|Project by woodsyman||posted 07-30-2013 10:03 PM||2511 views||6 times favorited||16 comments|
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!