HB Hobby Tansu #1-Part 15-Complete

Over the course of this past week I applied three coats of Tried & True Original oil finish to the Hillbilly Hobby Tansu.  I also used the evenings this week to tie and ready the “hardware”.  All of the pulls are simple grommets hardened with CA glue.  They are attached to the drawers with a loop created by tying a lanyard knot.  The loose ends are fed through the hole in the drawer front and secured with an overhand knot and a drop a CA glue.

Right from the start I knew that I wanted some sort of latch for the large bottom drawer.  A latch would prevent the drawer from coming open when the tansu is being transported from place to place.  The original  inspiration for this project had an elaborate steel lock and I liked the idea of it.  After searching around on the internet I found a site that sold “locks” with a Japanese tansu look to them.  The website was a little lacking in description but I took a chance and ordered.  What I received was not a lock, but simply a latch.  It is all metal and works well for what I need, but I do wish that it was an actual lock.  Anyway, installation was simple and it serves its purpose.

With all of the hardware installed this project is complete and ready to be stuffed full and put to work.

I’m happy with how this one turned out.  My intent was not to copy the original, but to use it for inspiration to create my own version.  Just as a refresher.

I’m glad there are folks out there who build faithful reproductions of antique pieces but its not my thing.  I’ve followed along with magazine articles and videos in the past to build projects and it always left me feeling a little empty.  While following along with a demonstrated project is a great way to learn techniques, the resultant project never felt like it was mine.  I whole heartedly encourage you to make each project your own.  You don’t have to design something from scratch, just change a few details that speak to you and put you own unique stamp on it.  Will it always turn out the way you hoped?  Maybe, maybe not, but your projects will be unique and rewarding.  Plus, you’ll be surprised at how much you will learn and expand your skills.

Well, that brings an end to projects in my little shop.  The next six to eight weeks will be consumed with renovating our “new-to-us” home, packing, moving and unpacking.  Then I’ll have to carve out a space at the new house for a shop.  I’m excited to take what I’ve learned in my current shop and apply it to setting up a new space.

Keep an eye out for big changes and new projects in the near future.

Part 14 Greg Merritt

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HB Hobby Tansu #1-Part 14

I took advantage of the cool temps this morning and got out in the shop early.  I started off with trimming and flushing up the removable panel.  When it was just a piece of 1/2″ pine, it felt a little flimsy and delicate.  I was a little worried about how well it would hold up.  Now that it is completed with the addition of the decorative scroll panel and the top rail it feels very solid.  The center portion of the scroll panel creates a perfect finger hold for lifting the panel and whole assembly has a pleasing weight to it as you do.



Next up was the hardware.  I’ll be using knotted ring pulls on all of the drawers and I purchased a Japanese style latch (sneak peek in the above photos) for the large bottom drawer.  So I drilled all of the holes in the drawer fronts for the ring pulls and fitted the latch.  I’ll go into more detail on the latch when I post about the actual installation of the hardware.

Then I tackled the uzukuri treatment on all of the exterior surfaces.  Leaving the interior drawer fronts untouched.  I think it will make a nice contrast when the panel is removed to reveal the smooth interior drawers.  The uzukuri treatment is pretty straight forward and went fairly quickly.  I really do wish there was a way to allow you to touch the surface it leaves.  Very pleasing.  You can read more about the tools and the technique here and here.

All that remained was to slather on a coat of BLO, let it soak in and wipe everything dry.  Tomorrow I’ll add a coat of Tried and True and repeat the process over the course of the coming week.


It looks as though this will be my last project in this little shop.  A change of residence is imminent and a new shop space will have to be worked out.  The good news is that there should be a long list of new projects coming soon.

Part 13 Greg Merritt Part 15


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HB Hobby Tansu #1-Part 13

Close…but no cigar.

The goal for today was to complete the construction of the hobby tansu.  Leaving just the decorative elements, hardware and finishing.  I almost made it.  The only construction element left will be to trim and finish plane the top rail of the removable panel.

