Begin construction of this coopered-lid box by deciding on the overall dimensions. (Nels measured his largest tools, making sure that his new 24'/2-in. long Japanese-type saw would fit in the main well. Then he studied the rest of his tools to see how they could be arranged in drawers and tray compartments to take up a minimum of room.) Now make up a full-scale drawing of the end view to see how much room you have for the pair of swing-out trays. Lay out the end view of these trays. Also use the drawing to determine the number of staves you'll need to cut. Using Win. thick staves at this radius of curvature, figure on making the staves about 1 in. wide. Finally, the end view should give you an idea of how the box will look with its fan of cherry wedges.
Begin by cutting out the substrate to which you will glue the fan of cherry wedges: a circle of '/2-in. cherry plywood cut to the radius shown in your full-scale end view. (You may have to substitute birch if cherry is unavailable in your area.) Mark the circle on the plywood with a compass scribe, then rough-cut it to the line on the bandsaw. Trim the piece to a clean, perfect circle with a router mounted to a trammel beam. Note in the photo at top left on the facing page that the substrate circle is screwed to a 2x6 clamped upright in a vise.
Tnm the circle to the line with a trammel-counted router. The substrate has been screwed to the 2x6 clamped upright in the vise. Photo by Craig Wester.
To make the fan, cut out the wedges-three at a time—using a shop-made carriage jig on the table saw (see the photo at top right). Cut the stock for the wedges over-length by Vz in. Set three pieces at a time in the jig and make the first taper cut. Then switch the jig side for side, reinsert the stock and cut the second taper. Using the carriage jig as a shooting board, clean up the sides of the wedges (again three at a time) with a hand plane (see the photo above right). Be sure the edges are square to the face of the wedge and that they come to a sharp point
With the wedges prepared, set up a building board on which to glue up the fan. (Nels used a piece of flat scrap plywood; you can use sound insulation board or a plank of soft wood.) Dry-assemble two half-circles of wedges,
Use a carriage jig to cut wedges on the table saw (above). The same jig can be used as a shooting board (or planing the wedges smooth (left). The thin cardboard under the wedge shims it slightly higher than the carriage edge. Photos by Craig Wester.
using small finish nails to hold the pieces in place and tightly against one another (see the top photo on p. 172). Trim any irregular-edged fan pieces with a hand plane to a tight, void-free fit. You should end up with two half-circles, each a little greater than 180° to allow for final trimming. When you are happy with the dry run, mark the pieces for location in the fan, remove them from the board, cover the board with waxed paper, and reassemble the two half-circle fans with glue.
After the fans dry, scrape and sand them smooth. Then remove them from the building board, peel away the waxed paper, and scrape off any remaining glue. Arrange the two fans on the circular piece of substrate, planing the bottom edges of the fans to fit tightly to one another so they form a full circle. Glue
Arrange the wedges in a two semicircles, and pin them to the building board to test the fit before gluing. Photo by Craig Wester.
Glue up the fans on the substrate, then weight the assembly with a block until the glue dries. Photo by Craig Wester.
them together and to the substrate (see the photo below left), placing a scrap of ■Win. plywood and a cement block on the assembly until the glue dries. Finally, draw the outer circle of the end panel of the tote (again referring to your full-scale rendering for the radius), centering the compass on the focus of the wedges. As before, cut close to this line on the bandsaw and trim the circle cleanly to the line with a router mounted to a trammel beam (see the photo on the facing page). In the last step, lay the circle out into four quarters and cut them out on the bandsaw, trimming them to rejoin perfectly with a hand plane.
Cut out the staves, leaving them long in length but cutting them to the width indicated on your full-scale end view. Run the edges of the staves by a table-mounted router fitted with a flute and bead set (see the drawing on the facing page), then cut them to finished length. Next, using the type of assembly jig shown in the bottom photo on p. 166, prop up the two quarter-circle ends parallel, plumb and at the exact length required. Then install the staves, running glue along their shaped seams and in the rabbet formed by the fan overhanging the substrate. Draw the staves together with band clamps. When the glue is dry, scrape off any excess and proceed to make up the second quarter-circle unit. With that one dried and out of the jig, trim both to join against one another and to sit on a flat surface. Finally, holding them together in the jig, use a 48-in. long, 100-grit sanding belt turned inside-out to remove the facets and create a smooth, curved surface. After going up to a 120-grit belt, switch to a random-orbit sander for the final sanding.
With the two quarter-circle units held together, check the total width of the cover. Because of cutting and trimming the original circle, it is likely you will have to adjust your full-scale rendering of the lower portion of the box.
Using this new width, make up the cut list and cut all the parts to size, including the parts for the drawers and swing-out trays. Now the fun begins: Hand-cut the dovetails at the corner joints and make rabbets and dadoes where necessary to receive the partitions. To support and provide a slide for the drawers, make a guide and groove system similar to that used by David Winter in his machinist's chest (see pp. 38-45).
To figure out how to mount the swing arms to the trays, make up cardboard patterns to represent the ends of the trays and the three swing arms. Find the pivot points by pinning the cardboard arms to the end patterns—first stacking them up on each other and then swinging them out to the open position. When you are satisfied with the range of motion (the upper tray moves as far as it can to one side while still having the lower tray support it), use the final pivot points established on the pattern to mark the actual ends of trays for drilling pilot holes for the lever-arm attachment screws.
Not finding a commercially made gang lock small enough to suit his box, Nels decided to fabricate his own from a length of brass and some screws and springs. The lock works much like a typical file-drawer lock: When you push the brass arm down, it forces a gang of screws into the locking plates set into the back of the drawer boxes. Instead of a keyed catch, however, this version uses a
A final trim with a trammel-mounted router completes the fan-veneered end panel. Photo by Craig Wester.
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