For too long now I’ve been researching vernacular forms of furniture. I dislike the word “vernacular,” so I call these designs the “furniture of necessity.” These are the pieces of furniture that aren’t heralded in books or at Sotheby’s. Yet, they have remained almost unchanged in form for hundreds of years.
One of these forms is the “board chest,” which also goes by the name “six-board chest.” I’ve lived with these chests and built several of them for a forthcoming book. And yet, that wasn’t enough for me. What makes these chests interesting to me is the processes and tools that were used to build them.
I’ve found these board chests can be built with just a handful of tools in about a day of pretty hard work (and that includes painting). I have squeezed every minute of time out of my current process to build one of these chests.
And so to look for efficiencies, I decided to tap into some other builders.
Today I had a couple friends come to the shop and start building a chest each using only a minimum amount of direction from me. They had to work with the material they were given – local poplar from the lumber yard – and were strongly discouraged from using the power tools in my shop.
I asked them to produce designs that were different than the ones I’d built. So we are using slightly different joinery, new kinds of mouldings and interesting foot shapes.
We made it pretty far in about five hours of shop time. There was, of course, a serious break to go to Eli’s barbecue. We’ll pick things back up on Thursday and get these chests completed.
Check out the short video I made of the progress today.
— Christopher Schwarz
Check out Christopher Schwarz’s “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest” at ShopWoodworking.com for more chests and traditional woodworking.