In reality I accomplished quite a bit today.  I realized that it would be much more efficient, if not easier, to add my planned decorative details to the removable panel before I assembled it.  So the day started with the fabrication of a template for the scroll detail of the front panel.  I simply used a piece of scrap 6mm ply and followed my drawing.

Early on I hatched the idea for the unifying decorative element for this project.  That being the use of texture stamps with those areas being darkened with a wood burning tool.  the first example of this was the recessed area of the handles.  The scroll will continue the this idea.  Create an outline with the kolrosing technique and stamp in some texture.  Then have at it with the wood burner.  Its far too complicated to explain so I’ll take the lazy way out and just show you a photo.



Since I had the wood burning tool out and heated up, I went ahead and burned in the detail for the beads on the drawer fronts.


Then I got a little carried away with the wood burner…


All the wood burning detail is complete.  Trust me, the hardware will bring it all together…at least I’m pretty sure it will.


The last detail that was completed today was the cove for the feet cutouts.


Tomorrow may actually see the first coat of BLO go on.

Greg Merritt



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HB Hobby Tansu #1-Part 12

It took a week longer than planned, but…all of the drawers are finally built and fitted.  Heck I’ve even started adding the decorative details to them.  First and foremost is the bead detail.  I can easily create a nice sharp corner on pine, but I learned long ago that expecting that sharp corner to survive was pure folly.  The bead detail prevents chipping and also does a good job of hiding the inevitable dents and dings.  Plus, I think it looks pretty snazzy.

hb-hobby-26I added a little Hillbilly Inlay to the large side drawer.  Hey, it’s what I do.  I also stamped in a little texture as well.  I’ll take the wood burner to those areas so that they will have the same look as the inset handles. Continue reading

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HB Hobby Tansu #1-Part 11

Well…some progress is better than no progress.

The weather here continues to be brutal.  Hot and very humid.  I’m starting to adjust to it though and have been able to work in the shop after work a couple of evenings over the past week.  This allowed me to complete the construction of two drawers, glue them together and finally fit them.

Nothing new as far as the construction.  Pegged lapped dovetails at the front and a pegged finger joint at the rear.  The 6mm birch ply bottom is installed in grooves that run down the sides and across the front.  It is then pegged to the rear of the drawer. Continue reading

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HB Hobby Tansu #1-Part 10

Most of use who work wood as a hobby struggle to find time in the shop.  Day jobs and family come first of course.  The remaining time is typically restricted by the noise generated and the weather.  Some are working in apartments, have close neighbors or are working in attached garages or basements and noise becomes an issue.  Then there is the weather.  Many struggle in the winter months with unheated work spaces others struggle with the summer heat.

hb-hobby-38Far and away, summer presents the most challenging time for me and my woodworking.  There are several chores that need to be completed to maintain my property and home.  Not the least of which is mowing grass.  But the heat and humidity are the real show stoppers for me and this summer has already proven to be particularly challenging.  Spring weather lasted for what seemed only about four days and then the heat came on.

Today was the first day since last weekend that I had any time to be in the shop.  I lasted about  three hours and had to throw in the towel.  86ºF and 68% humidity take a quick toll.

I did manage to size and thickness the sides and rear of the larger interior drawer.  I even managed to cut all the joinery for that drawer including the grooves for the drawer bottom.  The large exterior drawer received sides and they were dovetailed to the front.  hb-hobby-37

That’s it.  Pitiful I know, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.

Greg Merritt

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HB Hobby Tansu #1-Part 9

I braved the heat and humidity and spent most of the day in the shop.  The plan for the day was to clean up the case that I assembled yesterday.  So I sharpened my plane irons and went to work flushing all of the outer surfaces.  The only tricky bit for this is trying to figure out how to hold the thing.  Part of the work was done with the case on the bench and secured with a clamp that, in turn, was secured in the vice.  The other holding method I employed was to prop the case up on my trestles and brace the case against the front of the bench.  I worked methodically around the case until I was done. Continue reading

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