Hugh Howard

G&G Blanket Chest variations - reasonable ideas or crazy?

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Hi all,  I had a few ideas on changes to the beautiful guild G&G blanket chest.  I am going to build a chest to contain a bunch of my kids swim gear and I need a little more space than the current configuration.  Here are changes I was thinking of making, let me know if any of them seem especially egregious to you or if they seem okay.  I have no loyalty to historical accuracy and in fact much prefer changing things up to make them my own as long as they aren't problematic structurally (not a matter of opinion) or aesthetically (somewhat a matter of opinion, of course).   This got a little long so I don't expect anyone to comment on everything, but would love any input and wisdom you guys have on any of this. 

 
1) Local wood.  I like to use locally sourced wood when I can.  We have a great guy in town that uses trees that came down on their own - a little like having our own local version of Matt Cremona and so I try to buy wood from him whenever I can, but we don't have local Mahogany.  He did have some nice cherry.  I've seen some of the builds in walnut, which looked nice, and normally I can get great walnut here, but my wood guy was out of it so cherry it is.  Obviously this makes it Bluee and Bluee or something other than Greene and Greene, but I'm fine with that as long as there is no reason why cherry just can't be combined with ebony plugs or finger joints, but I don't see a reason why that wouldn't work.  The lid will be quartersawn but the rest will not be.
 
2) No dye or stain?  The project colors the wood.  I'm a big fan of wood with clear finishes and my wife doesn't tend to like dark wood.  Is the reason for the dye just trying to be historically accurate?  The room already has maple and walnut and a little cherry all treated with shellac or arm-r-seal and I'd probably stick with that.  Is this idea crazy?
 
3) No drawer because I want to capture most of that space as detailed below (although I hate giving up such a cool feature).
 
4) My chest will be about 2 inches taller so it will line up with a low windowsill.  I still want as much depth as possible.  I've seen the alternative method included in the build, but even want another inch past that, so here is my idea (I can draw a bad sketch if necessary)  cut the groove for the plywood bottom into the base instead of the case, about 1.25" below the top of the base so forgetting the chest and the deck there would be a drop of .5" from the top of the base to the plywood bottom.  The case would then nestle down into the base and sit directly on the bottom.  The deck would then just be an optical illusion in terms of function made from something like a .5x.5 strip of wood that would get glued onto the case just above the base (the base is coming from 5/4 stock, so I'll keep it as big as possible and will probably be 1" wide allowing it to stick out another .5" beyond the faux deck.)  To attach the case, I'd probably use a little glue to the base.  I think wood movement with the base shouldn't be any issue since grain there is going in the same direction as the case and the faux deck. 

Shouldn't I be able to get away with minimal attachment since gravity will hold it together except when it is being moved, which will almost never happen and to a much lesser extent from when it is open a bit.  I'm almost tempted to leave the unit in two pieces and just have the case slide into the base, but that is probably a bad idea.
 
5) I'd like to add a cut out under the lid in the front that might be viewed as an upside down cloud lift to give an easier way to grab the lid to open it and to let air in and out.  (Swim gear will be stored in the chest so it can't be very air tight).  Is there any reason this would stylistically clash or is there any other issue I'm not seeing? 
 
6) I'm still playing with the box joint proportions I want.  I really like Marc's and I also really like the smaller ones others have posted in the gallery.  Since my chest will be 2" taller than the guild one I wonder if I the box joints in the project would scale up or if it would look better with at least a couple more fingers (it certainly looks just about perfect in the guild design).  With dovetails I always go symmetrical, but irregular and could try something like that here.  Marc in some sense has 3 fingers on each edge and if I went with more I might go for 5, but echo his pattern of getting bigger as they move to the center.

 

7) My wood is 5/4 because the dealer didn't have 4/4 (and his prices are great so getting 4/4 somewhere else would have probably cost more).  Would the chest look better or worse with 1" sides instead of 3/4"?  It would certainly make the Rockler torsion hinges a little harder to apply but the large box joints would be even larger which I could see going either way.  I hate planing away so much wood, but I don't want it to be too chunky looking either if 3/4" would look more refined.  

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Any project looks good in cherry or walnut.  I think cherry is more befitting of G&G considering the ebony plugs but either one would look fine.

No color needed if you use those species.  Please, no color.

The drawer always seemed like a waste of time to me.  This ain't the 18th century...no longer need to hide your spices.

Make the dimensions suit your needs.  Just keep proportions in mind.  Golden ratio is a good reference point.

I prefer the smaller box joints like Peart's version.

I think 1" is too thick.  I'd go for 3/4" to 7/8".

The torsion hinges are great for safety but are lacking in the aesthetics department.  I used Brusso hinges and lid stays on my blanket chest.  They'll smash fingers but they look way nicer.  Have a talk with the kid(s).  Mine still have fingers.  (The Brusso hardware is not cheap but so what.)

 

 

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1 hour ago, Hugh Howard said:

2) No dye or stain? 

Please for the love of God, NO ! Cherry or Walnut are INCREDIBLE with Arm-R-Seal all on its own. 

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People who use dye or stain on cherry should have their tools taken away before they can cause more damage. Just joking.  Not really. 

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Wow, Eric.  That is a nice chest with some nice hardware.  I ordered the Rockler stuff this morning before posting (which seemed quite nice until I saw your Brusso option)  and have been trying to cancel the order all afternoon, but when I pull up my order on their website it is listed as "processing" and when I click on my order number I get "order not found." 

Thanks to everyone for the confirmation that I can just go with Cherry straight up.  That is always my natural inclination.

