Shaker Blanket Chest

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Project by woodsyman posted 07-30-2013 10:03 PM 2859 views 7 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My youngest brother was on the receiving end of this gift that I built for he and his newly wed wife. It is built of radii pine, and a little bit of cedar lining on the inside. I really wanted to make them an heirloom piece that their kids and grand-kids will hopefully use. I found this design from a Fine Woodworking article titled “Shaker Blanket Chest” that gave a quick glimpse into details of John Kassay’s Book of Shaker Furniture. The article showed a great detailed drawing of the original which was built back in 1837. I fell in love with the simple details yet elegant design of this utilitarian piece.

The project started with just a handful of 7.5” x 8’ pine boards. Once glued together 3 wide and flattened, I cut the parts out of them. I like cutting parts for through dovetails because it is so simple, your final width and depth of cabinet are your final cut lengths as well. Then it was time for a lot of hand cut dovetails. The same for the drawer, with half-blind dovetails on the drawer face. Dadoed in the shelf and glued up the carcass. Next step was building the apron or feet, with an alternating dovetail pattern to the carcass. Once that was complete, moved on to the top.

After I turned the handles for the drawers, I was ready for finish. I did add a little bit of personal wood-burning under the lid prior to finish, just a little added touch to commemorate the special occasion. Wash coat proved to be the way to go prior to staining. Still, for such a fine wood to work by hand, pine is a very touchy wood to finish. Stained it, then added a few top coats of satin lacquer. Not exactly a historically accurate finish, but it’s fast and will hold up well, plus it brings out the natural beauty in the grain, not the red paint the Shaker’s would’ve used. The cedar lining and brass hardware were added last.

All in all I spent my evenings and weekends over the course of a 2-1/2 week period building this piece. My brother helped me un-load it from the vehicle into his house the night before the wedding, and really loved it. Said he was tired of using the wicker type basket as their blanket storage because it was falling apart. So I managed to get lucky enough to give them something they needed.

Some of my finest work has been those volunteer efforts, proven here on this project as well. I enjoy making gifts and doing volunteer work more than probably any other work around. Can’t wait to see how this project is holding up after a decade or so. Hope they enjoy!

-- Peace be with you!

16 comments so far

View CL810's profile


3716 posts in 2860 days

#1 posted 07-30-2013 11:20 PM

Woodsy – that’s some fine work on display! DT’s are very nice; clearly you know what you’re doing. Bet you scored points with the sister in law.

-- "The only limits to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today." - FDR

View BTimmons's profile


2303 posts in 2357 days

#2 posted 07-31-2013 12:00 AM

Very nice work! Gotta make a chest one of these days.

-- Brian Timmons -

View scrollsaw's profile


13032 posts in 3726 days

#3 posted 07-31-2013 12:02 AM

Great job.

-- Todd

View a1Jim's profile


116804 posts in 3449 days

#4 posted 07-31-2013 01:40 AM

Very nice work.

-- Custom furniture

View Gary's profile


9264 posts in 3305 days

#5 posted 07-31-2013 02:34 AM

Really nice project

-- Gary, DeKalb Texas only 4 miles from the mill

View nuttree's profile


280 posts in 3196 days

#6 posted 07-31-2013 03:05 AM

I like it. Simple, functional, and graceful all at the same time. Good job.

-- I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in. -John Muir

View aussiedave's profile


3114 posts in 1696 days

#7 posted 07-31-2013 03:10 AM

Great looking chest and excellent hand cut dovetails…well done.

-- Dave.......If at first you don’t succeed redefine success....

View doordude's profile


1085 posts in 2855 days

#8 posted 07-31-2013 03:59 AM

woodsey, just like the shakers; simple elegant and useful, hope the family loves it.

View XrayJay's profile


234 posts in 1851 days

#9 posted 07-31-2013 11:27 AM

They will love it for years to come. Great design and the Dovetails look awesome. Good work!

-- Whatever you find to do with your hands, do it with all your might,... because there is no work in the grave...Ecclesiastes 9:10

View XrayJay's profile


234 posts in 1851 days

#10 posted 07-31-2013 11:27 AM

They will love it for years to come. Great design and the Dovetails look awesome. Good work!

-- Whatever you find to do with your hands, do it with all your might,... because there is no work in the grave...Ecclesiastes 9:10

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

5656 posts in 3066 days

#11 posted 07-31-2013 02:36 PM

Stellar job on the build of the blanket chest…..Shaker furniture is my favorite style to build…I get some request for this style from a couple of my customers…...I have built several pieces for our home….My latest was a Shaker hall table, made of oak, and had tapered legs…...Thanks for posting…I know your brother and his new bride will cherrish it forever…....

-- " Don't pet the sweaty things, and don't sweat the petty things."

View helluvawreck's profile


29707 posts in 2738 days

#12 posted 07-31-2013 03:06 PM

This is a wonderful piece. You did a fine job on it.

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 hoss12992's profile


3989 posts in 1765 days

#13 posted 07-31-2013 10:44 PM

Great job

-- The Old Rednek Workshop

View Don W's profile

Don W

18560 posts in 2439 days

#14 posted 08-01-2013 12:00 AM

Man, the only thing my brother ever gave me was a hard time. Nice build!!

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Fishinbo's profile


11362 posts in 2047 days

#15 posted 08-05-2013 02:25 PM

That beautiful blanket chest will definitely be an heirloom piece, great design, joinery and finish. The newly wed couple will enjoy using it. Great job!

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