Friday, March 22, 2013

Sea chest build part 10

I finally got started on the drawers, after gluing, waiting, grooving and dovetailing they were ready for assembly.
For the half blind dovetails on the front of the drawers, I used a hacksaw blade in a pull saw fashion.
I don't saw past my baseline, not even on half blind dovetails for a drawer. According to some very respectable sources, it was widely used in the past to cut past the baseline on this particular joint. But this is not a historic build, and I don't think saw kerfs inside a drawer are pretty. I actually don't think it is hard to execute the half blind dovetails without passing the baseline, so this is how I do it. I can fully understand if someone want's to go the historical way. So let us not get into an argument about which method is the most true. If it gets the job done, and you are happy about it, well then it is the method for you.

After gluing up the drawers, I adjusted them a little with the plane, and tried to remove the worst black fingerprints with some emery cloth. We don't carry sandpaper onboard, so I have some 35 mm wide emery cloth that will do.


Unfortunately one of the disadvantages of doing woodworking in an engine room workshop is, that a lot of the tools contain traces of used engine oil, soot, lubrication grease, metal grinding dust etc. So during the handling, the nice light coloured wood tends to look kind of dirty.

After the sanding I sprayed the drawers with some electrical urethane isolation varnish. I have decided that it will make a nice finish, I hope that I am right about it.
The other options for finish was either olive oil, soy bean cooking oil, hydraulic oil (various grades), gear oil (various grades), engine oil, compressor oil, synthetic refrigeration compressor oil, gas oil, or a mix of the aforementioned.
In addition to this there is the possibility of painting.

Actually it did look nice with the varnish, so now at least it will protect the drawers for more fingerprints while I continue the work.
I ground an 8mm drill to a brad point drill, and drilled some holes for a drawer pull in the front of the drawers. I plugged those holes with some wiping paper before spraying on the varnish, so I can later glue in a drawer pull. The plan is to make these on the lathe.

Tonight I hope to finish the last secret drawer, and to make a test assembly of the interior. Next up will be either the skirt or the lid. I haven't quite decided yet.


  1. I am in awe at how well this chest is turning out considering the tool set you have available. Not to mention trying to work on a ship at sea. How did you get the corners of the dovetails? I don't over cut neither - I don't think it looks right. I cut the corners with a card scraper

  2. In addition to being easy to plane, this wood is also easy to dovetail, so to get the corners done, I use the chisel coming down following the slope, so actually cross grain.

    When the grain is loosened, I come in from the front, chisel flat side down, push all the way into the corner and twist the chisel. So it kind of tears the fibres that are still connected to the back part of the dovetail.
    That does the trick (at least for me). It was the same method I used when I made our kitchen drawrs at home, and they were made out of elm. I sometimes get a little left over in the corner, so I think that I will try a cardscraper when I get home.
    A fish tail chisel could also be an idea. But I would have to buy a cheap one for the experimenting.

    Regarding the ship board working thing, then we are in a very calm area (Gulf of Guinea outside Nigeria), so there isn't a lot of swell. In addition to that, we don't move very much. Since we are doing subsea work at the moment (oil well construction).