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The Newsleter for the North West Department
Brigade of the American Revolution
Spring 2001
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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.

PREPARATION
  • 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.

    FINISHING
  • 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.

  • TOP
    The Brigade of the American Revolution was established in 1962 as a nation, not for profit, historical association dedicated to recreating the and times of the common soldier of the War of Independence, 1775 – 1783. The NWD was established in 1976. Extracted passages are for scholarly comment alone.
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