Hope Chest—Finished!

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Project by Tommy posted 01-20-2007 08:29 PM 4888 views 2 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I finished this on April 14. Many folks have written very gracious comments about the dovetails. Thanks, ironically, given that I’m figuring this out as I go, they turned out to be the easiest part. What drove me crazy was getting the lid right. Since the hinge isn’t external and the lid is heavy (although lighter than lid #1!), it was a bear.

One thing I pulled off (that isn’t visible) is that instead of screwing braces to the lid, I made a sliding dovetail for both and pegged it near the front of the lid with one 1/4 dowel.

As my grandmother would say, “There’s no rest for the weary.” I’ve already started prepping the lumber for daughter #2’s chest.

Pics from the whole project are at

I’m getting close to the “finish” line.

A few years ago, while reading a story on “hope chests” to my three girls, they asked if I’d make one for each of them. I naively said, “Sure, how hard could it be? It’s just a box.”

The truth: At the time, I barely knew the difference between an airplane and a hand-plane. I went to the library and happened upon a book by Krenov in which he said, among many other things, that he didn’t let his apprentices use power tools until they’d mastered the hand-tool that the former replaced. I thought, “Well if that’s good enough for them…”

That catapulted me into the world of “old-school” woodworking, antique stores, ebay and, of course, a garage that is full of tools and sans cars.

This chest, for my oldest daughter (turning 13 soon), is the result of about a year’s work (30 minutes at a time, when I could find the time) and about 2 years, before that, of late nights practicing dovetails (cut a pair, see where I screwed up, saw them off, start again…lather, rinse, repeat).

I’ll post a final pic, I “hope” soon.

-- "Will preach for wood."

16 comments so far

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4337 days

#1 posted 01-20-2007 08:44 PM

Welcome aboard Tommy! You have some pretty lucky girls. That looks like a wonderful labor of love.

View Shawn's profile


225 posts in 4176 days

#2 posted 01-20-2007 09:47 PM

Beautiful man, just beautiful, welcome abord my fellow jock.

-- Cheers

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4184 days

#3 posted 01-20-2007 10:06 PM

and do they know how much you love them?
wow – that’s quite the commitment you have made
can’t wait to see the final product

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 4270 days

#4 posted 01-21-2007 02:56 AM

I’ve been working on one for my daughter since August, and it does’nt have any dovetails so good luck. It will be worth it to see their faces light up when you give it to them. Mark C. gave me some good advice, which was to write something mushy on the bottom for them to remember you by, great idea, and welcome to the lumberjocks. jockmike 2.

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

View Obi's profile


2213 posts in 4260 days

#5 posted 01-21-2007 05:29 AM

Wow… dovetails by hand. Very Nice Work. And Welcome to the Shop

View Karson's profile


35125 posts in 4424 days

#6 posted 01-21-2007 05:32 AM

Very nice welcome to Lumberjocks

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View oscorner's profile


4563 posts in 4334 days

#7 posted 01-21-2007 05:45 AM

Where’s the router and dovetail jig? Three of them, all with handmade dovetails. What a Dad!

-- Jesus is Lord!

View Don's profile


2603 posts in 4200 days

#8 posted 01-21-2007 11:41 AM

Tommy, this is a wonderful undertaking. Your daughters may never know what an expression of love this is.

Without stealing your thunder, it’s something very much like this that also got me into woodworking. My father built a cedar lined chest for my first daughter as a wedding gift. My second daughter was married three years later and my dad had started one for her also. But unfortunately, he became ill and never finished it before he went home to God.

I just didn’t have the necessary skills, or tools at that time, so commissioned a man to finish the work. He as a cabinet maker and commented to me that “your dad was an old-world craftsman”. Looking back on this, I would say it was this experience that motivated me to learn the skills my Dad had.

Thanks for showing this. Please keep posting work-in- progress hots.

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!"

View darryl's profile


1795 posts in 4349 days

#9 posted 01-21-2007 04:43 PM

I have to hand it to you Tommy, I have three daughters and one of my goals is to make a blanket chest for each one of them. I went out and bought the Leigh dovetail jig to do the job though. So far, you are way ahead of me! I should follow your lead and learn to cut these dovetails by hand.

View Tommy's profile


6 posts in 4168 days

#10 posted 02-25-2007 05:07 PM

Hey guys…

Thanks SO much for all the comments and encouragement.


-- "Will preach for wood."

View Obi's profile


2213 posts in 4260 days

#11 posted 02-25-2007 06:39 PM

O.K. So now I guess Iit’s my turn to do that hand made dovetail thingy, huh? I made a 24” jig out of 2 (two) 1/4” pieces of mahogany plywood glued together, so I think I can figure it out.

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4184 days

#12 posted 02-25-2007 06:54 PM

isn’t this beautiful (in more ways than one).

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View Bill's profile


2579 posts in 4184 days

#13 posted 02-25-2007 06:56 PM

Wow, hand made dovetails! That is truly a work of art. I am sure they will appreciate the chests for years to come.

-- Bill, Turlock California,

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 4322 days

#14 posted 02-25-2007 06:59 PM

Beautiful work, your daughters will love these forever.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View David's profile


1969 posts in 4162 days

#15 posted 02-25-2007 08:42 PM

I like the comment “how hard could it be? It’s just a box . . . “

I really enjoy making chests so this struck a chord with me. I like the dovetails and the inlaid cross. Looking forward to more photos. Very nice work!

Can you share details of the inlay?

These will be real treasures for your daughters to enjoy.


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