For the Christmas season I decided to be ambitious and build not one, but two, Six Board Blanket Chests. One for my mother and the other for my mother in law, they both have a lot of blankets.
Traditionally, a six board chest is made with six boards jointed for each panel and planned down. Along with the boards being one inch thick. My version of this follows that with a few minor changes.
- Edge Glued Panels from your local home improvement store
- (2) 3/4 x 18-in x 72-in Aspen Panels – Front/Back Pieces
- (2) 3/4 x 24-in x 48-in Aspen Panels – Side Pieces
- (4) 1 x 24-in x 48-in Stain grade Spruce Panels – Top/Bottom Pieces
- Piano Hinge, 1 1/2 inch or 1 1/16″
- Cut Nails, more on this later
- Painters Tape
- Table saw or the ability to cut a straight line (panel saw, circular saw)
- Block Plane
Plan loosely followed
Fine Woodworking – 18th-Century Six-Board Chest (PDF)
First step is to cut the large panel down to size. Using the 72″ panel, you can make the front panels for two blanket chest at the same time. One will be slightly smaller, but most won’t notice or have anything to compare it too. Make sure to apply painters tape cut line, this will prevent tear out on softer woods like aspen or pine. 36 7/8″ x 17″ final dimension for chest 1, ~35″ x 17 for the front/back of chest two.
Time to cut the sides. There will be a small cut-off in the middle that can be used as scrap or later for the battons for the top. Final Measurements, 17″ x 24″. You should have a small strip less than an inch if you accounted for the saw kerf.
Second side cut, you can see the painters tape worked and stayed on.
Mark off the side that will accept the stopped dado for the side. This is really important as you can’t just switch them them around as the front has the stopped dado, not both. Also start marking the pieces, S2 is for Side of the 2nd blanket chest, the underscore is in case you flipped it around.
Switch to your dado blade and make all the dado cuts. Dado blades are a pain to change and setup. Feather board and push block used for protection.
My new/old Ridgid saw can’t accept a large dado blade, plus I setup the dado for the grooved bottom. A block plane can clean it up very nicely and quickly. No one will see this side of the joint.
You can see the dado cut on the side panel below. Showing the same dado cut twice and I forget to get that picture. Same setup as before.
Stopped Dado – A normal dado that stops to a 90 degree angle. You can’t finish it just on the table saw, but it can help. You see i stop right before the stop point and the blade is fully raised to try and get as close to 90 as possible with a round blade.
Time to clean up the stopped dado. First, lets get rid of all the waste. Make sure to put a waste block under to help tear-out and you don’t want to bang a chisel into a table saw.
All done, just a few blows with the mallet.
If you have followed the instructions well, you should have this clean cut. The side will hold the bottom board, and the front/back will rest on top of the piece.
The chest is held together with 20 “cut nails”. They will be visible, so you can use a “Divider” to evenly space them. Sharpen the point, and push in, rotate, push in, repeat. They look like a middle school compass missing the pencil.
Soft woods and nails near the edge tend to split wood. Drill a small pilot hole to help prevent this.
Cut nails are not round like a wire nail. Make sure to align the long portion with the grain, again, prevents splitting. Cut nails are what was used to build the chest long ago, they are hard to find. I buy from *insert tremont*. Cut nails are sold by the pound and in increments of 3d, 4d, 5d, 6d, 8d. We are using 3/4 material, so that is 6/8th, so we use a 6d nail. I am purposefully ignoring the data we put into it.
You should have a small overhang, and that is good! An overhang helps you to flush up the edges, and a block plane helps to do that. If you set it for a large shaving, you will need to put a lot of force in it. You are going against end-grain, so it is acting like a chisel slicing all the wood fibers.