[Medal Chest] It’s Done!

*Note to my readers—this is the secret project I’ve mentioned a few times.  It has consumed my shop time since February.  That’s why it’s been so slow on the blog for the last few months.  Now that it has been delivered, I can post the details.*

No, there are no bells and whistles on this thing—if Mom wants to put some in it, more power to her.  I built it, she can use it however she wants.

But to finish it, I had to do three things yet: (1) install the latch mechanism, (2) install the hinges, and (3) install the little rails that the inner boxes will rest on, making the interior storage double.

I went back to the chisels, traced the fancy looking hing design on the back of the chest where I wanted them and started chopping and carving (those little carving tools I used on the basswood worked great on the maple too!).  After about 30 minutes, I had to perfect hinge mortises cut out of the maple:IMAG3116It was surprisingly easy to get those complicated shapes with the carving chisels.  I started at the bottom where it was circular and used an appropriately sized Forstner bit in the drill to make the hole the right depth.  Once that was there, I just chopped out the rectangular part (at the top) and then used the curved little carving chisels to pare out the curved and sharp cornered bits.  I was expecting it to be really really hard, but only moderately so.  Sharp tools do indeed make all the difference.

Anyway, once the hinge mortises were done, I flipped the box over and installed the latch mechanism.  I don’t know what it’s called, but it has two little rollers that seem to spring open and lock on a spear shaped piece that is mounted to the lid.  This was much more simple than the hinges: just trace it where you want it and cut out the rectangle of wood.

The hard part?  I couldn’t get the mallet inside the box with the chisel to generate force like I could with the hinge mortises.  I had to rely totally on hand power to take tiny little slices of wood off with the chisel.  It took as long as it did to do two hinge mortises.  Here’s the result:IMAG3164

I did a test fit to make sure everything works.  The little six inch gnomon makes a hand lid prop.  Note on the underside of the lid, you can see the spear latch catch I mentioned above: IMAG3165Now that the hardware was installed, the next thing was to line the inside of the lid.  I had planned to remove the lid anyway because I’ll be shipping the box (I know…talk about worry…I’m going to trust this to FedEx?  Savage baggage master?) and don’t want the lid and/or hinges to get damaged by a shearing blow to the packing box.  Having the lid off made it easier to line with felt too.

I chose another color from FSU, gold.  This was even easier than lining the box—I chose to fit and cut the felt first, then spray the back of the felt and drop into place.  It was a little dicey because there was no smooth surface—everything was angles because I didn’t smooth out the inside of the lid (I knew I’d be covering it, so why bother?).   Here’s the result:IMAG3166

Not too bad, eh?

Okay, that left putting in the little rails for the inner boxes.  Nothing to see here, really.  Just two parallel square dowels nailed down with tiny 3/4″ brads to the inside of the box, about 3″ up from the floor.  When the inner boxes (trays really) sit on the rails, the tops are flush with the top of the box.  Sitting on the rails allows them to slide left and right and easily be taken out as well to access the bottom of the chest.


And there you have it!  One complete medal chest, complete with carvings.  I’m shipping it south to Florida for a surprise for Mom.  When we visit there later this month, I’ll get better pictures, complete with medals for a Project Complete post.

I don’t know what was harder—the actual building process (this is my first real, finished piece) or packaging it up and giving to the guy behind the counter at the shipping place.  It was hard to let go.  I sure hope it gets there in one piece!


About Steven M. Vaught

A native son of Delaware, now living in Illinois, Steven is a writer, family historian, amateur astronomer, sometimes-gardener, woodworker, father to three wonderful children, husband to a wonderful wife, and caretaker of one cheeky vizsla.
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One Response to [Medal Chest] It’s Done!

  1. sraffert says:

    Gorgeous! I love the use of different woods and the incorporation of a relief carving on the front! Awesome!

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