Making a tin foot warmer.

Anyone who is a fan of old tools, barns, bridges and all things nostalgic must be a fan of books and art by the late Eric Sloane. I have a few of his books and have completely worn the cover and binding apart on my first copy of A Reverence for Wood. Another favorite is A Diary of An Early American Boy, Noah Blake 1805 (Oh to know whatever really happened to Sarah Trowbridge..).  Mr. Sloanes books are filled with drawings of traditional tools and workspaces that have been a great source of inspiration to me, and many others I am sure.  To me the drawings offer a clear idea of the tool or object, with the distractions of photographic details.  For example:

This drawing of a tin footwarmer cleary shows what the object is and what it does. I have wanted to make one of these for a long time.  You can find several designs in books and they seem to pop up in various forms in antique shops now and then.

Since I don't have an antique of my own to measure for a pattern I had to work from drawings and photographs in books and online to get my dimensions.  The design I ended up with is a little bigger than the average sizes listed. The actual tin box is about 7" tall and deep. Here is my pattern set in progress.

The trickiest part for me to work out was the door opening and verticle corner connections. I don't know how most of the antiques are joined, but I used a lock joint on two corners to connect the two halves.  The only solder on the whole project is on the door hinges. My doors ended up a little crooked. It is becoming more and more apparent how close you have to stay to a line to keep things square.

I was going to try to make the wooden frame with all hand tools. But by the time I got two tin boxes finished my patience was pretty well shot. So I cheated a little on the yellow pine frames.  Most of the original designs I looked at had mortice and tenon joints on the top and bottom frames.  I did lap joints on the corners and nailed the inserts in place.

So here are the two finished foot warmers.  Instead of making trays to hold hot coals we will be heating cut brick for the heat source. I feel safer with the heated brick than I do with the hot coals in a camp situation. We will actually use these on cool nights in camp and do not want anything that could give off carbon monoxide or start fires inside of our canvas tents.