Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Treasure Chest

For one of my daughter's class projects for the school's fund raising auction, I was tapped to build a treasure chest that the class would make copper inserts for and then also contribute a toy. I was asked to "make a toy box that would reflect the theme of the Auction Event - Under the Sea". Immediately, my mind went to a treasure chest.

I looked all over the internet for Treasure Chest plans, but I really didn't like anything that I found. They were either all too small or didn't have the image that I thought a treasure chest should have - classic rounded top, tapered sides and possibly some additional ribbing and metal strapping.

I finally drew up a design that suited my tastes and sensibilities. It was a tapered chest that stood 22" tall on the sides with tapers that went from an opening of 32" by 20" to a bottom that was 24" by 12", roughly. Unfortunately, my drawings were destroyed when some "little girls" decided to color and paint the treasure chest for me, and while it was fine art, the usefulness of the drawings became obsolete. The lid drawing survived and I have it here for reference:

As you can see, some of my drawings start out fairly simple with the image in mind and not a lot of detail. I let the project define some of the dimensions for me. With respect to the lid, I wanted to start there to optimize the wood that I had (donated from my local Home Depot) so it made sense to do a 32" + 32" + 20" = 84" frame as they had donated 6' and 7' 3/4" dimensional pine for the project. Those dimensions stuck in my head and stayed there.

Once I had sketched out the top, I went ahead and started construction there. The arc was a best fit and natural looking curve that would also function as a place for "heaped" toys to sit and be covered up. Every toy box I've seen seems to have a flat lid that won't close as more and more toys get crammed in. And my associates on the project needed the lid first for their side of it: the copper plates on the interior.

This finished photo shows the toy box in all it's glory - full of toys and displaying the students handiwork:

As you can see, the copper plates add a wonderful finish detail when the chest is open and I wish I had thought of it - but I have to give credit where credit is due. The mom's I was working with dreamed this part up and did the installation themselves with liquid nails and then leaded the edges with a soldering iron. It came out beautifully.

Once the top was complete, building the box was a fairly simple task. I joined the remaining 1x8" lumber into 27" panels. (7.5" x 3) and made my compound angle cuts on the radial arm and added an angled top and bottom to the panels so the treasure chest lid fit flush to the top and the bottom would be stable. I added some rabbets to the bottom of the panels for a 1/4" plywood bottom, hardware and suppoting hinges so the lid would not slam down on little fingers. I had the gold chain left over from another project and added that for some additional "pop".

Later, after completion, I was asked if I could make a checkerboard that would sit in the top of the box, that could be removed and used on a table. I had some wood left over and I made a "board" that was 3/4" thick using some ply wood and rabbeting the 3/4" pine around that. I added a trim piece that would be around the actual checker board once that was complete. So, it was ready for the squares. I had never done this before, but I had an idea.

I had a 2' length of oak hardwood that I had squared to about 1 3/4" for another project. I started slicing that off into 1/4" thickness squares, making 64 in all. Then I simply did a dry fit into the space, alternating the grain on the squares. It came out (literally) perfectly. I don't know for sure it I just got lucky or it had to do with the fact that I kept the squares in order the way they were cut and I was able to eliminate any squareness error with the alternating sequence. All I know is I was able to glue the squares in place, I slightly planed - sanded down my border trim piece and glued that in and I had a checkerboard complete in less than 2 hours.

In all, the project was fun and easy to build.

No comments:

Post a Comment