A Coopered Lid for a Steamer Trunk
A new woodworker is preparing to build a sort of steamer-trunk-inspired chest with a curved lid. He was a bit daunted by the idea of cutting the staves for the top and asked for some assistance. One option for working out the bevel angle required would be to lay out the cross section full size. You’d draw the arc, divide it into the number of staves you want, and draw the seam lines between them. You could lift the bevel angles from the drawing using a sliding T-bevel. But how to accurately divide the arc by the number of staves?
Another good option is to draw it digitally using SketchUp. You can leverage the way SketchUp represents curves with short line segments for this in much the same way I did for the hood on the old cradle from a few weeks back. In the case of this trunk, there’s to be 12 staves, so a default 12-sided arc drawn with the 2-point Arc Tool is perfect. And the Arc Tools in SketchUp automatically make all of the segments the same length.
In this video, I show how to draw the coopered top for the chest and how to find the bevel angles for the staves. This is all done with the native tools so there’s nothing to install before you get started.