A Sliding Till

I was working my way towards gluing up the dovetail joints on my unconventional bible box and I was facing a delima. Did I want to add a till to the piece or not? The answer was yes and no.

Broadly defined a till is a smaller storage space inside of a chest. Traditionally bible boxes had a static till fit into dadoes with a lid similar to the one I placed inside this Hutch Chest I built a while ago. I have done several of these styles of till and they are both challenging and satisfying, but this time I had something else in mind.
The other type of device that comes to mind when I hear the word till is the sliding variety, like those found in traditional tool chests
This picture was borrowed from Chris Schwarz blog at Lost Arts Press. Since he is the reigning king of the traditional tool chest at this time I figured I had to give a little shout out to him while I was at it.
This was the type of till I wanted to install. I've been ramping up to build a traditional tool chest myself, more on that in the future, but what I was getting now was a little dry run at fitting one, albeit on a smaller and less finicky scale.

The first thing to do was install some runners for the till to slide back and forth on. I had used black walnut as a accent wood on the outside of the box so I decided to repeat it's presence inside. On the bandsaw I cut a couple thin runners a 1/4 inch thick and planed them up smooth at the bench.
Then I predrilled and countersunk some screw holes and installed them with a little glue and a couple of screws each.
The more I thought about the small sliding till I was working on here the more I decided to do the opposite of the wood scheme I had used on the outside of the box. I decided to use walnut for the majority of the box and then accent it with the red oak.
The important thing about fitting a till is the tolerances. You might almost fool yourself into thinking a slightly lose fit would be the way to go. That would mean no sticking, right. But the truth is that a snug fit is a better idea because then the till will ride straight on the rails and not shift crooked and impinge itself. A snug fit makes the till easier to move one handed. I sized the bottom of the till first, with that done I could build up from there.
Resaw some more walnut to about 3/8ths thick, mark and cut some dovetails and you have yourself a box.
A little planing to get a perfect fit and it was ready for me to make the lid.
I took my red oak stock I had left and resawed a thinner section, again around 3.8ths thick. I didn't want the lid to be a let down after all the carving on the outside of the box. I chose to just go for a simple arch pattern. I nailed it to the bench and scribed the arch lines with a pair of dividers.
This is a very quick and simple pattern and it took less than 20 minutes with the "V" tool to finish it off. I eased the lip to a slight bullnose with a block plane.
Then it was the moment of truth as I dropped the till into place. I was really happy with the way it turned out, in the end I think it was a decent decision. It allows the owner to keep some small items or even remove the till and use it seperately if they desire.

After this I put a couple coats of my Maloof finish (1 part BLO, 1 part Wipe on Poly, and 1 part Tung Oil) The oils deepened the walnut and darkened the oak and mellowed out the difference in contrast. I will have some good pictures of the finished piece up here soon so until next time.

Ratione et Passionis

Read more about the Unconventional Bible Box and the rest of the building process HERE
Read more about the Medieval Hutch Chest HERE


  1. The whole project looks great. Can't wait to see how the carvings look after the finish is applied.


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