Going down to .75" or at most 7/8 seems right, too, even though I hate to waste all that wood.  On the bright side perhaps it will give me the incentive to surface the wood a bit before cutting it down which might help as I am a little torn with them in the rough state about which boards should be used in front and which in the back for the best results and once they are cut there is no turning back.

Interesting idea about stippling the accent pieces.  I've never done stippling before, but I always like trying something new.  I always assumed I'd try it on a box first, but then again I guess this is a box - just a big box...

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12 hours ago, Hugh Howard said:

Wow, Eric.  That is a nice chest with some nice hardware.  I ordered the Rockler stuff this morning before posting (which seemed quite nice until I saw your Brusso option)  and have been trying to cancel the order all afternoon, but when I pull up my order on their website it is listed as "processing" and when I click on my order number I get "order not found."

Go to Brusso's website and sign up for their emails.  All the Brusso hardware I have on hand was bought through 'specials' that they email out.  I find a phone call to Rockler can get almost anything within reason accomplished.

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I should have called them yesterday.  Today they are "picked" and they say I'll have to pay for return shipping.  They can't be very heavy  so I don't expect that will be too much, so I think I'm going to return them. 

Eric. is one JB-280 (the bigger Brusso lid stay) the right thing to order for a chest of this size?  (The write up for the lid stays says "The two sizes featured below are excellent for humidor, jewelry box, and other keepsake projects," but then has a picture of a blanket chest so it isn't clear just based on the website).

Happy 4th everyone.

Hugh

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16 minutes ago, Hugh Howard said:

Eric. is one JB-280 (the bigger Brusso lid stay)

Yep that's the one I used.

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Hugh, I used the Rockler hinges and think they look great. I used three and should/could have used two. I love Brusso hinges, although over priced, and use the 95* ones on small boxes. Granted, Eric's looks damn good but wait until you get yours before deciding. They are super simple to install. 

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I forgot to mention a couple design choices where I left the standard build (some of which I asked you for advice on above).

I wanted a much deeper chest and I wanted it to align with our windowsill so my chest is  roughly 2 inches taller than the guild one.  I also found that for the 3 boards that wrap around to make the front and sides (my boards weren't long enough to wrap around and allow the back to be from the same boards, but the back looks fine and is out of sight anyway) I could get about 21" out of the three boards and still make them look fairly good together, so I put a dado directly into the case side for the bottom to rest in and got 19 3/4" usable depth inside the chest.    Then the base was cut to fit around the case. The deck is a faux deck - just a thin strip of molding that looks like a deck, but is not - it is above the floor of the chest. 

I don't do miters very often in my work, but had built my own poor man's version of the super chute shooting board and used it for the first time in this project and it worked like a charm (to my eyes).

I couldn't resist playing with the spacing of the fingers and was surprised when my mallet was too big to drive in the ebony on the sides (the hammer had 1" diameter).  I was even more surprised not to find an option on amazon or in my local woodworking store that was under 1".  I was worried a metal head would damage the plugs so I took 2 sided mounting tape  and cut/attached a soft wood head on my regular hammer.  Just to be even safer (?) I added duct tape to protect the plugs more.  It worked okay, but the mounting tape failed and had to be replaced once.  In retrospect I liked my solution for a single use, but If I were going to do this a lot I'd try to find a better solution.  I'm sure there is a more standard, known solution out there.

I had already ordered the Rockler hinges when I found out about the cool ones above and ended up deciding I did like their look so my current plan is to use them.

Knowing that I put the inverted cloud lift on the top (in part because we might store wet swim gear in it) I might have made the lid have less overhang as I really like the look of the cloud lift and it is hidden a bit by the overhang. 

I'm thrilled with the advice above to keep the finish clear.  I'm happy with the look it is going towards.  I also have gone with only shellac on the inside because I know people often say at least for drawers that other finishes on the inside can leave an off smell for a long time and I'm already partial to shellac as a finish, but I wondered what others do.  

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11 hours ago, RichardA said:

Nice job, but for some reason it feels ....I don't know a bit to crisp for G&G.

Interesting.  I confess I've never seen a G&G piece in person and my exposure is through the Guild build and Google so it makes sense that it might feel a little different.  As I mentioned in the first post I don't mind failing to fit precisely under the category as long as the piece at the end is pleasing.  I thought about joking in that post that I was going to build a Bluee and Bluee blanket chest.  As I've come along I've tried to add more and more curves into my work - partially for the fun of it and the added challenge, but perhaps to avoid being too crisp?

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I do a fair amount of G&G influenced stuff.  I always take the elements and the influence and try to make the designs my own.  You have taken that philosophy to heart.  The cloud-lift opening at the lid grip is an interesting application of this feature as are the single fingers on the base trim corners.  I too am a fan of the irregularly spaced fingers.  Consistent finger dimensions over long runs look 'riveted' to me.  although this is a desired look for some I prefer a break in the repitition ;-)

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15 minutes ago, Hugh Howard said:

Interesting.  I confess I've never seen a G&G piece in person and my exposure is through the Guild build and Google so it makes sense that it might feel a little different.  As I mentioned in the first post I don't mind failing to fit precisely under the category as long as the piece at the end is pleasing.  I thought about joking in that post that I was going to build a Bluee and Bluee blanket chest.  As I've come along I've tried to add more and more curves into my work - partially for the fun of it and the added challenge, but perhaps to avoid being too crisp?

That wasn't a complaint, merely an observation.

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 I went by the book/videos on mine as I was afraid to go outside the box. I kinda like yours better. Great job. 

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