Wooden storage chest (providing a home for cycling stuff)

Back when I decided to get a bike and use the car less, I thought it would make life simpler. In some ways it has – ditching the gym membership and exercising while commuting has given more free time and also turned the worst part of the day into the most enjoyable part. However I never really comprehended the added complication of all the stuff needed to ride a bike.

The other day a friend emailed me with a link to a new road bike he’s considering buying. Like many other people he wants to get into cycling but hasn’t actually owned a bike since he was a teenager and has never owned a road bike. I said the bike looked good and made some well-intentioned comments about the frame, groupset and gear ratio which were almost certainly confusing and completely unhelpful. I also said that he should consider the cost of buying pedals, helmet, shoes, shorts, jersey, waterproofs, leggings, lights, bottle & bottle cage, spare inner tube, pump, multitool, saddlebag, tyre levers and a speedometer. It wasn’t my intention to scare him off but I never heard back!

As well as recently confusing and scaring friends I’ve also been irritating my wife. Every evening I leave little cycling nests around the house in preparation for the next day: helmet, gloves and glasses by the back door; jacket, shorts and jersey at the top of the stairs; water bottle, hat and Garmin at the bottom of the stairs; pannier bag in the corner of the kitchen. To me it all makes perfect sense and my morning routine involves visiting each nest in succession as I turn from zombie into cyclist. But to my wife it’s just a bunch of annoying, ugly clutter that needs a home. So in order to maintain marital harmony (and mostly just to keep myself busy) I decided to build myself a large, permanent nest in the form of a wooden storage chest from old scaffolding boards.

Restoring old scaffolding boards required a lot of sanding

The first step was to cut the boards to the approximate length. This also allowed me to cut out any excessively damaged parts. I then joined boards in pairs using dowelled, butt joints. Any gaps between the boards were filled using a wood-coloured filler before sanding smooth.

I decided to join the corners of the chest with mitres as cut ends of scaffolding boards would have been too rough. I don’t (yet) own a table saw so this required some careful cutting. Fortunately, however, I am now the proud new owner of a router which I used to cut grooves for the base board of the box. I decided to use plywood for the base to keep the overall weight of the box to a minimum.

Mitred corners and a groove for the base board. Note the newly purchased router (my cycling equipment is still inferior to my tool arsenal)

Box glued and strapped

For added strength I then decided to dowel the mitred corners.

Dowelled corners

After more sanding I applied a clear varnish to the top. However once dried I wasn’t happy with the colour. I think the scaffolding boards are pine which can sometimes turn a bit yellowish under a clear varnish. So I decided to go for an ‘antique oak’ stain with a clear varnish to give a more rugged look. Unfortunately this meant more sanding of the top to take it back to the natural wood.

The top with clear varnish – the box with ‘antique oak’ stain and clear varnish

I recently found a local reclamation yard which sells a few pieces of new, hand-made, forged ironmongery. I headed over there and found some great looking handles and hinges for the box.

Hand made hinge

Handle

It’s difficult to tell from the photos, but the box measures approximately 1 metre x 45 cm (3ft x 1 & 1/2 ft). This should be ample space for my current cycling equipment plus a few inevitable future purchases.

The permanent nest at the bottom of the stairs

et voila!

My only concern is that it actually looks a bit prettier than intended and may subsequently be commandeered by my wife to become a much needed table / footstool in the lounge. I suppose at least then I can return to my systematic and completely logical nesting routine guilt-free!

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