7 November 2012

The Chuck Box Part II

 Thank you for your patience. The weather finally co-operated on my days off and I was able to snap a few more pics of the Chuck Boxes.

For clarity sake,let me name my Chuck Boxes. The smaller unit I will refer to it as The Pantry. Where as, the larger unit I will refer to it as The Kitchen. 


The Pantry - 24" Wide x 19" Tall x 18 7/8" Deep

The Kitchen - Lid - 24" Wide x 4 1/4" Tall x 18 1/8" Deep
The Kitchen - Main - 24" Wide x 25" Tall x 19 3/4 " Deep
 The Kitchen Lid is constructed of a 3/4" Plywood top and framed with 1"x3"'s. Inside the lid I fastened 6x 1" cup hooks to hang the utensils and whisks. I then added, two small eye hooks and a short piece of 1/8" bungie cord to hold the untensils in place when the lid is opened or closed. So, far the bungie cord has worked great, the utensils move a bit but they do not fall out nor get in the way of opening or closing the lid.

The top portion of The Kitchen Box is where I store my 2 burner Coleman Stove, this stove is a propane unit. My family prefers this stove to our other Coleman 2 burner that uses white gas/naphtha.

I also have a cast iron griddle that stores on top of the stove. Having enough room up top for more items, I also have plastic wrap, wax paper and tin foil, as well as a couple boxes of matches.
 I did not design nor desire to operate the stove while in the box, for a few reasons. The main reason was cleanliness, food or grease splatter would be difficult to clean from inside the box. The better solution if table space was in short supply would be to operate the stove on top of the closed Kitchen Box. 

You may notice that I have used a strip of piano hinge to attach the lid to the main box of the Kitchen. I believe this makes for a stronger unit, plus it saved me the step of trying to mount two smaller hinge units equidistant from each other. If you missed my first post on the Chuck Boxes, I fully admit to not being a carpenter nor cabinet maker.

One final point, I added the string to keep the lid from opening too far and putting too much strain on the piano hinge.
 In building these two Chuck Box units I found, although heavier, the 3/4" plywood is much easier to work with. There are fewer episodes of the wood splintering, compared to the 1/2" plywood. Just something for you to keep in mind. Also, once the unit is made from 3/4" plywood it is very strong, strong enough that I can stand on the unit if need be. 

The lower unit in the Kitchen is for storage of plates, cups, mugs, bowls, cutlery, kitchen knife set, kettles, pots with lids, cast iron frying pan, picnic table clips, measuring cup and my Coleman lantern. Not currently being stored in the Kitchen at the moment. 

The shelves on the right have an inside span of 11", enough to fit the plates and the cutlery tray. Also these shelves are almost full depth.

The shelves on the left have about a 10" span and have less than 12" in depth, so the Coleman lantern can fit in front for transport to the camping grounds.

The centre spars were made with two pieces because I ran out of 1/2" plywood. Looking back, it was good compromise because it allows light to the back of the shelves.

Note to self, if I make this project again - paint the pieces before assembly!!  My hand and arm could only reach in so far after construction.
 The Pantry. I wanted my kitchen sink to go camping, that would be that grey industrial tub on the top shelf. But, I did not have room for it in the Kitchen Box. I didn't want to make the Kitchen taller, because it would have been harder to load and unload from a vehicle. Solution build another purposeful Chuck Box.

Now that I was committed to a two box system, I had more options and more space to work with. 

First, Del Monte started to pack their fruit in plastic jars that had rings and lids like a Mason Jar. Plastic does shatter when it falls out of the cupboard. I was sold. I started buying Del Monte fruit, so I could have the plastic jars. I made the bottom shelf to fit.
The middle shelf is taller enough for boxes of Quaker instant oatmeal. Not stored in the Pantry in the off season. Currently, the middle shelf is storing empty water bottles for hiking.

During transport, you can see the kitchen sink is also useful to store the clothes pins, pot holders, oven mitts, wash cloths, garbage bags, tea towels and any spare Del Monte jars that did not find a room on the bottom shelf.

