Blanket Chest

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Project by jsheaney posted 10-04-2011 07:35 AM 4310 views 16 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is a blanket chest that I built as a wedding present for my daughter. Her mother handmade a quilt to go with it. As usual, there were many new experiences for me. The plans came from Tommy MacDonald’s article in Fine Woodworking. I bought the special beading bit, but ended up not using it. Once I saw the grain of the mahogany, I decided the straight lines of the beading just didn’t make sense.

The frame is mahogany that came from one 8/4 9’ x 17” board. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get the top out of it, so I ended up getting that from a different board. The color was fairly different, but it kind of accentuates the quilted maple. I’m sure it will darken over time.

The quilted maple is, of course veneer. I had only ever veneered one small panel before; my beer tray. In this case, I used the Better Bond cold press veneer glue. I used the lightest color because of the maple, although it probably didn’t matter. The veneer came from I’ve never purchased wood of any kind online before, so I was a bit nervous. They have pictures of the lots on the website, but then you call them on the phone. I talked to someone directly and told him what I needed and he put together 16 separately cut sheets of veneer; 4 of them larger than the rest for the side panels. Beautiful stuff. I was very happy.

I made a pile of platens out of 3/4 MDF and I made some cauls for clamping. The veneer was a bit wavy, so I used Pro-Glue Veneer Softener to flatten them. That worked very well. I used 3/8 birch ply for the substrate. The whole process was really easy. The glue goes on with a roller like latex paint. The directions say it should look like a freshly painted wall. Then I put on the veneer and used a roller to flatten it. The veneer wanted to curl up, so I just worked fast and flipped it over, did the other side and got it in the platens. The clamping flattened everything and they came out perfect. Of course, I made them oversized and then trimmed them down to the final dimensions. There was a tiny bit of chipping along the edges off the table saw, but well within depth of the grooves for the panels. I did use the quilted maple for both sides. I could have used a secondary veneer for the insides, but I was not confident of my abilities, so I figured it would be best to do both sides with the good stuff so I had two shots at having a good show side.

I sanded the panels and then finished them with two coats of Bush Oil to pop the grain. Then I used 3-5 coats of poly on each side, sanding out the dust nibs between coats. I then sanded up to a 1500 grit. Then I used a sanding pad. Then I polished them with pumice and rottenstone. I found the process to be a bit frustrating getting the exact sheen I wanted, but I think they came out well. Again, I did both sides of each panel just because I wasn’t sure which side would come out best. When the panels were completely done, I put a heavy chamfer on all the edges to ease the assembly. A couple of panels ended up being just too tight, so I sanded a bevel around the inside edges and re-applied another coat of poly without making fuss over it. By that time I already knew which was the show side.

The hinges are special toy box hinges. You can see that the lid will just stay in position at any angle. They are very well designed with a very good fit and finish. You order specific torque ratings for your lid. These are rated at 40 inch-lbs for a total of 120, which matches this lid. They are specifically designed for a 3/4” thick back, so I had some tricky mortising to do because the back is 1 1/4”. I used a palm router to rough out the top of the mortises. I used chisels to clean up the sides. I used a hand saw and chisels to make the notches. It was kind of difficult because I had to do the work after the case was completely assembled and finished, mainly because I didn’t get the hinges until the very end. It all went together very well, though. I was very happy with them.

The overhang of the lid was interesting. I had originally planned on 3/4”, but I used a 1/2” round-over bit for the edge. I really wanted the filet on the top. Fortunately, I did a test piece because I realized that the combination meant that the overhang had to be 1/2” so the filet would line up properly with the legs.

I used cedar for the floor which is screwed into ledges along the inside bottom. I think that’s enough cedar.

The frame is all pegged mortise and tenon joinery. The pegs are walnut. I used two coats of Bush Oil, which made the pegs look as dark as ebony.

-- Disappointment is an empty box full of expectation.

9 comments so far

View Brett's profile


951 posts in 3324 days

#1 posted 10-04-2011 07:42 AM

Super job! The wood is beautiful. Good job on the hinges too, those look tricky to mortise.

-- Hand Crafted by Brett Peterson John 3:16

View WoodJediNTraining's profile


409 posts in 3258 days

#2 posted 10-04-2011 07:47 AM

Very Nice Chest.. I am in the process of making a hickory and cedar chest, never having built one ive been on here looking for insight and Great Job!!

-- Newbie, aka Wood_Jedi,

View dubsaloon's profile


622 posts in 3358 days

#3 posted 10-04-2011 08:16 AM

Wonderful job! Veneer is some daunting stuff until you try it. Thanks for sharing.

-- The works of evil people are not the problem. It is the "Good" people standing by and watching not speaking up. Dubsaloon

View George Coles's profile

George Coles

188 posts in 3010 days

#4 posted 10-04-2011 12:24 PM

All I can say is great job and I agree with your choice not to router the mahogany is beautiful.

Can you tell me the name of the hinges and if you know where to buy them online? Would really like to get some for a project I have coming up. Thanks and again a great job.

-- George Coles,

View cplant's profile


226 posts in 3129 days

#5 posted 10-04-2011 12:37 PM

nice piece. its nice to see another bush oil fan :)

-- "...if america is any indication, i was born into one great big vacation...." RMB

View woodworm's profile


14476 posts in 4155 days

#6 posted 10-04-2011 03:00 PM

Very nice looking chest. I like the color combination.

-- masrol, kuala lumpur, MY.

View shopmania's profile


701 posts in 3747 days

#7 posted 10-04-2011 05:49 PM

Great job! The grain on the mahogany and the maple is really beautiful! You did a really nice job on those complex mortises. It looks like if you did some touch-up by adding some finish to where you cut the mortises it would make it look even better. A small art brush would be great. Awesome project!

-- Tim, Myrtle Beach, [email protected] Just one more tool, that's all I need! :)

View jsheaney's profile


141 posts in 4553 days

#8 posted 10-04-2011 07:02 PM

Newbie: You’re where I was a few months ago. I Favorited a pile of blanket chests here before deciding on this design. Although this design is mainly based on TMac’s article, there are several differences based on what I saw from projects posted by others. It’s great being able to draw from all these community resources.

George: for the site. The hinges are at

Let me know if need any more info about them. They’re more expensive than most at $22 apiece.

cplant: I use Bush Oil alot. It’s easy, looks good and I generally don’t use more than 2 coats.

Tim: I went back and forth on that one. I thought that over time the mortises might look worse if the hinge marred the finish, whereas naked it just looks like a hinge mortise. It was a coin toss for me and I was out of time, so I went with the quicker solution – do nothing. :)

Thanks for all the comments!

-- Disappointment is an empty box full of expectation.

View jsheaney's profile


141 posts in 4553 days

#9 posted 05-21-2013 02:49 AM

I just wanted to add a bit of information. I saw the blanket chest about a year later. The entire mahogany frame came from one board, but I could not get the top out of it. I bought another board separately at a later date. In the pictures, it is obvious that the top was lighter. Well, it has darkened considerably over time and is much closer to the color of the frame than it was before. It sits near enough to a window to catch some diffuse sunlight. In fact, when you open the lid, you can see the underside is much closer to the original color. You can see a rectangle corresponding to where the lid sits on the frame. I was happy to see that. Prior to that, I had dark thoughts about replacing the top someday.

-- Disappointment is an empty box full of expectation.

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