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I did not want to build the “I Can Do That” project for the February
2011 issue
. As my co-workers can attest, I grumbled about it for a good
three weeks before I got started…and then, only at the last
possible minute. So that meant I was in our shop on a weekend, working
on a project I didn’t want to make. It was like walking the plank with
a sword to my back; that sword was a scheduled photo shoot.

was so odious about building this Pirate Chest? Perhaps I can
chalk it up to a neighbor child’s ever-expanding (and always scattered
about) collection of all things pirate and the pain of stepping on
those sharp, tiny cutlasses and pointy hats whenever I’m babysitting.
Or maybe I’m just tired of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” juggernaut –
inescapable as there’s a fourth one coming out in 2011 (not to mention
that Johnny Depp looks far more handsome as John Wilmont in “The
Libertine” than as Jack Sparrow).

And because of my antipathy and resulting frantic last-minute build, the project was cursed.

started with a nasty splinter when I picked up the stock to crosscut
pieces for the front and back (I guess you could say I slivered me timbers?). Then, I knocked my block plane off the bench and chipped the
blade (I escaped immediate grinding as I have a second blade, but it
needed sharpening before I could put it to work). As I was clamping one
of the top slats in the Workmate to bevel the slat edge, I managed to get a
fingernail stuck between the stock and the Workmate’s split clamping top – which resulted in a
badly torn and bloody nail (so there’s blood on this project, which I
suppose is appropriate). And in my rush to finish, I wasn’t paying
attention and sunk one of the masonry nails in the wrong direction,
which split out an end. So I had to pull out the nail and wait for the
glue to dry in the repaired split. Finally, when painting the chest
(something at which I’m usually quite proficient and neat), I managed
to get brown paint all over my shirt sleeves.

In short, because of my
ill-tempered haste, the Pirate Chest took me a couple hours longer to
complete than necessary, and I had no choice but to stay late and
miss the beginning of “Sherlock” on Masterpiece Theater (which means I lost 20 minutes of watching Benedict Cumberbatch, who I find far more
attractive than Johnny Depp).

But Christopher
Schwarz (the evil cap’n who forced me to build this) was right – it’s a
cute project. I think I’ll direct my young neighbor’s parents to this
free article
– they need to build one in which to store all those
pirate toys. But I refuse to help – the curse might be contagious.

— Megan Fitzpatrick

• Now available in our bookstore: “The Pirate Primer.” No, it won’t teach you how to build this pirate chest (the plans, like all our I Can Do That projects and the I Can Do That manual) are available free on our web site. But, this new book from our parent company does have threats, curses, oaths and insults in pirate speak (I’m sure I uttered at least a few of them during the build), and all kinds of fun pirate stuff.

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Showing 11 comments
  • Tom Holloway

    Great project, skill-building and practical.
    On one technical detail: Someone might ask why there are several holes in the straps, if they are only used in one length/buckle position. At Tandy or similar leather craft stores you can get belt blanks in any width or length, and a variety of buckle styles. Punch just the one hole that will be used, dye to suit, and get a more authentic look.

  • megan

    That must explain why I’m single…I can’t even get the name of my fantasy boyfriend right!
    I’ll change that.

  • Mark

    You do mean Benedict Cumberbatch not Bernard…right?

  • Jeremy

    If you’re giving the plans away for free, does that mean we can’t "pirate" them?

  • Sandy (aka Al's wife) Navas

    Ah, but you are missing a LARGE commission if you do a chest for your annoying little neighborhood pirate. And, your photographer definitely needs a pair of twisted panties (remember CS) hanging from the chest lock.

    Fabulous – hope your nail heals quickly. I’ll send a Bull Whip for use on your cap’n if you wish.

  • Don Stephan

    Be glad Chris didn’t make you use my belts – you’d have needed a lot more lumber.

  • megan

    Well, as long as it involves cursing, yes! Sept. 19, every year.

  • Kevin Thomas

    I guess you’re ready for "Talk Like a Pirate Day" whenever that comes up this year?

  • LizPf

    Nice chest! Very piratical.

    But I don’t have to build one … my kids prefer ninjas. [Though they do a wonderful Morris dance to the "Pirates of the Carribean" theme melody.]

  • Carol Oster

    Great project, funny write-up. However, I respectfully disagree on one point – Johnny Depp is awesomely handsome as Jack Sparrow! My favorite Depp character.


  • Charles Davis

    Argggg! It’s loverly!

    The picture does a nice job of showing off your chest and booty. Well done!

    And "Sherlock" rocks… they English accents are uncanny.

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