Scrollsaw Chest Project #1: HiHo, HiHo, and ,huh, uh oh!

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Blog entry by William posted 11-02-2010 12:29 AM 1204 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Scrollsaw Chest Project series Part 2: Side And Front Panels »

I’m still working on Christmas presents. My present present project (ha ha, I made a funny) is a scrollsaw chest. If anyone want to see what I’m talking about, you can see and order plans for the project here

First things first. I’ve been wanting to build my daughter (17 years old) a cedar chest for some time. I wanted something special though. So, I seen and ordered the plans for this chest well over a year ago. I have spent the time since then snagging up aromatic cedar a board at a time of I had to every chance I got. It’s been in the rafters of my shop until I saved up enough of it to do this.
So, my older sons helped me by pulling it all down yesterday. After doing some figuring, I have went overboard as usual. I could actually make three chests out of this wood if I’m careful with my waste. That’s a good thing though. There’s always mistakes and I have a feeling my wife will want one too.
Ah! Did I mention there’s always mistakes? The plans say to build the panels out of quarter inch plywood. I don’t care for plywood and I wanted this to be completely made of cedar. So, I started with my idea od making the panels out of cedar. There are six panels, two across the front, two across the top, and one on each side with scrollwork in them, thus the name, scrollsaw chest. These panels measure twelve and 3/4” square. Of course, I don’t have any cedar that wide, so I have the idea of gluing up some panels and planing them down to a quarter inch.
After over two hours at the planer, I came to the conclusion that these quarter inch cedar panels were way too fragile for the panels. So, I sit for a bit and thought of a solution. My idea was to glue up another set of panels and face glue them, two strips vertically and two horizontically. That ought to give it the stability I need, right? Wrong.
After gluing up all this, I don’t know what was worse, the warpage or the brittleness while cutting them on the scroll saw. I thought about it. Then I went back and read the instructions, which clearly has a whole paragraph about using plywood for these panels because of the size of them. That makes sense. Too bad I didn’t read the instructions first.
So anyway, this cedar chest will have plywood panels. The plywood doesn’t warp and give problems cutting like large, glued up, solid cedar panels do.

The pattern on the left is for the front and sides. The pattern on the right is for the top.
Stay tuned.


4 comments so far

View Richard 's profile


394 posts in 3089 days

#1 posted 11-02-2010 01:20 AM

Interesting project,

I have made hardwood chests, but I wanted to try a solid cedar chest and I was somewhat disappointed with the results. Seems like everytime I used the table saw, it would rip tiny pieces of cedar out. I then discovered that it didn’t take much to scratch and mar the surface. I then thought I should use a good protective finish on the outside, but the finish reacted funny to the cedar wood, and created a blotchy tacky surface. Overall, not one of my best projects, it sits in the back of the shop holding baseball equipment where nobody will see it. Now I stick with hardwoods and used unfinished cedar on the inside of certain chests

William, I look forward on your chest, hopefully I can get a lot of good tips on how your going to complete your cedar chest.

-- Richard Boise, Idaho

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9222 posts in 2888 days

#2 posted 11-02-2010 11:06 AM

I find cedar one of the most difficult and fragile woods to cut William. Even at 1/2 inch thickness, it just snaps if you look at it wrong. In looking at your design that you intend to use I am sitting here and shaking my head. I am not trying to be negative, but even if you are successful in cutting it without breaking it, you would need to be extremely cautious putting anything in it. Unless I am misunderstanding (it is just after 5am here and I haven’t finished my coffee yet!)

How about a cedar lined chest?

Just a thought . . . .

I wish you all the best my friend -


-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View helluvawreck's profile


30765 posts in 2834 days

#3 posted 11-02-2010 11:32 AM

I’ll bet that your chest will turn out beautifully. Plywood will always have it’s uses.

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2810 days

#4 posted 11-03-2010 05:40 AM

I appreciate the input. I am aware of the fragile nature of cedar. Actually, that’s one of the reasons I can’t believe I actually thought I was going to be able to make the quarter inch panels out of cedar. I think I had what I like to call a brain fart.
Anyway, knowing this is exactly why I am changing several things on the pattern design to allow for extra bracing and supports. I have built solid cedar chests before. To me, the trick is to add plenty of support and don’t hammer on it for no reason. There will be brad nails used for some of the supports in addition to glue. Also, I’m using a piano hinge. There will be hardwood added for the hinge. I built one once without the hardwood hinge support and it didn’t take long for the screws to rip out.
Solid cedar chests can be done. You have to be careful though. My concern with this one isn’t the solid cedar part. Actually, it’s the fact that it’s not solid. The addition of the scrolled panels creates a situation where it had even less support in the sides, front, and top. We’ll see. You all may see me starting over before this one is through.


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