Monday, December 9, 2013

Seaborne chest part 10 (the end)

I finally pulled myself together and finished the sea chest.
After a lot of various obstacles such as a course north of the Polar circle, a heavy storm and 80 cubic meter of sea shells - today seemed like the right day to end the project.

The traditional way of attaching the beckets to the cleats is by means of an axle made out of rope. In order to make a nice diamond knot, you need at least some 4 stranded rope (or a higher number).
I don't have any rope of that kind lying about, and I don't want to purchase some just for making two small axles. So instead I decided to turn some axles instead.

I made the axles out of some old apple tree that I had once saved for turning purposes. Turning old fruit tree like apple, pear or plum etc. is a joy. The turning itself went conspicuously smooth, and that is rather strange since I don't do much turning. I turned two axles with a dome shaped end, and two loose domes that were drilled out afterwards - and then glued on to the axles (with the beckets installed)

I made the recesses of the cleats little deeper, to accommodate the domes, and then I simply screwed them onto the ends of the chest. I didn't use any glue in case someone will want to disassemble the arrangement in the future to renew the beckets when they are worn out.

For a finish I have thought about painting the chest, but I ended up deciding for a pure oil finish. I read on the can of Kamelia oil I have, that it can be used as a finish. Since the whole chest has been sort of an experiment, a new type of finish seemed just right. The oil penetrated the wood impressively easy, and I have now left the first coat to dry. I guess that I will add three coats in total.

What did I learn about this build:
The correct tools really do a difference. A scrub plane was probably the biggest difference from my previous sea chest build.
The nice looking Crown of Sheffield chisels that I had brought with me are nice looking and comfortable to use, but they can't hold the edge. They are so soft that I had to resharpen them way too often considering that the wood is soft pine. So I don't recommend anyone to buy that model of chisels. It is actually a shame since the tapers of the sides are nice and thin, and the name Sheffield used to be synonymous with high quality steel years ago.
Peer pressure got me into making beckets and cleats. Looking at the finished chest, I have decided that I think they look a little too extravagant. I have to admit that I am more into Shaker simplicity than fancy rope work. But I guess that I would never have found out if I hadn't tried.

All in all a nice little project that is possible to make even without a proper workbench.

Sea chest with beckets

Small sea chest with beckets

A blown out hole in the barn made by the heavy weather.


  1. The chest turned out great! I have to tell you I really love the applewood turning and beckets and in the photos they really seem to fit the feel of the chest, but obviously you are in a much better position to judge than I. Still, I have to score one for peer pressure.

  2. Hi Bill

    Thanks for the nice comment.
    I ought to practise my turning a little more, I actually like to turn, but it is so seldom that I do take the time to do it.
    I will have to say that the apple wood axles did turn out really good though, and they get some extra glow with the oil finish.

  3. I nearly purchased an inexpensive lathe but my wife shot it down. I think the applewood looks great, and it stands out without looking out of place. I think your turning looks great. It's very tasteful and fits in nicely with the chest. I think ornate handles might have looked out of place, though still nice. Either way, it is a very nice chest.

  4. You are much too kind :-)
    I agree that the handles shouldn't have been more ornate, after all, it is just a small chest, so going all the way on the handles would have looked out of place.

  5. I think the beckets are totally awesome! To my eye they fit perfectly with that chest. Nice work with the turning.

    I wouldn't have thought to use camelia oil for a finish. It seems to look really nice on that pine chest. I think it doesn't darken the piece too much, like BLO sometimes does. It might be nice to see how that finish holds up. I used a walnut/sunflower oil finish on a walnut chest that I have once. After a while it got a little dingy, but another coat to freshen it up and a layer of paste wax seemed to do the trick.

  6. Thank you Brian.

    The Camelia oil doesn't darken the wood at all as far as I can see. The only thing that does get some more colour is the end grain, but I guess that water would give the same effect until it dried.
    I bought 1 Litre of the Camelia oil at Dictum, so I had plenty to use. The text on the can also suggests that you can add beeswax or mix it with other oils. That could be fun to try once. I'll have to get some beeswax from my dad, since he once acquired a large portion (5 kg more or less).
    I am curious as to how the surface will end, I don't know if the oil will harden, so I'll just have to wait and see.
    I am glad you liked the beckets. I visited a museum while I was attending a course in Tromsø north of the Polar circle. It is the Norwegian Polar museum, and they had a nice collection of sea chests. I didn't bring a camera with me, and my phone is no good for taking pictures. But there were some nice examples on display. It seems that it was standard practise to nail some canvas (from a sail) on the top of the chest. Kind of like a table cloth. Off course some of them had used seal skin since many of the chests had belonged to whalers and hunters of seals. But I din't remember seeing any with rope beckets. But then again it could be that the chests were too new.

  7. Nice chest Jonas.
    Are the handles replaceable? Is the piece holding the apple wood turnings screwed in place from the inside?

    1. Thanks Ralph
      The handles are replaceable, in that the piece holding the apple wood turning (the cleat) is screwed from the inside without glue. But the apple wood axle has the end glued on, so in order to remove that one from the becket, you would have to use a saw. But on the beckets with an axle made from rope, that one can't be removed either.
      I doubt that the handles will see much real work though, so I hope they will last for a long time.