Double Duty
This chest works as a file cabinet and a table.
Set this file chest next to your favorite easy chair to serve the usual end table purposes, and when you lift the hinged stay-open top, your personal papers are at your disposal. The chest is sized to accommodate both legal-size and letter-size papers and hanging files. Its simple styling matches that of our combination table-chest. There is an important difference between the two pieces, however. Aside from its filing capability, this chest’s generous proportions permit it to swallow anything from a couple of small pillows to a blanket--or just about anything else lying around and cluttering the view of your family room. Likewise, its size and styling make it suitable as an elevated blanket chest in a bedroom or loft. And, if your shop is modestly equipped, you’ll like the fact that it’s easy to build.

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Making Panels
To get started, rip and crosscut the stock for the front, back and side panels to the sizes indicated in the accompanying drawing. For the top, cut all three boards about 1 in. oversize in length. The two outside boards are cut about 1/2 in. oversize in width while the center board is cut to the 6-in. finished width. This allows for trimming the top to size.

Arrange the boards back to back in a vise and, using a square, mark the dowel centerlines across both edges. Then, always working the same side of a doweling jig to the face of the workpieces, bore the dowel holes (Photo 1).

The end tenons on the side panels must be cut before the paired boards are edge glued. For best results, add an auxiliary fence to the saw’s miter gauge, and clamp a stop block to the fence to ensure that the rabbet cuts are of uniform size. Using a dado blade, make a cut on the face of the workpieces. Then raise the blade to project 1 in., and pass each board over the blade on edge to form the tenon (Photo 2).

Prepare for edge gluing by readying three bar or pipe clamps, four small clamps and four cauls. Apply paste wax to the cauls so they don’t get glued to the panel. Tap the dowel pins into their holes and then apply glue to the panel edges (Photo 3).

Join the pieces. Then alternately apply pressure to the bar clamps and to the caul clamps to close the joint and to keep the panel from buckling (Photo 4).

Use a belt and finish sander to dress the panel faces. Then use a 4-in. hand file or a chisel to round the tenons (Photo 5).

To complete the panels, cut the rabbets for the bottom (Photo 6). Next, use a router with a straight bit to cut the hinge rabbet. Then switch to a 1/16-in. rounding-over bit to ease the panels’ exposed edges.

1-Use a dowel jig to bore holes in the panel edges. A piece of tape on the drill bit serves as a depth stop.
2-Cut the tenons using a dado blade, and a stop block clamped to the auxiliary fence on the miter gauge.
3-Tap the dowel pins into their holes with a mallet and then spread a thin layer of glue on the edges of each board.
4-Cross cauls keep the panel from bowing as you apply clamping pressure. Glue will not stick to waxed cauls.
5-Round the tenons using a rasp or by paring with a chisel. Note that the rasp has edges that are not serrated.
6-Using a dado head and an auxiliary fence on the table saw, cut the rabbet that the bottom panel fits in.

Making The Legs
Make the legs from two 45-in.-long blanks, which you’ll later cut into four finished lengths. The legs require that three pieces of wood be glued together. The center piece is sawed from a thicker piece. Be sure to use a smooth cutting blade, the saw’s antikickback splitter, a feather board and a pushstick for this operation (Photo 7).

Glue and clamp the leg pieces (Photo 8). To keep the pieces from sliding out of alignment during clamping, bore two 3/32-in. holes in the ends of the blanks, and use 2-in.-long finishing nails as alignment pins. The pins are inserted in an area to be cut off.

Mark the mortise locations on each leg, and be sure to arrange the legs so that the surfaces showing the glue joint face the chest’s ends. Mark each leg mortise with centerlines 3/8 in. apart, and then bore the mortise holes (Photo 9). Trim the mortise to finished dimension (Photo 10).

Use a jig to cut the leg tapers. Place the leg between the rear stop and the front notched block, and make two cuts. The notched block is tack nailed so it projects 1 in. from the guide board. Make a taper cut on two adjacent faces, and then reposition the block so the notch projects 1-3/8 in. Cut the remaining tapers (Photo 11).

Then use a router to ease their corners (Photo 12).

7-Resaw the center piece for the leg blanks carefully. To do this safely, use a feather board and a kerf splitter.
8-Mark grain direction on the leg blank pieces. Then glue and clamp them using nails as alignment pins.
9-Bore the mortise holes in the leg blanks on the drill press. The blank is positioned by two fences.
10-Chisel the waste from the leg mortises. The mortise ends are round and match the shape of the tenons.
11-Cut the leg tapers using a jig on the table saw. The jig’s notched block is repositioned after two cuts.
12-Use a router table, or clamp the router in a vise, and use a rounding-over bit to ease the sharp edges on the legs.

Before gluing the parts together, make a dry assembly to prepare the necessary cauls. Check the clamp adjustments and the fit of parts.

Do the gluing in two stages. Apply glue only on the short end panels and legs. Then make a temporary complete assembly. When the glue has dried, remove the clamps. Then glue and clamp the long side panels to the preglued end subassemblies (Photo 13).

Cut the bottom panel to size and attach it with screws. Trim the top to size. Rip and crosscut its cleats, and bore the holes in them. The two outside holes are oversize to permit the lid to move with changing humidity.

Bore the pilot holes for the hinge, lid supports and cleats. First, install the hinge at the back, then lay the table on its back to join the second leaf of the hinge to the lid. Attach the lid support in the same manner (Photo 14). Attach the cleat with screws only, not glue.

After finish sanding, we applied three coats of clear satin polyurethane. The first coat was tinted with yellow ochre universal color, available at art supply stores.

13-Glue and clamp the subassemblies and panels. The clamps on the ends ensure proper alignment.
14-Attach the lid supports to the side panels first, then to the lid. The cleats are attached last.
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