A couple of years ago, my daughter went on a S.A.L.T.S. trip where she spent 10 days on a tall ship, cruising the high seas around Vancouver Island. That gave my wife the idea that she might like a sea chest for her 19th birthday (my wife is the one with all the good ideas). In a recent blog post, I showed you how the hope chest was started, but a few other projects with urgent deadlines delayed its completion until now.
I completed it tonight and have the pictures to prove it. Here you can see that I’ve cleaned up the dovetail joints, glued it up with Gorilla Glue polyurethane glue. The clamp placed diagonally is to help square up the box. It’s a trick I learned working for a house framer (D. Gartner Contracting). I measured the box diagonally each way, and determined that it was slightly out of square. Pinching it with the clamp across the corners squeezed it slightly and put it back into square. It worked very slick.
Next, after pulling the clamps off, I could see I had some clean up to do. Polyurethane glue foams up like crazy. One of the reasons I like using it is because I was going to stain the box, and polyurethane glue peels off the surface leaving almost no residue. You can see it easily, and it doesn’t really soak into the wood like typical carpenter’s glue. It requires good joinery to work well – you can’t do a crappy job of cutting joints and hope it will expand and fill the gaps (which it will do) as well as have any strength (which it won’t). That’s why I spent so much time cutting the dovetails and dry-fitting the joints as you saw in my previous posts.
I cleaned up the glue with a paint-scraper, and then proceeded to sand the corners to make the joints look perfect. Then I proceeded to sand and scrape the box with a cabinet scraper. A sharp cabinet scraper left a nice pile of shavings as you can see below.
After scraping and sanding, it was time to stain the box. The wood is pine. Pine is notorious for being difficult to stain evenly. So I chose a nice gel stain because of it’s ease of use. I can control how dark or light it gets by how long I leave it on the wood and how many coats of stain to do. One coat of stain worked quite nicely.
After the box was stained, you can see it looks quite rustic – which was exactly the look I was going for. I didn’t want it perfectly smooth, but with some of the tooling marks still showing. The box was turning out just as I hoped it would! Now it was time to install the carved tall ship:
Gluing the tall ship to the box turned out to be a bit of a challenge as the carving had slightly warped. I spent a good amount of time pressing it down with my hands until the glue set up. After that, I sprayed the box with a nice polyurethane finish and put the handles on it. My wife had another of her good ideas and decided the box needed handles made of twine, tied in a fisherman’s knot. She tied them up and I installed them by simply drilling 3/4 inch holes and threading the handles through and tying them off on the inside.
Finally, I fitted the lid in place and the box was complete!
I think my daughter was pretty pleased to finally get the hope chest. I know I was pleased at how it turned out.