You may notice the Pantry Box is longer than my kitchen sink, so to resolve any possible issues of the kitchen sink moving around during transport, I installed a divider, which just happens to be the 
exact width for spice jars!! How lucky can you get. I know what you are thinking, how do you get all those jars out of that skinny hole?? I added a piece of cord, long enough to go there and back again. So, with the cord against the last spice jar, I would slowly add each following spice jar and slowly release tension on the cord. When all the spice jars were inserted a short piece of cord was left hanging out. The get the spice jars out at camp, simply add tension to the cord with a light pull and one by one the spice jars exited their storage place. 

I sure hope these new photos and the exterior dimensions help some of you out there. I never would have thought my original post about Chuck Boxes would have become this popular. Thank you for your interest. 

I am still searching for my original plans, but we had a move of residence from when the Chuck Boxes were built to when I started to write my blog. I have a large ominous black filing cabinet that needs attention, which I keep putting off. I am almost certain, that somewhere inside that cavernous interior I will find my missing plans. 

Until next time, Keep your kitchen tidy and your food secure!!


1 November 2012

Oldschool Blacksmithing

The Foundry at L'Anse aux Meadows
 Once again, it has been too long since my last post. Many apologizes. I know I should go to visit my Chuck boxes and gather dimensions and more photos. The weather has been less than perfect for photos, so I wait.

Another mountainman skill that most should brush up on is blacksmithing. Nothing like the smell of hot coke smoldering in the forge, with a twist of burnt used motor oil in the quenching bath and the ring of the hammer on the anvil creating a new tool or weapon from the raw ingredients from the Earth.
The Blacksmith Shop at L'Anse aux Meadows
 Aghh! And fire made it good!!

During my travels this summer I had the pleasure of visiting many blacksmith shops across the country: L'Anse aux Meadows, Nordstead, Louisbourg, Iona, Fort William, Bar U Ranch, to mention but a few. The most intriguing new discovery for myself was the anvil carried by the Vikings. Unlike the traditional English Anvil with its large footprint to secure it to the wood block the Viking Anvil was a portable anvil, quite light on about 30 - 40 pounds. However, it has a point on the bottom. It was designed to be hammered into the wood block.
The Viking Anvil at Nordstead, NLFD
 So, the Vikings would cut a block to the correct height for the blacksmith and then they would hammer the anvil until it was seated to the perfect height. If the anvil was removed, simple wood wedges were employed to re-secure the anvil to the wood block. A simple, yet ingenious method of making practical and portable tools.

Hard to believe the Vikings were able to secure a supply of iron from the bogs of L'Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland. But, legend has it the Vikings recognized the tell-tale signs of the presence of iron below the peat and with much labour were able to excavate enough "bog iron" to smelt and forge enough nails to repair a damaged long boat. Of course, this repair job took around two years - because they had to build a village to survive the approaching Winter before they could resolve to repair the vessel.

The Twin Single Bellows at L'Anse aux Meadows
The Blacksmith Shop at Fort William, ON
 The top picture is of the foundry, where the "bog iron" was transformed from muddy slime to metal, the slag was discarded on the ground, to impure to even make nails. The iron bars poured at the foundry were then taken to the blacksmith shop and with the aid of the forge and anvil transformed into the 200 to 400 nails required for the repair. The blacksmith shop had a set of twin single bellows to maintain airflow into the simple forge. But, enough heat was generated to heat the iron to a workable temperature.

Compared to the Blacksmith Shop at Fort William, near Thunder Bay, Ontario. The Viking Blacksmith Shop was quite primitive. 

The art of blacksmithing is a dying art. Once one of the most important occupations in a community, it is now merely a hobby for the many who continue to practice the art. The farrier, the blacksmith who builds horsehoes and shoes horses, is a specialty that continues on due to a love people have for their horses. But still, the numbers of farriers doe not grow and someday in the future we may run out of them, too.

As with other specialties of the blacksmith trade/art (swordsmiths, armourers, knifesmiths) there are too few, spread too far apart.

 For those wishing to learn more about this art before it is gone, I highly suggest reading and practicing the lessons taught in Alex W. Bealer's The Art of Blacksmithing available at amazon.com.

Product Details
Excellent Guide to Start From

 So, keep your fires hot and your hammer ready!