|An Idiut’s Guide to Making a Storage Case|
Ed Schweinfurth and Jack Rogers presented this project at the School of Instruction and it generated
considerable interest. Before printing, however, we needed to certify the accuracy of the plan’s title.
Thus, this reporter endeavored to personally construct two storage cases and can proudly verify that it
is indeed a fully functional project for idiuts. Following this startling success, Ed suggested that your
editor would be the ideal person to communicate the plan to the targeted group of members.
Liquor storage cases, for the so-called case bottles, were very common in the 18th century and many
still survive today. With some elegant exceptions, they were crude, rapidly produced, very similar
in appearance and, while hand made, were churned out by the thousands. Reproductions of these cases are
excellent containers in which to transport and store equipment and clothing for events, especially since
poor workmanship is historically accurate. They also serve well as benches, which could help reduce the
need for the overabundance of furniture sometimes visible in our camps.
Use #2 pine from the lumberyard, which will have knots and defects. It will normally
be ¾” thick when you get it. It should be planed down to 5/8” thick. That is the only special work that
needs to be done. If you don’t know someone who has a surface planer, ask at the lumberyard or at an event
as many NWD members own one.
The wood will always be cupped one way or the other. When you cut it have the hump
upward. Knots are fine and were in the originals but lay it out so you are not cutting through a knot.
Use square nails, or in lieu of these one and one half inch box nails, put them in a
vise, clip off the heads with either tin snips or wire cutters, and use a hammer to peen over the ends to
resemble square finishing nails.
Click to enlarge
MAKING THE SHELL OF THE BOX
Cut the boards to the length in the diagram. If you would like, you can make the box
about six inches longer, about the length of adding another pair of bottles, but keep the depth the same.
Mark the rabbet joint on the face, sides and end of the board. Use the backsaw from
your miter box, or a crosscut saw, etc., to make the cut across the surface of the board. Cut the corners of
the board first so they will not splinter then keep the saw parallel to the board face and cut across the board
face until you are down to the depth marked on both sides of the board. Next, place a chisel on the line you
made on the end of the board, with the bevel of the chisel upward and the blade parallel to the board. Use a
mallet, hammer, etc., to tap the chisel in until it meets the downward sawcut you made across the face of the
board. When it does the chip of wood will pop out. When you are finished, the chisel marks will need to be
smoothed out with either a plane, file or by sanding.
Set the four pieces in position and clamp them in place. If no clamps are available a
luggage strap or even some string will due nicely. Nail them together with four or five nails per side.
MAKING THE TOP AND BOTTOM
Glue two pieces together for the top and bottom in order to make them wide enough. You
don’t need dowels, etc., just glue the edges together. If you have clamps use them, if not put glue on just one
edge then press the two edges against each other. Move the edges back and forth against each other several times
until you feel them begin to bind up against each other and become harder to move…when that happens just let them
sit until dry.
Cut the bottom to size and nail it flat onto the bottom of the shell. Cut the top to
size, then cut 1 by 3/8” inch molding strips to be nailed around the top using miter joints on the corners.
If you would like you can bevel the bottom of the molding inward but it is not necessary. Attach the top with
cotter key style hinges (original) or nailed on leather hinges (replacement look). If replacement style is used
remember to drill holes and enlarge them where the original hinges would have been.
Plane or sand the joints, but remember they do not have to be perfect as many originals
were shoddily made. Two big things you do not want, however, are marks from surface planers and circular saws.
Remember to get them off either with a hand plane or by sanding.
Use a knife to cut crude shipping numbers into the end of the box…two to four numbers
mixed with letters.
Make the keyhole and drill four nail holes in a square around it. They held the lock
(on the inside of the box) so no actual lock is needed. Most originals no longer have the lock on them anyway.
Use simple iron handles or a replacement style of leather or rope or no handles at all,
but remember to make holes where the original handles would have been.
Paint it with dark red, grey, black, bluish green or green milk paint or flat latex paint.
Use a bristle brush so it will leave brush marks as on the originals.