With the lid complete I can finally layout and begin installing the hardware for the chest. The chest will ultimately be painted but I want to test fit all of the pieces and the hardware before I begin painting. Additionally, the hinges and hasp will need to be morticed into the back and lids and I want to do this before any finish work. All of the hardware for chest was made by blacksmith, John Switzer, of the Black Bear Forge. Learn more about the hardware in this post.
The strap-hinges will be screwed to the back of the chest and the underside of the lid. I’ll need to cut two mortises in the back to make room for the hinge barrels. The measurements are taken directly from the hinges themselves, since being handcrafted they have their own unique dimensions. Then I slowly begin the process of chopping the mortises. This part needs to be done carefully as the pine has a tendency to split and potentially blow-out the mortise.
With the mortises cut I laid the chest on its back and worked on aligning the lid. This process didn’t go exactly as planned. In fact, my first attempt failed spectacularly.
I had assumed aligning the back of the lid with the hinge barrel would give me the correct position when the lid was closed, instead I was off by nearly half an inch and the whole mess looked horrible. My mistake also brought to my attention that the lid wouldn’t open when properly aligned because it would interfere with the top of the back. So I removed the lid, and with the hinges still attached to the back, I placed a scrap piece of wood on the hinge and began to determine what would be required for the proper clearance. The travel of the lid was intersecting the top of the back. In order to provide the proper clearance I needed to make the top’s profile the same as the hinge barrels. I marked on the edges of the mortices where they met the hinge barrels, removed the hardware, and grabbed the jack plane. I gently rounded the back of the chest so that it would mimic the profile of the hinges. I tested this out several times with the hinges and a piece of scrap until I was convinced I’d have adequate clearance.
As I’d been so grossly off in my previous attempt I had to re-drill the pilot holes for the lid and make sure everything was properly aligned. This time it was a success! The chest finally has a working lid. Overall, it has a pretty good seal with just a slight gap at one of the front corners.
The hasp required a shallow mortise in the front panel so that the lid will continue to sit flush when closed. I would also need to let a small mortise into the lid itself for hinge barrel. Both of these mortises were cut the same as those for the hinges and this time I managed to get it right the first time.
Since the chest lifts wouldn’t require any mortising, but only pilot holes, I decided to wait to install them until after painting. So the chest has officially reached “chest status” with its completed lid installed! Now I just have to take everything back apart… to prep for painting.
Previous posts on the Dutch Tool Chest Build can be found here: