Bombe Chest on Chest – Day 3

I must say that Frank didn’t let any grass grow under his feet. I was going to say that he didn’t let any dust settle on him, but that wasn’t the case. No doubt we made a mess and a fine one at that….but when he left yesterday evening, the bottom case was standing.

Now, we went pretty quick here, but remember, I had all the patterns already made. The outside of the case still has

some hand planing and smoothing to be done, but since it will be January before Frank returns, I wanted the case locked down and standing. I will put the last two drawer dividers in so the case will be ready for bottom moldings and feet when he returns and then on to the upper case.


Let’s go to the recap in photos of what we accomplished yesterday.

We started by continuing to nibble away the majority of the material. Yesterday I told you about my miscalculation of the side thickness giving me an issue with the depth of my dado blade cut, the photos above show the continued kerfs we made and then breaking away the wedges left behind.



Then using our pattern we made yesterday, we defined the outer edges to a defined shape with the router and then planed to it, just like we did on the inner shape. (above photos). Notice that I left a section in the center as well as at the bottom and top un-nibbled….this was to allow the piece to continue to slide flat across the table saw. It also helped to stabilize the piece on its side as I used the router. Just before we hand planed the outer shape, we took a jig saw and removed most of the protrusions and then smoothed with the rest of the outer side. I also skipped over the dovetail slots on the inside, we simply slid a hand plane (long smoother) across it to get my 5/16” depth, not an issue, just take fine equal strokes checking the fit as you go.


Then we removed the top and bottom material to come to the correct height. I ran it across the table saw to be sure our top and bottom were straight and the width a consistant 7/8“. The original case sides were ¾“, I beefed them up a little to 7/8“.


The next steps was to shape the side panel profile which also has the Bombe curve to it, the exact profile that you see facing the piece.

We used some ½“ MDF and made a full size pattern with some extensions to fit into the curvature.


Then we roughed out the cut with a jig saw, then screwed the pattern on my side and using that long flush trim bit with a top bearing, we routed to shape.


The bit wouldn‘t cut all the way so we just took a hand plane and shaped to it, worked really nice.


Now, the top and bottom….When I first examined the original, I was expecting to find the top and bottom dove tailed in, but it wasn’t. It was set in a blind rabbet, glued and nailed. I followed suit, can’t be much easier than that! I did, however, use some screws rather than nails. I also used wide poplar, the original used white pine.

I will confess however that I was somewhat reluctant to use this technique on the bottom and tops, but it worked for several hundred years on the original and on my earlier builds as well. It isn’t broke, so I won’t fix it! Oddly enough, the bottom in the top case is dove tailed. Can’t tell you why, but it was. My thought is that perhaps the builder of the original was not proficient in half blind dove tails and the upper case uses through dove tails which are hidden by the belt molding, who knows, but interesting to think on!

Now, I have only one glue seam, except for the mahogany face strip, we do not want a bunch of glued up smaller pieces as they will not expand and contract at the same rate as the wider stock will.

Here is the case standing – 2 sides, top and bottom.


Next, we moved on to our dividers and drawer runners as well as installing them.

I simply used a ¼” wing cutter to cut the mortise and the tenon.

The full length sliding dove tail drawer slide will allow the sides to expand and contract, yet remain straight and true. This technique really works well. Most of the old timers, including the original, only dove tailed the front and back cross pieces, the whole side thing is my idea, but I’ve been using it for many, many years and never an issue, the cases have remained strong and true.

Using the ¾“ 14 degree dove tail bit in my router table, I milled the pins in the sides of my drawer runners and ends of my dividers, front and back. Before milling however, I used a scrap piece to set my bit in my router table. When you mill the pins on the end of your dividers, you want to be able to ‘tap‘ them in place, not have to beat them in. If you are tight dry, it will be super tight after you have applied the glue as it will cause the pins and the slot to swell.

I used Titebond III here only because I was out of the bottled hide glue which is my favorite for dove tails because it doesn‘t swell the parts as much and it adds some lubrication, it also dries really hard which is good for finishing.


Time to install the dividers and the drawer runners. We started with the longest divider so that we could lock the case in place.

Note that the front divider, the back divder as well and the FRONT ONLY of the drawer runner is glued in, but not the sides or back tenon.

Note the space in the rear that allows for expansion and contraction…A MUST!



There is one ‘dust partition’, it is located in the second divider down, it will be set in a groove all the way around. It will have a splined center, meaning a groove cut in both boards and a spline inserted, sort of like a full length biscuit and it will be glued at each end in the front and back, leaving the center to float and a gap left in the spline joint. Expansion and contraction once again.

Not sure why the original builder only used one partition, I am assuming it was to add strength to the case, so gluing the dust partition on the ends and front and back will add a lot of strength and rigidity.

By the way, that little Stanley #92 sure works great for tweaking a drawer runner dovetail.


End of Day 3 – so far we have used a 2” Flush Trim Router Bit, a ¾” 14 degree Dove Tail Bit, a Stanley #2 Rabbet Plane, a table saw, dado set, a router table and a jig saw and we have stood the lower case.


Now, come January, when Frank returns, we will resume the project and the Bombe blog, I hope you have figured out that it isn’t as hard as it looks. Teaching and working with Frank has been a pure joy, he’s pretty sharp and quite the ‘quick study’ and he did most all the ‘nibbling’ away of the material so the lifting and pushing as well as the hand planing was done by him, I uh, supervised! More me watching him, but he sure hung in there and got it done, a fine beginning and I’m very pleased.

Now, for those of you who have jumped on board to follow the blog of the Bombe, our blogs will continue and on going, will just be blogging about other projects going on here in my shop, probably not as much detail as this one or I’d never get anything built, but always enough that you are welcome to email me with any questions about what I am posting in my blog. Our newsletter will be going out toward the end of next week, it is completely free but you must subscribe, here’s the link http://charlesneilwoodworking.com/newsletters.php  if you want to check it out. Later!

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