Saturday, July 27, 2013

A Necessary Tool Chest or the Many Layers of the Onion

This summer has been fairly mild and extremely wet. That's great for me, because I'm used to places that are drought plagued with the mercury regularly getting past 95 degrees before 9 o'clock. What's not great is the amount of standing water I found in the crawlspace of our house. I had about 20 board feet of white ash that was stored there due to lack of space, and as I inspected it, I found a massive infestation of wet rot. I yanked the boards out in a hurry and flooded them with ammonia in the hopes of killing off the mold and spores. After about two weeks, I think these boards are done. On two boards the mold has disappeared with only discoloration remaining, but the rest are starting to fruit again and because the mold or fungus has its own root systems, they're warped horribly in patchy spots.
Grumbling, I went down into the crawlspace again after pulling out the boards only to discover that the wet rot had spread to Lara's books, our lawn chairs, carving blanks, leg blanks, and practically anything that could support its growth. Armed with rags and a large bottle of ammonia, Lara and I cleaned all her books and assorted items of the mold, while I controlled my gag reflex. The aroma of ammonia, common blue mold, and damp books made me feel like I was trapped in the inside of a wedge of brie.
I thought the worst was over. The damaged wood was all tossed, salvageable wood was salvaged, and I was opening the door to the crawlspace regularly to try and air it out. I was working on another table and opened up my plane chest to grab my jointer only to discover that all my planes had rusted. Because the bottom is a groove fitted into the chest, the planes are up about about a half inch from the ground, and I figured they would be alright from any dampness in the ground.
Clearly that was incorrect.
I'd previously attempted to build a tool chest with overpriced, low quality wood from Lowe's. This, compounded with the fact that I didn't know to use bar clamps for edge jointing, resulted in boards that resembled very large serving platters more than anything else. Ultimately I used this wood for drawers and the like.
But this time is different. I've got three panels glued up and will put the fourth one together sometime today. Once everything is assembled, I'll nail the bottom on and start putting my planes and other tools in there. The bottom and top skirt, drawers, and lid will all come later. For right now I just need a safe place to keep my tools before they're expensive lumps of rust. 
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