Mahogany Hope Chests

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Project by Rxmpo posted 02-12-2012 03:07 AM 3214 views 9 times favorited 20 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Here are two hope chests I was commissioned to make for my friends to give to their two young children, JP(3) and Maddie (infant). I was given approximate dimensions, a request that the wood would be dark and that it had cedar inside. That was it. (Love these types of commissions because I am free to create.)

The cases and breadboards are made out of Honduran Mahogany and the tops are made from figured Philippine Mahogany. The wood was not cheap to say the least and this being my first time working with Mahogany it took me a long time to build. I do not like to build using plans so I had to triple check my design and the 185 design changes I made during this build before cutting the wood. After working with Mahogany, I must say I feel like I am ruined for life because it was such a dream to machine and it is so beautiful.

Each project I make it a point to try something I have never done before to keep pushing my skill level, and this project was filled with new techniques for me. The through dovetails were made using a Leigh jig and although I haven’t graduated to hand cut ones yet, getting this many dovetails to fit without any real issues would have taken years for me to do. Worth the cheat for me. I was also asked to personalize the cases with the children’s initials. Talk about scary. I must have watched the FWW letter carving video a 100 times before starting this task. I learned a ton from this one video and surprisingly, there isn’t much else that I found in video format on the web as instructional.

The other new techniques for me that I used were staining with a dye stain and top coating with Minwax wipe on lacquer. The dye (thanks to the wood whisperer for the awesome video which helped me overcome my fears of using this stuff) was a 7:5:2 combination of General Finishes NGR Orange,medium brown,yellow. Measured out with a syringe for each so batch of stain would be exact. I tried other oil based stains on test pieces before attempting the dye stain and they were awful. The dye was fantastic to work with and I may never go back to oil stains again. The lacquer was a last minute decision because I was trying to make delivery of the pieces and that took came out far better that I had thought. My experience had been with poly, but after this I may not be going back to that either. Awesome build and it was hard to see them go, but I am proud of the work and knowing how these will be in their family for what I hope to be a very long time, nothing can be more rewarding than that.

Thanks for looking.

20 comments so far

View RibsBrisket4me's profile


1526 posts in 1924 days

#1 posted 02-12-2012 03:08 AM

Very, very, very nice!

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13347 posts in 3091 days

#2 posted 02-12-2012 03:12 AM

Beautiful hope chests!

View Dark_Lightning's profile


2619 posts in 2527 days

#3 posted 02-12-2012 03:15 AM

I’ve started using dyes rather than stains recently, and really like them. The grain on that top is drop-dead gorgeous! BTW, I like lacquer for it’s quick drying, though I spray rather than wipe.

Again, NICE project.

-- Random Orbital Nailer

View degoose's profile


7193 posts in 2773 days

#4 posted 02-12-2012 03:27 AM

Holy Guacamole, Batman… that there is sure pretty.

-- Drink twice... and don't bother to cut... @ For lovers of all things timber...

View Martyroc's profile


2711 posts in 1724 days

#5 posted 02-12-2012 03:28 AM

They came out very nice, I will offer a suggestion about Handmade dovetails. When I first started 20+ years ago, I did not have a router so I learned by doing them by hand, and even after I got my first router I still did them by hand, then someone gave me a dovetailing Jig, that was the end for hand cutting. I still do a few hand cuts a year but usually only for small boxes, that I plan to give as gifts. I can tell you this, you appreciate your router a whole lot more when you have to cut them by hand, Was I going somewhere with this? Oh Yea, try doing a few by hand as soon as you can, the satisfaction is 100 times greater than with the router and a jig.

-- Martin ....always count the number of fingers you have before, and after using the saw.

View PatBrownfield's profile


50 posts in 1733 days

#6 posted 02-12-2012 03:57 AM

wow very nice you did a great job

-- Pat Brownfield Westland,Michigan

View Tallahassee's profile


48 posts in 1785 days

#7 posted 02-12-2012 05:21 AM

Outstanding work! Beautiful wood, too. I’ve bookmarked this page for the time I think I’m ready to tackle such a large project.

-- Dana, Tallahassee, FL

View a1Jim's profile


115171 posts in 2995 days

#8 posted 02-12-2012 06:21 AM

Beautiful hope chest and amazing wood too.

-- Custom furniture

View ShaneA's profile


6415 posts in 2016 days

#9 posted 02-12-2012 06:28 AM

They turned out awesome. You shoul be proud. Amazing looking wood too.

View David Grimes's profile

David Grimes

2078 posts in 2058 days

#10 posted 02-12-2012 07:50 AM


-- If you're going to stir the pot, think BIG spoon or SMALL boat paddle. David Grimes, Georgia

View DonkeyDon's profile


5 posts in 1726 days

#11 posted 02-12-2012 12:36 PM

A spectacular finish on some beautiful wood. Love the “goodbye” shot of the pair in the backseat.

View helluvawreck's profile


22669 posts in 2285 days

#12 posted 02-12-2012 12:53 PM

These are beautiful; nice job.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau

View ed220's profile


624 posts in 2811 days

#13 posted 02-12-2012 01:44 PM

Beautiful. Great construction !!

View StumpyNubs's profile


6830 posts in 2219 days

#14 posted 02-12-2012 03:03 PM

Those are simply stunning! Thanks for posting!

-Jim; aka “Stumpy Nubs”
Blue Collar Woodworking? FINALLY, a woodworking show for us morons! ” -The Hoboken Evening Review

-- Subscribe to "Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal"- One of the crafts' most unique publications:

View Lenny's profile


1469 posts in 2945 days

#15 posted 02-12-2012 05:18 PM

Mike, these are over the top, gorgeous pieces. The craftsmanship, execution and attention to detail is outstanding. Kudos my friend!

-- On the eighth day God was back in His woodworking shop! Lenny, East Providence, RI

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