ANATOMY OF A BLANKET CHEST

Flap stay

Screwed to inside of chest side and lid; can be adjusted to suit wide range of lid weights and closing speeds. In fully open position, collar snaps into rod cap to hold lid open

Traditional blanket chests were often fur­nished with one or more drawers to store anything from papers and pens to sewing needles and thread. The top and bottom panels of the drawer assembly are mount­ed in stopped grooves in the front and back panels of the chest, with a divider to separate the opening for the drawers.

Since molding strips are fas­tened around its edges with sliding dovetails to accommo­date wood movement, the chest top shown at left does not require battens to keep it flat, though two have been added for decorative effect. The lid stay holds the top open and allows it to close slowly to avoid damaging the piece.

ATTACHING THE TOP WITH A PIANO HINGE

Installing the hinge

The hinge should be equal to or slight­ly shorter than the length of the chest. Clamp the top to a work surface using wood pads to protect the stock. Hold the hinge in position, aligning the center of the pin with the back edge of the top, and trace its outline. Next, install a straight bit in a router and set the cutting depth to the thickness of the hinge leaf. (Take care adjusting the depth; if the rabbet is too deep it will cause the hinge to bind when the lid is closed.) Align the bit over the inside edge of tfie outline, then fasten an edge guide butted against the router base plate. Rout the inside edge of the rabbet, keeping the base plate pressed against the edge guide. Make repeat cuts, adjusting the edge guide each time, until the rabbet is completed. Then, set the hinge in the rabbet and mark the loca­tion of the screw holes. If you are adding molding (page 91) or battens (page 92), do so now. Then bore pilot holes at the marks, put the hinge back in position (right), and drive the screws. Set the top on the chest, with the free hinge leaf flat on the top edge of the blanket chest’s back panel. Mark the location for the screws, bore pilot holes, and drive in the screws.

ATTACHING THE TOP WITH BUTT HINGES

1 Tracing the hinge outlines

Instead of a piano hinge, you can use two or three butt hinges to attach the top to the blanket chest. The hinges are mortised into both the top and back panel of the chest. To begin, clamp the top good-side down on a work surface and place the first hinge in position a few inches in from one end, positioning the pin just off the back edge of the top. Use a pencil to trace the outline of the hinge (left). Mark the oth­er hinges on the top in the same manner, positioning one near the other end and one in the center, if necessary.

3UILP IT YOURSELF

HINGE MORTISING JIG

A router is an ideal tool to cut mor­tises for your blanket chest’s butt hinges, but do not try to do the job freehand. A jig like the one shown at right will guarantee fast, accurate results. You will need to equip your router with a straight bit and a tem­plate guide to make the cuts.

Make the template from a piece of %-inch plywood wide enough to support the router. Outline the hinge leaf on the template, being sure to compensate for the template guide and the thickness of the fence, which is also made from %-inch plywood. Cut out the template, then attach the fence with countersunk screws.

To use the jig, secure the top of the chest edge-up in a vise. Mark the hinge outline on the workpiece and clamp the template in position, aligning the cutout with the outline
on the edge and butting the fence against the inner face of the top. Make the cut (below), moving the router in small clockwise circles until the bottom of the recess is smooth, then

square the corners with a chisel. When you are using the jig to cut mortises in the top edge of the blanket chest, be sure to secure the carcase to pre­vent it from moving.

ADDING MOLDING TO THE TOP

1 Making the molding

Install a molding bit in a router and mount the tool in a table. Rout the mold­ing from stock thicker than the top so that when the lid is shut the molding will overhang the side and front panels slightly. (The stock should also be wider and longer than you need so that you can rip and crosscut the molding to size later.) Align the fence with the bearing and feed the board into the bit to carve the design in one half of an edge. Mount a featherboard on either side of the bit to secure the piece during the cut. (In the illustration, the front featherboard has been removed for clarity.) Flip the piece over and rout the other half, creat­ing a mirror cut of the first (right). Then rip and crosscut the molding to the size you need.

ROUTING MOLDING IN THE TOP

2

Adding battens

When molding is attached with sliding dovetails, it serves to stiffen the top, elim­inating the need for battens; molding that is simply routed in the edge of the top does not offer this advantage. In this case, to prevent warping from changing humidity levels, fasten two or three battens across the underside of the top. Cut the strips of wood from the same stock as the top, mak­ing them about VA inches wide and 3 inch­es shorter than the width of the top. For visual appeal, round one end of each bat­ten on the band saw. Next, set the top good-face down on a work surface and hold the first batten in place about 5 inches from one end of the top. Drive three screws to fasten it in place (right). (To allow the batten to expand and contract, enlarge the counterbored holes at the ends of the wood strips into ovals; the center screw is the only one that should be driven in tight.) Repeat the process to mount the other battens.