Topping It Off

I seem to misplace things more and more lately, or maybe it just seems so. And when you simply cannot find something no matter how long you look, it is time to call it lost. Such is the case with a whole session of pictures I took while working on the lid to my hope chest project. Perhaps they will turn up someday but for now they are declared lost.

Therefore, I will just give a quick summary of the construction process as best as I can remember it. In some ways it is a repeat of the lower frame construction but it was fin to make the top molding profile using a combination of power and hand tools. The top uses simple mortise and tenon construction with the same mitered bead treatment along the inside edges. (See my previous blog post if you missed it.) The top panel is a bit different as it does not use the same raised profile as the side panels but uses a small chamfer around the edges.  This will match the drawer fronts when they are finished. The outside upper profile is a simple round-over with a step.I cut the
initial step on the table saw and then refined them
after assembly using a shoulder plane. I created the round-over profile
by eye using a #5 Stanley plane, starting with thicker cuts and finishing with
very fine passes. I really need to get some well performing hollows and
rounds. I just picked up Matt Bickford’s
book on molding planes so I will have no excuses in the future. No matter, I think the results turned out quite nice.


Underneath is a cove that matches the raised panels on the sides and front of the chest. This gives an uplifting appearance to the lid and a soft touch for your fingers, inviting them to lift the lid and see what is inside. I have not yet finished smoothing all of the surfaces but here is a side view of the profile:


I mortised the hinges into the top and upper rail by scribing the outline with a marking knife and then used a butt chisel and carving gouge to remove most of the waste. I cleaned it all up with a router plane. Here are the hinges temporarily installed during initial fitting:


I used Brusso ball tipped hinges which are cast brass and very nice quality. However, I ran into an unexpected problem when I mortised them flush with the top and rail. The resulting gap between the chest and top is unacceptable to me and will require mortising the hinge deeper into either the top, rail or both.  I am not sure I like any of the options but I think I will mortise the hinge deeper into the rail. Here is a picture of the current gap.  (Not the best picture) Any other ideas?


In closing, Here are a couple of pictures to show the overall progress. I also have the bottom of the chest area complete and am working on the drawers. I will post about those soon. Thanks for staying with me on this journey. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to start a discussion. Dave

It is finally looking like a chest. Drawer is being worked on in the background!

Side shot



Cove underneath the lid.



Share Button


  1. Randy Rietcheck

    Subscribe me to this blog

  2. David Jeske

    The wood panels are actually quilted madrone, at least I am pretty sure. I hand planed the flat portions and sanded the cove section up to 400 grit using fresh sandpaper. I used a 1/2# to 1# cut of super blond shellac to help reduce blotching. Some portions of the wood were bordering on going punky and did not look too good when I tried some test finishes. The sealer coat helped out. After lightly sanding the sealed surface with 400 grit I used an oil varnish mixture. I mixed 1/3 minwax tung oil, 1/3 gloss spar varnish and 1/3 mineral spirits. This is quite thin and can be brushed on, allowed to sit for a few minutes and then wiped off.  It takes several coats to build up a nice even sheen. I use the same finish on the walnut.  In the pictures I have not completed the finish on everything yet.

    For the pictures I just used a spring clamp flood lamp (or two) with an incandescent bulb.  Seemed to work well for the darker, more dramatic effects. 

    Glad you are enjoying the posts, I am having fun making them.

  3. Jay Davidson

    Might i ask the finish and process used on the curly maple? the depth and shimmer make it look like the finest silk fabric.

    would it be too much to ask how you got the picture? i doubt you used flash, suspect you used aux lighting to bring out the beauty in the maple. I like your chose of frame material and the contrast, although large, is very well balanced.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *