Raised Panels on Cedar Chest

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Project by Bill Akins posted 2195 days ago 2735 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


9992 posts in 2381 days

#1 posted 2195 days ago

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


1206 posts in 2388 days

#2 posted 2195 days ago

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 2329 days

#3 posted 2195 days ago

Great job!

Thanks for the post


-- For wood working podcasts with a twist check out

View woodyone's profile


231 posts in 2217 days

#4 posted 2195 days ago

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 2224 days

#5 posted 2194 days ago

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

421 posts in 2324 days

#6 posted 2194 days ago

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 2431 days

#7 posted 2194 days ago

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

View kansas's profile


152 posts in 2327 days

#8 posted 2194 days ago

Very good tip. Looks like they turned out nice.

View brianinpa's profile


1809 posts in 2349 days

#9 posted 2194 days ago

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 2394 days

#10 posted 2194 days ago

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


5332 posts in 2703 days

#11 posted 2194 days ago

looking good!

-- Matt--Proud LJ since 2007

View daveintexas's profile


365 posts in 2502 days

#12 posted 2194 days ago

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


739 posts in 2346 days

#13 posted 2193 days ago

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

396 posts in 2350 days

#14 posted 2193 days ago

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


2671 posts in 2468 days

#15 posted 2148 days ago

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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