I have built a wooden chest and lid. It will likely have people sitting on it. It's about 36 inches wide, 20 inches deep, and 20 inches high.

A sketch of the frame can be seen here: https://www.tinkercad.com/things/iK2g60WCdmG

The frame was made from 2x4s (douglas fir) and the panels from fence posts (cedar wood).

I finished it with oil-based polyurethane.

When I rest the lid on, it rocks slightly. If you sit on it, it is very solid, but I can imagine that the rocking could put a bit of strain on the hinges. I'm also not totally sure how the polyurethane surfaces will do in direct contact with each other.

The alternative is to get some little rubber stoppers (eg https://www.amazon.com/Cabinet-Adhesive-Dampening-Especial-Circular/dp/B07S646BZN?ref_=ast_slp_dp) and put 4 or 6 or whatever onto the lid (I was thinking the 4 corners + the middle of the long length.

The question is would be better to have the little rubber stoppers (how many and where?) or just let the coated wood lid sit on the chest.

It will be closed for probably months at a time. Sat on infrequently, but maybe daily. Just wondered if anyone with more experience would have a view on how to finish this project.

The current plan is that I'll just screw in a couple of little brass hinges and maybe add a chain inside to prevent the lid from opening too far. Any thoughts on better/prettier/more interesting ideas are also welcome.

Photos of the incompleted chest:



Incidental thoughts:

After making this I thought that the framing idea might not be so good because of lateral wood expansion. I have left a little space between the panels and it's going to be indoors, but still. I also made sure that the panels were orientated parallel to the longest edge. Time will tell if this will be enough. I also simplified the jointing for the framing a little bit from what I had in the tinkercad.

Feel free to weigh in on this or anything else. I'd love to learn from people who know what they're doing!

  • Thanks for the question. Bear in mind most of those external links will be dead in an internet moment, so make sure anything important is attached to the quesiton directly. You can attach images easily to Q&A so that everything is one place.
    – jdv
    Nov 18 '19 at 15:13

The ideal fix here is arguably to get the lid to sit flat on its own, but that may involve disassembly. The other option is a tweak to one or both hinge installations but that's not that easy to do. So why not install rubber pads if they'll do what you need?

As to how many, well how many does it take? No way anyone can answer that without the thing in front of them, and even then finding out empirically may be the only good way to do it*.

I'm also not totally sure how the polyurethane surfaces will do in direct contact with each other.

They should be fine once the varnish has fully cured. Assume this will take 30 days to be on the safe side.

If you get slight issues with sticking paste wax will sort that out for you.

After making this I thought that the framing idea might not be so good because of lateral wood expansion.

The elephant in the room really. Don't know what kind of swings in humidity and temperature you get where you are, but if there's a fair change in RH from the wettest to the driest months you can expect a fair amount of movement in wood. You've allowed for some movement and that could be enough. But as you say yourself, time will tell.

For future reference on this, either fully float a panel that's made from solid wood (as in frame-and-panel cabinet doors). Or use ply or MDF for the panel so it doesn't have any appreciable movement.

*This will be somewhat like levelling table legs with adjustable feet, where you have to try things until you're done.

  • Thanks. That's very useful. Paste wax is a good idea. 30 days also makes some amount of sense. I probably would have rushed it...
    – Dr Xorile
    Nov 18 '19 at 16:56
  • What are the pros and cons of having the hinge mounted inside vs outside the box
    – Dr Xorile
    Nov 18 '19 at 17:14
  • Ideal hinge mounting is partly based on the hinge style, some can be both surface-mounted and in shallow mortises while others are expressly intended for one or the other. Surface-mounted hinges are generally easier to install. Good news is there's lots of good guidance online about hinge mounting, including on YT so you can watch it being done rather than going by still pictures and associated text (not that those can't be perfectly satisfactory).
    – Graphus
    Nov 18 '19 at 17:41

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