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Treasure Chest


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What little boy wouldn't love to find one of these in their back yard!?!  I looked in vain, all over the internet, for a simple plan for a Pirates Treasure Chest. So I decided to just make my own. I settled on box joints for the corners because they are very simple to make and really strong. Since this will be a Christmas present for my grandson, I better get to work!
The box is made of 1/4" maple. You can use that or pine or what ever you wish. You can purchase wood already planed to 1/4" or you can make your own. You can do this on the table saw but I think the band saw is far safer. All you need to get a somewhat straight cut is a block of wood clamped to the band saw's table. Since I'm going to split 3/4" stock , I'll set the corner of my block 3/8" from the center of the blade. (see the pic at left).
Now it's simple work to feed the stock into the blade, and use the block as a pivot to keep the blade in the middle of the stock. Yes yo do this by "eye" You can do it! And you don't have to be perfect here, just close.
I like to use a 5/8" 3TPI Hook blade when I resaw lumber like this. It's a good blade for removing large amounts of wood from the kerf quickly. 

Here is another pic of how the block works. Now the blade is not moving here, I'm just holding the stock with my left hand and shootin the pic with my camera in the right. 

Remember we're going to plane the wood down to 1/4" so the quality of this cut is not important! So long as you have a little over 1/4" on each side, you'll be fine!

Ah, now doesn't that look nice LOL! Actually it's fine and will plane out nicely!
Determine the thickest part of the stock and set the planer for that size and clean that stuff up till you reach 1/4". I like to take 1/32" at a time, especially when milling maple. 
Ok, now that we have our stock, cut the parts to lenght, plus 1/16". That will leave an extra 1/32" on the fingers that will be sanded smooth after assembly. 

Learn how to make the box joint and assemble a box.

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Ah! Now that looks pretty good! Now to do the same with the lid parts. A little more difficult, because there are less fingers to help hold everything in alinement while the glue dries. Use squares and clamps to help hold things in alighment durning the glueup.
But before the lid parts can be assembled, the sides must be cut out with their radius. As you can see from the pic at left, I tried a few different radi, but settled on the one made by tracing a gallon paint can. Use the bandsaw to carefully trim the top of that finger, then rough cut the radius.
Now use your drum sander to clean up the top. You won't be able to get in close where the curve meets the fingers, so you will need to cut up close to the line carefull with the bandsaw or by hand. Don't try handsanding this area, as you will likely round over the area and spoil the side.
Ok now the fun begins! This step looks more difficult that it is. Start with 3/4" stock and rip it into 1/4" strips about 1/8" longer than the top is wide. You'll need about 13 of these pieces, but cut a couple of extras just in case. Now lay in the first piece next to the fingers at the bottom. You can see in the pic at left that you need an angle trimmed on one edge to mate against the finger. You can do this easily by hand with block plane. The joint doesn't need to be perfect, we're making a Pirates chest here, not a music box, the project should look rustic!
Now you only need to bevel one edge of each slat piece. Leave the other edge at 90 degrees and bevel the next piece to match the first. I used a little glue on each long joint and a bit on the side. Predrill for a 1/2" brad and secure one side before drilling the other side of the slat. 
Clamp each piece and let dry before going on to the next piece. go up to the top then start over on thr other side. when you get close, fit the last two pieces together to make up for any varriance. It's possible to wind up with 3/4" on noe end of the slat and 5/8" on the other. This is ok, just taper the two pieces alittle till they fit. 
Remember the inside of the lid will be rough and probably have some glue drips. It's up to you if you want to clean it up or leave it rough. Also there will be some small gaps where the flat slats meet the curved side piece. You can fill with puddy or leave it alone. Again it's suppose to look rustic! 
You can clean up the top by hand or with some power. I used my Jet 12" disk sander to clean up where the slats overhang the sides, and to round out the top. Take great care doing this, as the right side of the wheel will try to lift your workpiece.
You can also use a random orbital sander with some 60 grit to round things out. You may find you need to set those nails abit more as you remove more and more from the slats.
Yikes! A couple of coats of ebony stain and some chain and we're starting to look like something! But, before I stained my chest, I "distressed" it just a bit. That means I beat it with a chain, punched a few holes in it with an awl, and dented up the edges, just to make it look like it's a hundred years old!
As an after thought, I thought I needed a lip to help the lid stay aligneed with the bottom part. So I glued in a 3/4" strip to the lid eith epoxy and clamped it with clothespins.
I decided we needed a skull and crossbones on the lid, so i thought I would try some decoupage. I went online and found some clip art, and enlarged it to about 2" across, and printed it out. 
Pretty simple, use white glue and coat the back of the clipart, and carefull place it where you want.
Then coat the front with a lite coat of 3 parts white glue and one part water. I tried to blot off the excess water and glue around the edges.
Now that doesn't look too bad! Later I'll spray the box with a satin poly in a can. About three coats should do it, then a scotch bright pad to remove any gloss.
My Treasure Chest isn't as "Distressed" as I would like, but it definately shows signs of wear. I plan to fill the chest with candy money "treasure" and a treasure map! 

With a little more effort, these plans could easily be modified to create a lovely jewelry box too! Lined in felt and adding a tray would transform this surly chest into a refined display case!

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