Heirloom Cedar Hope Chest

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Project by wooleywoodsmith posted 04-08-2010 08:07 PM 2618 views 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

so here is my latest project. I went through all of the lumber that I had on hand and picked out enought pieces to build 8 of these hope chests. They are made of western red cedar, coated with 1 coat of linseed oil, 2 coats of shallac and 2 coats of lacqure. I placed a gallon of milk insid one to give an idea of how big they are. The measurements are 20”wide X 34”long X 26”tall. So now that they are built I am hoping to sell them. I am not sure as to how much maybe some of you could give me some feed back. I am thinking of asking one of the following $150 $200 or $300. I am sure that I can get $300 or more for them but my issue is more not of how much I can get but how fast I can get rid of them. I have probably 30+ hours into each one counting the thyme that it took me to prep, glue, plane and sand and finish. I know that these chests are not factory perfect, lots of tooling marks from the hand planes that I used. I wasn’t very good about getting all of my sanding scratches out of them eather but hey they are hand crafted. I would love some feed back should anyone care to. Thanks Michael (the wooley woodsmith)

-- wooley

8 comments so far

View Richard 's profile


394 posts in 4405 days

#1 posted 04-09-2010 12:14 AM

Hi Wooley
My experieces at selling chests were not so good. I do woodworking as a hobby and I am not a busines man. I been making chests for friends and family members for Christmas, birthdays, ect. Well I thought I could sell a few to offset the cost of lumber, glue, planer blades.

When I was making them to sell, every little defect, scratch mark, crooked hinge, or unsanded spot was magnified in my mind. Also I started keeping track on how many hours I spent on each chest. What became of an enjoyable hobby, turned into time keeping and worry. And when I did sell a couple of chests for $275.00, the money wasn’t worth it with all the time, lumber, hardware, and worrying. Also customers wanted to know if they could buy 3 or 4 at a time for a discount (like I had lots in stock).

Now I tend to donate my chests to silent auctions and fundraisers, and try to get a tax credit from each charity. I now enjoy building chests, not having to worry about time spent on each chest, and what the bottom line will be. I reclaimed my hobby and made it fun again.

Now if you cant find a good market for your chests and gratefull clients, I say go for it.
I looked at your other projects you make some great looking birdhouses.

-- Richard Boise, Idaho

View wooleywoodsmith's profile


152 posts in 4645 days

#2 posted 04-09-2010 12:17 AM

thank you Richard for your imput and taking a look at me other stuffs

-- wooley

View HeirloomWoodworking's profile


238 posts in 5024 days

#3 posted 04-09-2010 05:19 AM

Wooley that is a great chest! I really like it, and I am sure you have got alot of time and effort into creating 8 of them.

Great job and good luck in selling your wares. It is so hard to put a fair price on these types of projects, and still feel like you got a decent amount for your time and labor.

Whom ever does take one of these chests home, will have a true hand made treasure.

Keep up the good work

-- Trevor Premer Head Termite and Servant to the Queen - Heirloom Woodworking

View Frankie Talarico Jr.'s profile

Frankie Talarico Jr.

353 posts in 4641 days

#4 posted 04-09-2010 02:04 PM

I also found it very hard to make money on projects like this. People don’t care or understand the time it takes. The lumber alone is most of the cost. If you insisted on selling I would reccommend going to flea markets, fairs, and stuff like that. You need to be there to justify the cost. Give them a reason to appreciate the craftsmanship. I tried and tried, it gets hard to draw a line between hobby and sellable product. YOu need to make jigs and all the proper setup before you start building them in quantities. This way you basically mass produce them. Dont build one at a time, you’ll never make money that way. It’s unfortunates but people are picky and frugle. I say find something that takes ten minutes to make then sell it like it takes an hour.

At the fairs when someone is looking at them don’t say, and I quote ” This guy was feeling my chest and he really liked it”
Nice work

It just don’t sound right.

-- Live by what you believe, not what they want you to believe.

View wooleywoodsmith's profile


152 posts in 4645 days

#5 posted 04-09-2010 02:48 PM

Thank you guys. I am fortunate in the fact that I didn’t have to purchace any of the wood and that right now I am laid off from work, (any one know of a job in the twin cities area MN) so my costs involved are not very high mostly just thyme in the box.

-- wooley

View tblank's profile


83 posts in 4254 days

#6 posted 04-09-2010 10:33 PM

Still very nice chest and finish. I love to work with cedar. All any of us see when we look at our work are the little picadillos that frustrated us when they happened. There IS NO perfection, only those who learned good cover-ups! One question….how did you attach the tail on the right side???

View wooleywoodsmith's profile


152 posts in 4645 days

#7 posted 04-11-2010 01:04 AM

Tblank I would love to tell you all of my trade secrets but…. thanks again

-- wooley

View ohwoodeye's profile (online now)


2708 posts in 4437 days

#8 posted 04-13-2010 08:15 PM

These look very nice. I especially like the one with the cats tail coming out of the side of it….......that is a unique feature.

-- "Fine Woodworking" is the name given to a project that takes 3 times longer than normal to finish because you used hand tools instead of power tools. ----Mike, Waukesha, WI

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