Shaker Style Blanket Chest

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Project by HappyHowie posted 01-06-2016 04:28 AM 2806 views 3 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I have been making some furniture for family members that ask. Our granddaughter Brittany asked for a blanket chest. I told her I would make her one for which she would be proud. I’m sure she chose a blanket chest because she saw one that I made for another granddaughter earlier last year. That one was made from eastern yellow pine as shown below.

Little Lola’s Blanket (Treasure) Chest…

For Brittany’s blanket chest I chose wormy maple. It has a grain characteristic that is unique. I had also researched a Shaker Blanket Chest that I had found in my subscription to Popular Woodworking Magazine that I liked a lot. It was in the October 2013 issue #206, pp. 24-31. It was made by the magazine’s editor Megan Fitzpatrick.

There were a few things about that reproduction that I decided I would do differently. Those things were: (1) I would make the bottom with ship-lapped boards in order to work with wood movement with humidity changes. (2) I would make the back of the plinth like the curved front. And thirdly, I would not concern myself with making the dovetails and panel thicknesses exactly like the mid-1800s Shaker chest.

With these design criteria, I began building this blanket chest. Today, I completed this project.

For those that want any insights into its design and the issues I confronted, I made a blog about its build. Look for my blog entitled Blanket Chest and follow my build…

-- --- Happy Howie

12 comments so far

View doubleDD's profile


10805 posts in 3332 days

#1 posted 01-06-2016 04:37 AM

Beautifully made chest with nice joinery. Good choice with wormy maple. Those torsion hinges are great.

-- Dave, Downers Grove, Il. -------- When you run out of ideas, start building your dreams.

View Gary's profile


1514 posts in 5613 days

#2 posted 01-06-2016 11:36 AM

The chest looks superb. Nice work.

-- Gary, Florida

View horky's profile


331 posts in 4219 days

#3 posted 01-06-2016 01:31 PM

Howie, a great job and a great looking chest for sure. It will be treasured. Thanks for the blog as well.

View Miataguy's profile


157 posts in 2564 days

#4 posted 01-06-2016 01:36 PM

Nice work!

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 4155 days

#5 posted 01-06-2016 01:40 PM

You did a fine job on this blanket chest. Congratulations.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View david38's profile


3518 posts in 3632 days

#6 posted 01-06-2016 03:01 PM

looks great

View HappyHowie's profile


485 posts in 3234 days

#7 posted 01-06-2016 04:43 PM

Thanks guys. It was a fun build and a huge learning experience especially about my lack of skills with Shellac.

I need to practice with either pieces of scrap wood or a small personal project. After applying poorly my first coat of amber Shellac, I decided to wipe it off. I took many rags with denatured alcohol and rubbed all of that off my blanket chest. Then I sanded it and prepared it to go again, but with a different finish.

I will try rubbing Shellac next time, on a different project. I heard Chuck say I, a beginner with this finish, should have used a one pound cut. I will need to do that. For me using Zinsser’s amber Shellac directly from the can with a brush, it dried way too quickly on this project. I learned you cannot touch the same spot twice in a coat application.

I watched several videos before trying to brush Shellac. However, I must say Chuck Bender makes brushing this finish much too easy for me, a mere mortal, for me to understand. Thus, I believe Chuck is either an advanced alien or a time traveler. More likely, Chuck is someone from the past since he loves to build period pieces. Has he ever built anything but period pieces? I think he goes so far with his period pieces as to place the same hammer and tool marks on his work as the work he is copying. Am I kidding? I don’t know.

Watch Chuck Bender explain his techniques for brushing Shellac for yourself, if you haven’t like me mastered the application of this finish.

Chuck Bender on:
Brush Tips
Highland Woodworking interview stating at 16:15 minutes...

-- --- Happy Howie

View Matt's profile


137 posts in 3171 days

#8 posted 01-06-2016 11:17 PM

Howie, that chest loks fantastic! It’s a simple (in a good way), strong chest made from very nice wood and I bet your granddaughter is thrilled with it. Good call on the finish—I think amber shellac looks great on pine, but the natural look of poly/varnish fits your wormy maple very well.

If you give the shellac another go, try mixing it with an equal amount of denatured alcohol. I watched a Jay Bates video on it before I first used it. He recommened mixing the shellac and denatured alcohol in a clean paint can and making sure to use a good, dedicated brush. It seems to be much more forgiving, thinned like that.

View TheBronzeoakleaf's profile


36 posts in 3252 days

#9 posted 01-07-2016 02:56 AM

The wood is beautiful, and I like the more traditional layout of the dovetails.

-- Sam,

View Ivan's profile


17060 posts in 4156 days

#10 posted 01-07-2016 02:16 PM

The wood looks great. You’ve done good job with dovetails.

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View HappyHowie's profile


485 posts in 3234 days

#11 posted 01-07-2016 04:05 PM

Thank you for the Jay Bates suggestion. I will seek out his video.

-- --- Happy Howie

View HappyHowie's profile


485 posts in 3234 days

#12 posted 01-07-2016 04:26 PM

Majuvla, here is a name from Croatia for you that I know: Kresimir Cosic… I watched him play college basketball with Danny Ainge in the early 70s. What an amazing talent, player, coach and human being he was. I know he later lead your Olympic team as a player and coach. His life was too short…

Kresimir loved his homeland.

When the Iron Curtain fell and Tito passed conflicts like in your country raged all over Eastern Europe. I am sure every family there was affected by these terrible things. Hopefully, you have found peace and some freedoms to go with your enjoyment in making beautiful things in wood. You have my best wishes.

From what I have seen in movies and in photographs, your country is very beautiful. You must be filled with amazing pride knowing that these days people from everywhere can travel to and within your country to enjoy its beauty and culture.

Did I go over the top with my reply? I hope not.

Thank you for your kind comments on my chest.

-- --- Happy Howie

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