|Project by Woodhacker||posted 04-13-2008 09:57 PM||3305 views||11 times favorited||19 comments|
This is a cedar-lined blanket chest I made for my sister for her birthday (actually this will cover all her birthdays for the rest of her life…at least that’s what I told her). A few years back she’d casually mentioned how neat it would be to find an “old-fashioned” chest for storage. I’d kind of kept that in the back of my mind, when I got this idea when thinking about the curved tops of old “treasure chests”.
This is made of quarter-sawn red oak. The design is my own, although very little was ever written down. If I recall correctly the dimensions are 42” by 22”. After studying two of Rob Cosman’s DVDs on hand-cut dovetails, I wanted to try them out. After practicing several “joints” in scrap wood, I got the courage to begin and this chest was the result,... which has developed within, a real affection for hand-cut dovetails. The cedar tray inside also employs hand-cut dovetails.
The top is made of seven boards or facets. My brother (an engineer) helped with the exact bevel angle along the edges of each board joined to form the top. Each joint in the top has a ¼ by 3/8 inch oak spline running down the length for strength. The grooves for the splines were challenging, but making a simple jig and using my router table worked out fine…eventually. Gluing the top pieces was quite a challenge and almost comical, given the contraption-like looking set up of a series of clamps used in conjunction with the vises on my workbench. I was tempted to round off the top into one continuous curved form, but decided against it in favor of the faceted look.
Even though I don’t like to use metal fasteners in joinery, the curved portion is actually countersunk-screwed to the sides of the top, primarily because I couldn’t find a good way to use clamps. These are covered with oak dowels cut flush.
The hardware was purchased through the Van Dyke’s Restorers catalog. It’s untreated iron, which I rubbed with steel wool loaded with paste wax to remove most of the rust, then finished using a cloth with another coat of wax.
The cedar lining is the typical precut tongue and groove type you can find at lumberyards. None of the cedar lining was finished, nor was it glued or fastened directly. The support strips for the tray inside are dado’d (and screwed, not glued) into the sides of the chest, but also have a groove cut underneath which also holds the cedar siding in place at the top. Then the “floor” cedar planks were “press-fit” into the bottom forcing the siding against the perimeter walls of the chest around the bottom. The tray supports can be removed and the cedar can all be replaced or sanded in the future as needed to bring back the cedar aroma.
The tray has felt “runners” on the bottom so it can easily slide back and forth along its supports for access to either side of the lower compartment.
The entire piece was wiped with a wet rag to raise the grain, then sanded to 220 grit, after which an oil coat was applied. Four coats of poly/oil blend followed and after curing, the finish was hand rubbed with paste wax using 0000 steel wool prior to buffing. The bottom (unseen) includes corner supports with hand turned bun feet, also made of quarter-sawn oak.
Because of the size/weight, it really takes two to safely carry this thing.
-- Martin, Kansas