead blow hammer to help make it conform to the curve of the block.

The brass springs back and just fits the front curve.  This is a sample curved front I had been using to test the finishing color.

Then I need to bend the bail, I do it the same way with the strap clamp and dead blow hammer.

The holes have to be drilled at an angle, we will get to that in a minute.  But this is how it is suppose to look when mounted correctly.  I chose to mount the hardware in the middle of each drawer.

To drill the holes at the correct angle, I drilled a practise piece and measured the angle with a sliding bevel, then I set my drill press table to that angle. About 10 degrees. I marked where I wanted the holes from the back plate and then drilled them.

Turned the drawer around and drilled the other hole.

Here we have all of the pulls bent and mounted.  The next step is to mount the locks.

The locks I ordered from Horton Brasses.  They have a lock pin at 1 1/8 inch from the top of the lock.  So the escutcheons have to be set 1 1/8 inches from the top to the round part of the key hole. It fits on the smallest drawer.

I use the lock as a template to draw the outline for the deep and outer mortise of the lock.  The pin is offset in the lock, so you have to be careful to set the pin in the middle of the drawer, not the lock body.

I use the lock as a template to mark the mortise that I need on the top as well.

I used a saw to cut the lines for the deep lock mortise.  That is how the old guys did it in the 18th century.  You can't see it very well here, so watch the video for more detail.

Using my dovetail chisel here to chop out the mortise here after sawing the sides of the mortise.
When I get close to the bottom of the mortise, I'll use the router plane to make a nice flat bottom.

Routing the bottom of the mortise flat.

Working on the shallow mortise for the back plate and the top mortise for the lock.

If I did everything correct the lock should fit right in after I drill the hole for lock pin.  Hope it is in the right place.

I traced the key hole on the front from the escutcheon plate and cut it out with a keyhole saw.  Then I used small rasps and files to clean it up.

Fitting the lock into the opening, so far it seems to fit.

Testing to see that the key fits and the lock works.

I match the escutcheon to the hole to check the fit.  Looks good at this point.  Only three more to do.

That's it for is post.  The next will be the finishing post.

Here is today's video: 

Friday, October 20, 2017

Mahogany Curved Blockfront Chest Making the Drawers Step 7

When I was at Yale studying the piece, I took time to look at the dovetails on the drawers.  They were somewhat smaller than I normally make.

The pictures that I took are not real clear but you can see the dovetails below.  On the smaller drawers there are 3 1/2  and on the larger there are 4 1/2.  They are also not the same size but they fill the space.

I plan on duplicating these.

First I need to mill a lot of 1/2 inch pine for the the sides, backs and bottoms of the drawers.
While I was at it I milled pine for the back of the chest.

The drawer sides will be 7/16 and everything else will be 1/2 inch.

After I resaw all this pine from 5/4 stock, I am letting it adjust to the shop humidity by letting it rest for a couple of days before I mill it to final size.

I laid out the tails on the drawer sides of the smallest drawer. I leave a 1/2 on the bottom for the 1/4 inch groove for drawer bottom and the balance for the 1/2 in bottom with the bevel for the groove.
We will see this in detail later.

Chopping out the dovetails in this 7/16 inch pine sides is very easy.  I first saw out the shape, then chop out the balance of the material between the tails.

Pushing out the waste between the tails after chopping them free.

I traced the tails on to the back of the drawer and then saw and chop out the pins.  Here I am test fitting the sides to the back.

I use a dead blow hammer to bang the sides into the back.  They make a nice tight fit.

Looks like 3 sides are done, now for the front.

Sawing out the half-blind dovetails on the fronts is a little different than the through dovetails in the back.  I angle the saw to stop at the front scribe line but allow the saw cut to be much longer in the back.  This is normal for 18th century dovetails.  I make sure to cut on the waste side of the pin.

Now I chop out the tail shape leaving the pins.  If you do everything carefully they should fit right together.  The sand paper in the picture is just being used as a piece of paper as a filler between the curved front and the cutoff block underneath.

Using the dead blow hammer to assemble the drawer sides to the front.

I chipped one of the tails when I banged it in.  I will use a little super glue to fix it before final assembly.

Now I need to put a 1/4 in groove into the curved drawer fronts.  It will be 1/4 inch deep.  I use a router bit and large bearing to make this. The top of this groove is 1/2 in from the bottom edge.  Because I planned for this there is no material in the drawer front where the grooves exits the edge.  This will be hidden by a tail on the sides.

I change out the bearing for the drawer sides, since they are only 7/16 thick the groove should only be 7/32 inches deep in the side.

Now I have a 1/4 inch groove all the way around on 3 sides.  I cut the back off 1/2 inch to match the groove.

Now I make the bottom by cutting the 1/2 in pine it to size, cutting the curve on the front to match and putting a bevel on the edges to allow it to slip into the groove.

Again if I do everything careful it should slip right in.

Looks like a good fit.  I left the drawer bottom a little proud in the rear.  This is normal for 18th century drawers.

Normally I would nail the back and glue up the sides now to complete the drawer. But I want to stain the dovetails on the side with the front color.  So I will be doing the staining before I glue up the drawers.

So the drawers are complete except for gluing and nailing the bottom to the back.  Next I am going to work on the top of the chest.

Here is today's video: