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Cypress Chest Washington DC

Storage is like money; we never seem to have enough. Well, I can’t help you much with your finances, but I can give you a hand on the storage front. A frequently overlooked storage area is outdoors. I’m not talking about another tool shed, but a beautiful chest designed to store the smaller outdoor amenities we use everyday, such as cushions for deck furniture, pool toys or even gardening supplies.

The Home Depot
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Cypress Chest

Cypress Chest

Beautiful outdoor storage made to take the elements.

by Dave Munkittrick

Storage is like money; we never seem to have enough. Well, I can’t help you much with your finances, but I can give you a hand on the storage front. A frequently overlooked storage area is outdoors. I’m not talking about another tool shed, but a beautiful chest designed to store the smaller outdoor amenities we use everyday, such as cushions for deck furniture, pool toys or even gardening supplies. This elegant chest is a real eye-catcher with ample storage designed to keep the contents dry and clean.

I used cypress to build this chest. It’s a beautiful, cream-colored wood similar in appearance to a light-colored cedar or fir. Cypress is about 50 percent harder than clear cedar but about half the cost (see Sources, page 68). Cypress is a rot-resistant member of the pine family native to swampy areas in the Southern United States. It’s a stable wood, meaning it won’t expand and contract a lot with the seasons. Cypress also machines well and takes any finish.

The top sheds rainfall because the lid has a broad overhang and its hinge creates a gentle slope. 

A chamfered bottom rail prevents rainwater from pooling and eventually causing decay.

A deck-like bottomwith gaps between the boards allows air to circulate to prevent mold or mildew. A galvanized metal screen called hardware cloth is mounted under the decking to keep unwanted critters out.

Build the Legs and Rails

If your lumber is kiln-dried and your chest will be kept outdoors, I recommend stacking your lumber in a covered area outside for several weeks before you build. Kiln-dried cypress will have around 8 percent moisture content; you can expect it to stabilize around 12 percent after it’s been outside. 

1. Sort your wood and select the best-looking pieces for the lid (A) and front panel (B). Rough-cut your stock according to the Cutting List (see page 68), but leave everything oversize by at least 1/2-in. in length. Parts made from glued-up stock (G through L) should initially be cut an extra 1/2 in. wide.

2. Use a waterproof glue, like Titebond III, to face-glue three pieces of 3/4-in. stock for each leg (G). Glue up two pieces for the rail stock (H through L). Make an extra leg blank and an extra rail to test setups. Mark the best-looking face on each piece. 

3. Trim the leg blanks to size after the glue has dried (Photo 1). Don’t cut the tapers yet. The grooves and mortises are cut while the leg blank is still square.

4. Lay out the groove location and the taper (Figs. B and C, below) on each leg. Position the legs on your bench just as they’ll be on the chest to make sure you’ve got everything oriented correctly.

5. Cut the stopped grooves on each leg (Photo 2; Fig. B). It takes two fence settings to complete the two grooves. The first groove is cut with an outside ...

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