Raised Panels on Cedar Chest

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Project by Bill Akins posted 08-18-2008 03:50 PM 3635 views 6 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Last Spring I received a gift of several rough sawn cedar planks. Over the summer I have spent my spare time making my wife a Cedar Hope Chest. The plans called for raised panels but I din’t have the $500 to buy a set of bits and a new router with a bigger shank. I studied on making the panels on a table saw. I tried making a beveled panel by using a high fence and pushing the panel vertically across a tilted blade. It was just OK but I wanted something different.

I found how to make coved panels. I removed my fence and used a 2×4 across the top of the blade and clamped it down. I found the center of the blade, marked it across the saw table and put the front of the 2×4 on the line. Start with the blade up at 1/16 and make your first pass on the end grain and work your way around to avoid chipout. Repeat for all your panels (good face down). Raise the blade another 1/16 and start all over again. A good push block comes in handy (not a push stick). The first couple of passes does not show much progress but after that the woodgrain really comes alive and the cove really stands out.

It doesn’t hurt to have a scrap with the groove cut into it to test for thickness if not the original piece. Raise your blade just a hair for your final pass. It took 6 passes the get the thickness just right on a 4/4 panel. I made mine a bit proud to allow for sanding. I ran the tip of my belt sander across each cove and then finished with a bit of hand sanding. I don’t think it could have turned out any better. I do wish I had a planer, I have wore out several belts on my sander. Also, 75% of my sawdust goes down into a box but not on this project, excpect a mess (although the entire house smells of cedar now, bonus).

I just finshed the top and have starting sealing it with polyurethane. The pretty pink cedar has turned a beautiful blood red. When i finish it I need to put the bottom in the chest and give it all one more sanding and hopefully will have it completed soon.

-- Bill from Lithia Springs, GA I love the smell of sawdust in the morning.

16 comments so far

View lew's profile


12099 posts in 3777 days

#1 posted 08-18-2008 04:01 PM

Cool idea, thanks for posting it.

Have made cove molding using this technique but never thought of using it on a raised panel.

Thanks again for the idea.


-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View griff's profile


1207 posts in 3783 days

#2 posted 08-18-2008 04:09 PM

Good morning Bill,
Looking good , that cedar makes beautiful chest and the raised panels will just add to that. Looking forward to seeing the finished project.

-- Mike, Bruce Mississippi = Jack of many trades master of none

View Callum Kendall's profile

Callum Kendall

1918 posts in 3725 days

#3 posted 08-18-2008 04:46 PM

Great job!

Thanks for the post


-- For wood working podcasts with a twist check out

View woodyone's profile


231 posts in 3613 days

#4 posted 08-18-2008 07:00 PM

I have never seen that technique used to make raised panels before, maybe i’ll use it one day.

Thanks for the pics and keep up the good work.


-- Woody, UK

View JimJ's profile


16 posts in 3620 days

#5 posted 08-18-2008 07:55 PM

Interesting idea. I am considering making kitchen cabinet doors and may experiment with this technique.

Did you use the belt sander because the cut was very rough?

I have the same belt sander you have but I’ve got an adapter to attach the exhaust to a dust collector which hopefully will reduce the mess.

I like the push block you built. Nice and high above the blade looks like it should be safer than the usual push pads or stick.

Thanks for the idea.

-- JimJ - Oakton, VA

View Bill Akins's profile

Bill Akins

425 posts in 3720 days

#6 posted 08-18-2008 08:17 PM

The cut did leave a few ridges and I used the nose of the sander to help with that. The mess I was referring to was from the table saw. Nothing goes down. It starts with sawdust and when the cove gets deeper the sawdust turns into shavings, almost like from a lathe.

-- Bill from Lithia Springs, GA I love the smell of sawdust in the morning.

View davidtheboxmaker's profile


373 posts in 3827 days

#7 posted 08-18-2008 08:47 PM

they look really good – bet the smell of the dust was just great.

View kansas's profile


165 posts in 3723 days

#8 posted 08-19-2008 02:39 AM

Very good tip. Looks like they turned out nice.

View brianinpa's profile


1812 posts in 3744 days

#9 posted 08-19-2008 03:00 AM

Excellent idea and thanks for the tip: every day I learn a new trick to enhance my woodworking skills. I also like your push stick: keeps the hand far away from the blade: I have to make one like yours.

I really like the grain pattern on those panels, can’t wait to see the finished project.

-- Brian, Lebanon PA, If you aren’t having fun doing it, find something else to do.

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 3790 days

#10 posted 08-19-2008 03:18 AM

very nice! i actually just did this on my most recent project. the trash can thing has a raised panel and i made the coved ones too! thanks for the post.

View Napaman's profile


5526 posts in 4098 days

#11 posted 08-19-2008 03:26 AM

looking good!

-- Matt--Proud LJ since 2007

View daveintexas's profile


365 posts in 3897 days

#12 posted 08-19-2008 06:42 PM

Way to go, super idea.
Did all the bugs run and hide after milling up all that cedar??
I just lined a A&C bridal chest with some cedar, and for days after I never saw any bugs, bees or spiders. Not sure if it was coincidence or they are alergic to cedar.

Thanks for posting

View Richforever's profile


757 posts in 3742 days

#13 posted 08-19-2008 08:02 PM

Thanks for the post. I love the scale of the coves to the size of the panels. Well done!

-- Rich, Seattle, WA

View Douglas Krueger's profile

Douglas Krueger

416 posts in 3745 days

#14 posted 08-20-2008 05:19 PM

Ingenuity and a beautifully grained wood, great combination.

-- I can so I wood but why are my learning curves always circles

View jim1953's profile


2735 posts in 3863 days

#15 posted 10-04-2008 06:05 AM

great job on the cedar chest need to check out my site jim1953 what is it a raised panel jig

-- Jim, Kentucky

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