then cut these parts to size. I cut the front 1/16 in. longer and each side V}2 in. longer than their finished lengths. This allows me to cut the dovetails '/32 in. deeper than nccessary and then plane them flush after assembling the case.
Next, rout the dadoes for the chest bottom in the front, sides and back. The back and sides can have through dadoes, but the front requires a stopped dado to keep this groove hidden once the case is together. (See Fig. 2.) After cutting the dadoes, rabbet the sides and back panels for the bottom frame.
Now lay out the dovetails on rhc front panel, as shown in Fig. 2. Like Cecil Pierce (see AW #54), I like to cut the tails first and use them to lay out the pins. The same sequence applies when dovetailing the back to the sides. Dry fit rhc front, sides and back to make sure these parts join properly.
While the assembly is together, measure for the chest bottom and the bottom frame. I always take the season into account when measuring for bottom panels. In February, it's wise to leave an extra */8 in. of space on the sides to allow for expansion. In August,
I try for a tighter fit because the bottom will shrink by Christmas. By comparison, the bottom frame doesn't have a cross-grain problem like the bottom of the chest; it should fit snugly in its rabbet. (See Fig. 1.) Cut the morrises and tenons for the bottom frame and glue it together.
1 prefer to mortise the front panel for the lock assembly before gluing the case together. Use the lock to lay out the two-
tiered mortise. (See sidebar, page 43.)
With a case this large, glue-up can be tricky. It takes a few minutes to spread glue on a corncr's-worch of dovetails. To avoid problems with glue setting up too soon, I modify old-fashioned hot hide glue to extend the working time. I use 251-gram-weight glue flakes (sec Sources), add 15% urea by volume, and soak the mixture in water for an hour before heating to a working temperature of 140° in my glue pot. If you don't have a glue pot, you can use any glass container and heat it on an inexpensive beverage warmer. (See AW #54, page 30.) The urea extends the glue's open time to about 25 minutes. Ready-made liquid hide glue also offers a long working time.
Glue the sides to the front first, then slide the bottom into the dadoes in these parts. Remember not to glue the bottom; it needs to float. Attach the back last. Pull the case joints tight with clamps and scrapwood clamp blocks. (Sec top right photo, opposite.) Wipe off any squeeze-out with a damp rag.
To maintain a continuous grain pattern as the skirt wraps around the chest, I cut the three skirt pieces from a single board. Dimension the board, then plane or scrape away any mill marks before cutting the molding detail along the top edge. (See Top Edge Detail, opposite.) Miter the ends of the front board, then cut the side skirt boards to finished length. Once these cuts arc made, you can transfer rhc skirt pattern onto the boards.
I cut the skirt's curves on my band-saw, using a 1/4-in., 4-tpi (teeth per in.) skip-tooth blade and cutting just shy of the line. You could sand out the skirt profile, but 1 prefer to remove the saw-marks the same way Geer would have. First, 1 use a spokeshave and a drawknifc to cut a small chamfer along the inside edge of the skirt; this prevents tcarout. (Sec bottom photos, opposite.) Then, working from the front, I pare down to the line using a combination of chisels and gouges, working across the grain. The gently undulating edge is just what you'd find on a fine antique—a distinctive maker's mark that no machine can reproduce.
To protect areas of short grain, it's a good idea to attach glue blocks to the back side of the skirt pieces. (See Skirt Details, opposite.)
Now attach the skirt to the case. Cilue the front skirt to the case first and allow the glue to dry; then attach the side skirts one at a time. I find that dealing with one corner at a time is considerably easier than struggling with a three-piece glue-up.
Once the skirt is glued in placc, add the glue blocks between the inside of the skirt and the bottom frame to reinforce the skirt molding. Cilue the back brackets and corner glue blocks to reinforce the corner joints (See Fig. 1.)
Joint and thickness the two boards for the lid and edge-glue them together. Plane and scrape the lid as necessary before cutting it to its final dimensions. Next, cut a tongue on each end of the lid. to receive the breadboard ends. (See Lid Detail, page 39.)_
Pulling it together. Slow-setting hide glue is a good choice for a time-consuming glue-up. Clamping cauls pull pins and tails tightly together.
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