Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Frame and Panel Chest Lid

When I built my tool chest last year, I seriously considered opting for a one wide board top like the vast majority of chests I’ve seen. I'm used to them and the construction process is stupid easy. The major downside is that no board that wide would stay still through the changing seasons. I anticipated constantly battling the lid being too tight or too loose. Though typical in traditional chests, I think this would drive me nuts so I opted to follow Chris’s advice and make the lid in a frame and panel style. Yeah, it’s a little fancier than necessary but, dang, it’s a good idea.

Every year as the seasons change I get calls from people telling me their furniture is acting weird. Drawers are stuck, veneer is popping off, etc. The radical fluctuations of relative humidity in these times do a real job on wooden furniture. I was curious to see how much (if any) my chest lid would move into and out of winter. Guess how much movement there was? Absolutely positively none. The lid performed exactly the same (air-whooshing friction fit) every single day since I installed the hinges. Honestly, I was really surprised at how well it worked.

I see a lot of wide boards warp and shrink in the objects in my studio. It’s par for the course. I appreciate the simplicity of a one board top but sometimes you just got stop friggin around and opt for deluxe. If you’re looking for a recommendation about whether you should invest the time in a frame and panel lid, you now know what I’ll say.


  1. I completely forgot I wanted to build one of those chests from Christopher Schwarz' book. I think I haven't even read the whole book yet, I think I got stuck within the list of tools. Need to cough up the money for the rasps still. Those hand made ones are really expensive.

    Thanks for this follow up.

    - Bea

  2. Don't wait for the rasps! You can manage with what you have in the shop. I once made a saw handle with a coping saw, dull rat tail and cross cut file. I "made" rasps from off cuts and 80 grit paper. Did it take me longer? sure... but the job still looked wonderful.