Why I Work in Wood

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Project by treeman posted 12-10-2009 04:53 PM 4690 views 24 times favorited 32 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’ll give the project details first and then get into a little philosophy on this project and my woodworking in general. If the philosophy part doesn’t interest you then just stop after the details.

This is a toy chest/blanket chest I built for my grandson’s first Christmas. He won’t be old enough this year to appreciate it but in the years to come; I believe he will.

This chest is built out of solid cherry with an unfinished cedar bottom. This chest is my own design after browsing the projects here and elsewhere to get my inspiration. It is obviously raised panel construction (a first for me) with a solid glued up top. I used General Finish’s stains and topcoat for the finish.

The construction was straight forward using a rail and style set on my router table. I also used the router with a raised panel bit to raise the panels. I sanded everything to 150 grit and then applied two coats of 1 lb. cut shellac. Once the shellac dried I sanded to 220.

I applied two coats of Georgian Cherry gel stain and then one coat of Java stain. This gave me exactly the color I was looking for. Once everything dried, I applied three coats of Gel Topcoat.

This is the first time I used products by General Finish and they are simply amazing. Everything was wiped on with a cotton cloth and the finish is absolutely gorgious. No blotching on the cherry and the feel is silky. It does not have any of that “plastic” look or feel so common on commercial furniture nowadays.

Now for the philosophy.

I am a fortunate person who gets to do his woodworking strictly for pleasure. I have no pressure to produce for a living and get to work at my own pace on projects that interest me. When I make a mistake, I get to walk away regroup and come back when I reach my zen mode again. If this takes an hour or a day; it doesn’t matter.

Wood is an remarkable material that takes on a life of it’s own. When you buy a rough board, you only have a vague idea of what lies underneath. As the wood is taken from rough to smooth you begin to see it’s true potential. As you cut and shape your pieces you begin to see your ideas come to light. Once your project is finished you get to stand back and admire. What a feeling!!!

When you look at the chest you can see the grain change where the rails and styles are joined. these joints are visible to the eye but when you close your eyes and rub your fingers across the joint they are absolutley invisible. This is exactly what I was trying to achieve. This chest has a silky rich feeling that is difficult to describe in words and impossible to show in the pictures.

I hope that this chest gets passed through the future generations of my family and becomes a family heirloom. Time will tell.

Thanks for letting me ramble and take some time to browse the many Lumberjocks projects for some inspiration.

32 comments so far

View woodworm's profile


14468 posts in 3590 days

#1 posted 12-10-2009 05:06 PM

Really beautiful chest out of beautiful wood. I agree with you, the finish is amazing. I believe without doubt it’ll become the family heirloom.
Great work Treeman!

-- masrol, kuala lumpur, MY.

View RexMcKinnon's profile


2593 posts in 3195 days

#2 posted 12-10-2009 05:30 PM

Looks great. Should last for generations.

-- If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail!

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 3308 days

#3 posted 12-10-2009 05:47 PM

Very nice looking chest. I agree with your philosophy of woodworking for pleasure. I spent many years woodworking for a living and now do it just for my enjoyment and some very selective jobs I decide to do. I have really enjoyed and appreciated the beauty of wod since I was a little kid back in the 50’s. I feel like a kid in a toy store every time I go into my shop and start playing. It is a feeling and a passion that never gets old.

View shopmania's profile


701 posts in 3182 days

#4 posted 12-10-2009 05:51 PM

Beautiful chest!!

-- Tim, Myrtle Beach, Just one more tool, that's all I need! :)

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3821 days

#5 posted 12-10-2009 05:57 PM

This is a beautiful chest. I really enjoy the look the raised panels give to the piece. Putting panels on all sides of the chest gives it a wonderful look and appeal. Nice job on the finish as well.

Thanks for sharing this. I am sure your grandson will fill it up in no time (if his parents let him use the chest to store his toys in. It is such a beautiful piece they may want to claim it for themselves.). :)

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View treeman's profile


208 posts in 3449 days

#6 posted 12-10-2009 06:02 PM

“Thanks for sharing this. I am sure your grandson will fill it up in no time (if his parents let him use the chest to store his toys in. It is such a beautiful piece they may want to claim it for themselves.). :)”

They won’t be able to do that because it’s signed on the bottom by me and endorsed to my grandson. ;)

View a1Jim's profile


117091 posts in 3577 days

#7 posted 12-10-2009 06:11 PM

wonderful chest with a great finsh It looks way to nice for a toy chest. Good thoughts on your philosophy.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View BTKS's profile


1986 posts in 3464 days

#8 posted 12-10-2009 06:18 PM

Great work, I think you summed up in a few words what many of us value in woodworking. For most, it’s not a matter of making money, it’s how much are we willing to spend to pursue this hobby. All dollars aside, you nailed the essence of woodworking for most of us. Thanks, BTKS

-- "Man's ingenuity has outrun his intelligence" (Joseph Wood Krutch)

View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4218 days

#9 posted 12-10-2009 06:23 PM

Your philosophy is right in line with mine, and this is a really beautiful chest. I haven’t done any raised panel work to speak of, and this project makes me even more anxious to get into that.

So much woodworking….so little time. :-)

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View bibb's profile


327 posts in 3531 days

#10 posted 12-10-2009 07:24 PM

Now that is what woodworking is all about Charlie Brown

-- you may only live once, but if you do it right that's all you need

View Pdub's profile


924 posts in 3179 days

#11 posted 12-10-2009 08:26 PM

Beautiful chest. Thanks for reminding me why I started doing woodwork. I catch myself too often “Not Enjoying” it as much as I should because of a deadline. I need to slow down and really enjoy the talent that I have been blessed with. Thanks for the philosophy and reality check.

-- Paul, North Dakota, USAF Ret.

View OhValleyWoodandWool's profile


970 posts in 3120 days

#12 posted 12-10-2009 09:10 PM

Beautiful work. I’m sure that this will be a treasured hierloom for many many generations.


-- "All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then Success is sure." Mark Twain

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3334 days

#13 posted 12-10-2009 09:32 PM

Wonderful chest and wonderful work. The finish really completed a good job. I adhere to your philosophy.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 4246 days

#14 posted 12-10-2009 09:46 PM

Beautiful chest. Great philosophy. Ain’t life wonderful when you got wood and a place to work it. Mike

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View Rj's profile


1047 posts in 3631 days

#15 posted 12-10-2009 10:17 PM

Great Craftsmanship and design! I love the color .

-- Rj's Woodworks,San Jose & Weed Ca,

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