Cedar Chests Project

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Blog entry by HenryH posted 02-17-2010 05:52 PM 2906 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Cedar Chests
My latest project is the construction of two solid Cedar blanket chests. The inspiration for this project came from a traditional source, my wife. After another summer of moths eating tiny holes in her winter sweaters she made the suggestion that it would be good to have a Cedar Chest to store her sweaters. I was not enthusiastic because I have built other chest and I was thinking of building something new. But, just a couple of days later a colleague at work approached me about building a Cedar chest for his wife. I have never made a woodworking project for anyone outside my family but his request at the same time as my wife’s request was something I couldn’t ignore. Sometimes you have to look past your own wants and go with what life presents you.

Hence, the two chests. I figured I could build two almost as quickly as one. Not exactly the case but I learned a lot and having a second identical chest to apply what I learned was helpful.

The Chests are made of solid Eastern Red Cedar. Aromatic Cedar. I will tell you the whole house smells of Cedar for the past five weeks. It’s really a blessing since the house has been buttoned up tight through the worst of this winter. I live in SE PA and we have had a fairly cold and snowy winter. Did anyone else notice the snow?

I bought the lumber from a small local sawmill. Spacht’s Sawmill in Fairview Village, Pa. Dave mills local lumber only. Grown local, milled local and made into something beautiful local. That appeals to me. He offer mostly White and Red Oak, Cherry, Walnut, Ash and Poplar. I called and asked and he said he had some Red Cedar. When I went over he had plenty of narrow stock but he also had about 45 BF of 13 inch wide really premium Cedar all from the same tree. I took it all.

The wide boards were 8ft long and what this allowed me to do was to wrap a board around three sides. It also allowed me to make the lids out of only two boards. See pics below. I used wide box joints instead of dovetails because of how brittle the cedar is. (Lesson learned) I used traditional Cedar Chest hinges and no finish to complete the chest. I did not apply a finish because it would cover the Aromatic nature of the wood and in some cases actually have a reaction to the finish.
Below are pics of a finished chest and the inside of the unfinished chest.

-- HenryH - PA

3 comments so far

View John Harris's profile

John Harris

59 posts in 3720 days

#1 posted 02-17-2010 08:09 PM

Great work, Henry. They turned out great. It’s good to know about Spacht’s. Thanks.

View SEE's profile


119 posts in 3843 days

#2 posted 02-22-2010 08:29 PM

Nice chests, Henry. Very nice. It’s good to have a local source for it, too!

Over the years I’ve worked a lot with cedar. It IS brittle and it IS a hassle to work with. Still, if one takes their time the results are very rewarding. The most worrisome aspect of cedar, to me, is the unruly grain patterns. They’ll change on you in a heartbeat!

I’ve learned that I get a better finished product if I start out with boards that are well over sized. I use the jointer and planer as little as possible, doing most of the surfacing with a drum sander. This has helped me to avoid a lot of tear outs and voids in the lumber. It’s slow going! I don’t have the spiral cutter heads in my jointer and planer. That would probably make it easier to work with with less chance of tear out.

Again, very nice work. Thank you for sharing with us.

-- Build for the joy of it!

View fred4999's profile


107 posts in 4160 days

#3 posted 12-05-2010 06:39 PM

Again, great job! Thanks for sharing.

-- Fred, Georgia

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