Massachusetts Block-Front Chest


Step 52 Once you have the waste cleared away use a small plane to smooth to the lines.


Step 53 Next, you need to remove the waste at the rounded corners. You can cut a majority out with the band saw, but I found that using carving chisels was a snap. The #7/20 sweep gouge fits into the cut just right.


Step 54 Then, set the Divider pattern 3/4” behind the front edge of the Drawer Fronts and trace the pattern onto the top edge of the Fronts.


Step 55 Make a separate pattern for the inside radius at both ends of the center recessed area. The radius is 1-1/2”. This pattern will draw the inner edge of that turn.


Step 56 Make a two step cut that will establish the squared or “blocked” area at the ends of your Drawer Fronts. The second cut will be with the tenon cutter jig as shown. Use the 3/4” line as a reference to set the cut.


Step 57 Now it is off to the band saw! I used a 1/2”, 4 teeth per inch, skip tooth band saw blade to make the cuts. There is a lot to cut. The curved areas on the face of the Fronts and the entire back of the Drawer Fronts needs to be cut.


Step 58 Shape the rounded fronts. I used a Shinto rasp to do the bulk of the work, then went to finer rasps and files until I was ready to sand the profile. You also need to work the back of the Fronts to a smooth surface.


Step 59 Pay close attention to the lines of the “blocks”. They need to be kept straight when working the Fronts. Using a sharp chisel, straight edge or small square, along with a marking knife will help get the Front shaped. Also, periodically position the Front into the Case and check the reveal around the opening to insure an accurate fit.


Step 60 Build the Drawer Boxes. See Bonnet Top High Chest Steps # 70-77. Cut the grove for the Drawer Front to receive the Drawer Bottom as in “Desk and Bookcase” step #85.


Step 61 Mill the Drawer Bottoms to size and set the Drawer Boxes in place so that inside front edge of the Drawer Front is even with the front edge of the Bottom. Mark the profile of the drawer Front onto the Drawer Bottom.


Step 62 Cut that profile and run the bevel on the bottom face of the Drawer Bottom. I used a shaper, but a raised panel bit in your router table will work. Because the Bottom is 5/8” in thickness, the raised panel profile will leave a radius edge that needs to be clean off for the look of a beveled drawer bottom. Use a plane, chisel, and sander to smooth the profile.


Step 63 With the three edges beveled, do not bevel the rear edge of the Bottom, the panel will slide into the drawer box. Test the fit, make any adjustments, and while fitted, mark the inner edge of the Drawer Back with a short line. That line will establish the height of the blade to make the cut for the nails that hold the Bottom in position. Make a pass about 10” in from each end of the Bottom and attach to the Drawer Back with nails after the entire box and Bottom are sanded. Add a bit of glue to the groove in the front! See Bonnet Top High Chest Step #85.


Step 64 Position the Drawers into the case and align the fronts so that the reveals are set, then use glue and brads to set the Drawer Stops as shown.


Step 65 Sand the entire Case to 180 and you are ready to begin the finishing process. Before you start to finish the chest, make the backboards. They run horizontally across the back and are half-lapped at the joint. See Chest on Chest Step #61


Step 66 The Brass Pulls for this project need to be shaped to fit the curve of the rounded Drawer Fronts. Lay the pull on a scrap that is cut to the same profile and gently shape the Pulls. When the Chest is finished, the hardware can be installed.

Glen has been creating fine furniture for over thirty years, specializing in 18th and 19th Century reproductions. He is a senior editor for <em>Popular Woodworking</em> magazine

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About Glen D. Huey

Glen Huey is editor of American Woodworker Magazine, and former managing editor of Popular Woodworking Magazine. He's an accomplished period furniture maker and author of numerous woodworking books and videos (as well as magazine articles).