Blanket chest - jatoba frame, padauk tray, cedar lining, upholstered panels and seat

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Project by Mark posted 05-19-2011 02:47 AM 4282 views 2 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Whew! Just completed this cedar-lined blanket chest (hope chest) for our daughter, still in time for her birthday. Since she will soon graduate as a botanist, that seemed a fine justification to include some “exotic plants” (ie, hardwood species I’ve been wanting to try out) in the construction. Also we wanted this to be a joint project, and my wife enjoys upholstering, so designed the chest with upholstered panels and seat. The panels are held in place by the cedar lining, and the cedar lining is secured by jatoba moldings screwed through to the chest frame. As a result, the fabric can easily be changed in the future—because the recipient’s taste could change, or who knows, maybe it could end up a toy chest for a grandchild if one comes along?

Mainly I am thankful to have learned 3 things from this project:

Best lesson: when working with unfamiliar woods, always test out joinery, glues, and finishes before assembling and finishing the real thing. Just buy the small amount of extra wood and go through those steps first. See if that joint comes apart. See how that finish looks. I had some glued biscuit joints fail after final assembly, and it set me back, but fellow LJ’ers offered helpful advice and I recovered. So part of the lesson is, when you get in trouble, ask for help! Read about that if you want to:

Second: when making a small box, sand and finish the interior before assembly (mask off box joint fingers so glue can still stick); sand and finish the exterior afterward.

Finally, I got a chance to increase my Google Sketchup skills, including application of wood and fabric textures to the model. I’ve included the sketchup image as the last photo. Pretty good prediction—so I don’t have to worry whether our daughter will like the real thing when we deliver it!

-- Mark

5 comments so far

View sras's profile


4806 posts in 3151 days

#1 posted 05-19-2011 03:50 AM

The upholstered panels are a nice touch! Should be a winner.

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View christopheralan's profile


1126 posts in 3743 days

#2 posted 05-19-2011 03:53 AM

Great projcet and great write-up! Well done! I love the mix of wood and fabric with great colors and contrast!

-- christopheralan

View patron's profile


13606 posts in 3363 days

#3 posted 05-19-2011 04:00 AM

and an all around winner
great look in the materials combination

and that you learned something new
and worked with the wife
with her wonderful skill

got to make your daughter proud

looking forward to the next project

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View SASmith               's profile


1850 posts in 3009 days

#4 posted 05-19-2011 11:43 PM

The wood\fabric mix is great.
I have never seen a chest like it.
Thanks for sharing.

-- Scott Smith, Southern Illinois

View Nearlynormal1's profile


29 posts in 2715 days

#5 posted 05-20-2011 09:49 PM

Really nice project! The fabric compliments the wood finish nicely.
And you’re right about the Sketch-up pic.

-- Patrice, Northern California

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