Blanket/Toy Chest

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Project by JoeRPhilly posted 07-10-2015 01:53 PM 1548 views 1 time favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is a toy chest for now, but hopefully will be with my daughter through her life and become a blanket chest. I worked on this for several months and completed it back in 2014, just getting to post the project.

This was my most ambitious project to date, first large scale dovetail project. I tried a couple of small boxes pencil boxes first then dove into this. The veritas guide made things much easier.

Long story about the lumber:
All made from French Walnut, some of the most beautiful boards I’ve ever seen. They were diamonds in the rough for sure. I was browsing craigslist one morning and came across an ad for lumber, listed a bunch of species and seemed a little weird, then at the end it said ‘Free’. OK, this seems really strange, probably spam, but I’ll take my chances and give em a call. Yadda yadda yadda, it’s a real person and he says he’s gotta get all this lumber out of his barn in Lancaster. I somehow convince my wife it will be a fun hour and a half ride to go check this out ;), you know, nice scenery and all ;) so we get there, and it’s an enormous house with a barn. Sure enough there’s loads of huge long live edge slabs, probably thousands of board feet of mostly cherry, walnut, oak. Here I am with my wife in a honda accord. So I did what I had to do, started cutting 12 foot slabs in half and loaded up as much as I could, cherry, walnut, and a board or two of what he said was french walnut. This stuff was really nasty looking, tons of dirt on it, white powder, cracks, just nasty. I think I gave him about $40 and tore ass outta there like I robbed the place. Got home and took a plane to the french walnut, saw that it was cool looking underneath all that grime. Of course, I couldn’t stop thinking about all that I left behind. Should I get a uhaul and get back up there? No, pipe dreams, I can’t store all that. But I could probably fit another car load? Yes, yes, of course I can. So I get back in touch and head back a couple days later. He really wanted to get rid of the french walnut, so I figured I would take it off his hands, even though I was more tempted to get as much of the cherry that I could. So loaded up as much as I could in the honda again, the rest of the french walnut, some more cherry and walnut, and a good amount of short quarter sawn white oak. I gave him $70 that time I think, an amazing deal. I still have most of that wood. And I still wonder about the rest…

So on to the project, I hosed and brushed off the boards to get as much of the dirt off as I could and let them dry. A couple of the boards had some of the most amazing curl, fiddleback I’d ever seen. But tons of wormholes and tracks all over. And most boards had checking, bows, and twists. Eventually got it all straight and surfaced and went to work on the dovetails.

I built this moxon vise for the project

Mark em up

Saw them up and create a varied palette of sawdust

All cut and chopped

Test fit

Made these cauls for the glue up

All glued up

Screwed up and had to make breadboards for the lid because when I exposed some of the biscuits when I crosscut to length, in the end I was happy I did

All sanded

The recipient

Ready to leave the shop

Loading it up

Now always overloaded

She likes it!

I used the rockler torsion hinges, and finished with BLO then poly.

Thanks for looking!

9 comments so far

View HenryH's profile


139 posts in 3961 days

#1 posted 07-10-2015 02:45 PM

Beautiful chest. Well done. I enjoyed the story too.
I had a similar craiglist story where I rented a truck for a load of Walnut and gave the guy a couple of hundred bucks. Nice score and good job.
I knew you were from Philly or Delco from the stairs in the pic.

-- HenryH - PA

View JoeRPhilly's profile


176 posts in 2709 days

#2 posted 07-10-2015 06:02 PM

Thanks Henry! Gotta love a load of cheap PA walnut!
Haha, ya, them good old philly twin/rowhome stairs, pretty easy to spot.

View Ocelot's profile


2368 posts in 3195 days

#3 posted 07-10-2015 09:46 PM

Wow! That wood is awesome! The chest is very nice too.

View Tugboater78's profile


2788 posts in 2749 days

#4 posted 07-11-2015 12:52 AM

Thats pretty awesome!

-- "....put that handsaw to work and make it earn its keep. - summerfi" <==< JuStiN >==>=->

View gsimon's profile


1313 posts in 2670 days

#5 posted 07-11-2015 01:31 AM

Gorgeous grain and finish to this project – well done
thanks for the pics they are perfect to learn from too
Looks like it’s being well used!

-- Greg Simon

View theoldfart's profile


10974 posts in 3008 days

#6 posted 07-11-2015 01:34 AM

Beautiful piece. Great score on the wood. I made a blanket chest/ toy box for my grandson a few years ago and used the same hinges, still working well. Again nice work.

-- "With every tool obtained, there is another that is needed" DonW ( Kevin )

View david38's profile


3518 posts in 2900 days

#7 posted 07-11-2015 01:27 PM

very nice

View G5Flyr's profile


61 posts in 2290 days

#8 posted 07-13-2015 12:39 AM

Wood and chest are beautiful. Love the tiger stripes/chevrons on the front. Can’t see ‘em in the unfinished pix but the BLO makes ‘em pop! This chest will be handed down for several generations.

Loved the story too!

-- G5Flyr

View JoeRPhilly's profile


176 posts in 2709 days

#9 posted 07-14-2015 07:21 PM

Thanks all!

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