Blanket chest: mahogany, cherry, and cedar

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Project by AaronK posted 06-19-2010 03:11 PM 4140 views 11 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Built as a second anniversary gift for my lady – it’s something to put the cotton in.

Mahogany was at least 50 year old reclaimed trim, so it’s full of nail holes – and cracks, which i discovered too late. Cherry is locally grown air dried. cedar is closet lining from the big box. Mahogany is all 3/4” stock, cherry panels are 3/8”, rabbetted to fit in 1/4” grooves. Cedar is 1/4”. Overall dimensions are about 42”x18”x20”. Construction is floating tenons, pinned on the outside with 1/4” cherry dowel, inside with 1/8” dowels that go half-way through so as not to show on the outside. Vertical stiles in the panels are joined to the rails with dowels. top is breadboarded and battened because I noticed it was starting to curve quite a bit. Lumber was finished by hand planing or sanding to 220, several coats of homemade wiping oil-varnish blend, more sanding, and paste wax rubbed in with steel wool.

Lots of firsts for me in this one: glueing up wide panels, breadboarding, bookmatching, frame/panel, and dealing with hinges. It was also my first experience with interlocked grain… it looks nice, but it’s impossible to plane. I hated resorting to sandpaper, but using my standard bench planes there was no other way. I did the bookmatch resawing on the table saw – not too scary, just time consuming! the frame/panel aspect was… something i dont want to do again with curved stiles and panels. yikes, that was an exasperating time. hinges went really well – did the mortises by hand and had no problem with alignment at all.

overall I’m happy with the design. Before I even started I was already bored with a rectilinear design for the panels, and the figure in the cherry seemed to call for its frame to follow it. I ended up with what is to me a nice balance of shaker-like simplicity with a slight contemporary twist. I made an incredible number of mistakes though – e.g. I had originally wanted the top to extend about 2” on each side, but ran into limitations in the stock. also some of the dimensions made assembly at different stages a little difficult – never put a batten in line with a hinge like that – it makes it hard tofit a screwdriver in! but anyway, it’s all done now and I just hope it doesnt fall apart when the first blanket is put inside. This cabinetry type of construction is what I always had in mind that I wanted to do, and it’s satisfying to finally have done it. onward! :-)

15 comments so far

View DrewM's profile


176 posts in 2090 days

#1 posted 06-19-2010 03:27 PM

Great work, I really like he bookmatched figured cherry in the panel. I think the nails holes of the mahogany add character and would make a good conversation piece.

-- Drew, Delaware

View CharlieM1958's profile


16143 posts in 3309 days

#2 posted 06-19-2010 03:36 PM

Drop-dead gorgeous! Like Drew said… lots of character.

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

View Jonathan's profile


2608 posts in 2142 days

#3 posted 06-19-2010 03:38 PM

Thanks for posting all the details, including the trials and tribulations along the way. I love reading about the details of the project.

Nice job in incorporating new techniques for yourself into the project as well.

I like the extra little detail of following the arched grain of the bookmatched cherry on the front. It gives it a “little something extra,” in my opinion.

I think you did a great job of showing off that wood, both in the way you laid it out, and in how you finished it all.

This is certainly a beauty!

-- Jonathan, Denver, CO "Constructive criticism is welcome and valued as it gives me new perspectives and helps me to advance as a woodworker."

View swirt's profile


1994 posts in 2063 days

#4 posted 06-19-2010 03:55 PM


-- Galootish log blog,

View atceric's profile


51 posts in 2115 days

#5 posted 06-19-2010 04:00 PM

Very nice. Can you post a pic of the top and inside?

View a1Jim's profile


113836 posts in 2668 days

#6 posted 06-19-2010 04:50 PM

Great chest fantastic build and super wood choices.

-- Custom furniture

View skeeter's profile


233 posts in 2432 days

#7 posted 06-19-2010 05:04 PM

pretty pretty pretty I like the cherry very nice.

-- My philosophy: Somewhere between Norm and Roy

View Richard 's profile


394 posts in 2212 days

#8 posted 06-19-2010 05:22 PM

I too think that nail holes in the mahogany adds character. As for it holding together, I see no problem, in fact I was looking at one of my first projects, I made every mistake posible with cross grain gluing and such, and it seems to be holding up solid for over 20 years (but ugly as hell).

I like the battens, and on the breadboard ends I like how you angled them. Overall a very nice looking blanket chest with a nice finish to it.

-- Richard Boise, Idaho

View TreeBones's profile


1826 posts in 3114 days

#9 posted 06-19-2010 06:12 PM

View lobro4's profile


196 posts in 2304 days

#10 posted 06-19-2010 07:07 PM

What all of them said. Great work.

-- Rock Chalk Jayhawk Go KU!!

View AaronK's profile


1418 posts in 2555 days

#11 posted 06-19-2010 08:45 PM

thanks all for the nice comments. some more pics, as requested:

View spanky46's profile


991 posts in 2482 days

#12 posted 06-19-2010 10:05 PM

You should be proud! Very very special, thanks for sharing!

-- spanky46 -- Never enough clamps...Never enough tools...Never enough time.

View sandt38's profile


166 posts in 1999 days

#13 posted 06-20-2010 04:43 AM

Looks amazing. I don’t understand why mahogany gets stained all the time, it is such a beautiful wood when oiled or polyed. I love the way you left it open, and I love how the cherry compliments the mahogany. That is a beautiful figure in the center panel. Just beautiful.

That is a fine box. I am sure your lady will be ecstatic.

-- Got Wood? --- Somewhere along the way the people in Washington forgot that they are there to represent the people, not to rule them.

View AaronK's profile


1418 posts in 2555 days

#14 posted 07-07-2010 09:03 PM

yeah, i dont know why you’d stain mahogany either. The stock that I used for this was actually originally PAINTED, if you can imagine.

and yeah, that center panel is great. I remember seeing the curly figure in the rough board and snatching it for something like this. It was too good to leave as one piece, so I figured i’d learn how to mill bookmatched pieces just for it.

I also like the way the two woods work together. I like the idea of using different species, but I find high-contrast combinations like walnut+maple too glaring and like ones more like this… cherry+walnut is another good one.

View Gator's profile


377 posts in 2767 days

#15 posted 07-26-2010 05:18 AM

Very nice work…. well done..!!

-- Master designer of precision sawdust and one of a kind slivers.

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