Cherry and Figured Maple Blanket Chest

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Project by gerrym526 posted 03-01-2008 10:38 PM 4745 views 14 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch

The joinery on this project was extremely challenging but fun. Plans are in the April 1998 Fine Woodworking #129 article-”A Blanket Chest with Legs” by John Mcalevey.
Top and bottom rails of the front/back are joined with double through mortise and tenons (pegged with maple). Rails of the sides are joined to the front rails with blind mortise and tenons. Mortises were cut using a Delta hollow chisel mortiser, and tenons were cut on a bandsaw and fitted using a shoulder plane and chisels. Grooves to trap the maple panels were plowed with a plunge router, using a fixture to trap the leg and allow the router to cut the groove exactly in the middle (see Gary Rogowski’s Router Joinery video for how to make this jig-also handy for cutting mortises if you don’t have a hollow chisel machine) Layout is key in this piece.
For those of you interested in the layout, I can send a photo of the layout on a scrap to give you an idea of what it involved. Definitely a measure twice, check set up three times on the machine, then cut once (your only chance). I also recommend you plan ahead for the hinges, since I found Mcalevey’s hinge and leather strap less than an ideal solution. I ended up with solid brass butt hinges (3), and a lid support (also brass).
Since assembly involved lots of glue surfaces needing clamps at the same time, I used Franklin Titebond Extend with about a 15 minute working time-needed every minute of it. Glue-up was sort of like rubbing your head, patting your stomach, and jumping up and down on one foot-simultaneously!
Finish was Bartley’s Gel Varnish (my favorite), which was wiped on-3 coats. Cherry darkens naturally, and the figured maple gets a nice golden tone as the varnish darkens.
Two very important things to keep in mind-1) If you use Cherry and figured maple, expect to take out a mortgage on your house before buying the wood (can run into the hundreds of dollars, depending on your supplier), and 2) the joinery (as mentioned) is extremely challenging, but very rewarding if you’re up to the challenge. I like to take on projects where you feel like a trapeze artist working without a net-it tends to move you up the woodworking learning curve faster. On the downside, those of you on tight budgets (and who isn’t) will want to hand yourself if you mess up on a $50 piece of cherry because you cut the mortises in the wrong place on the leg-LOL!!!
Bottom line however, if you’re married, building a piece like this for your wife is good for at least 20 more years of happy marriage!

-- Gerry

15 comments so far

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4383 days

#1 posted 03-01-2008 11:04 PM

Very nice piece! Nice simple clean lines, and fantastic execution.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 4217 days

#2 posted 03-02-2008 01:35 AM

Very nice piece. How did you happen to know that cherry and maple are my favorite combinations? From your description this project is definately a challenge.

Nice job, Gerry.

Thanks for the post.

By the way I assume that from your build your wife was happy with the project?

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View CharlieM1958's profile


16283 posts in 4613 days

#3 posted 03-02-2008 04:54 AM

Great looking chest. The woods really work wonderfully together.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 4269 days

#4 posted 03-02-2008 01:28 PM

Wonderful piece. The craftsmanship is apparent.

View Ad Marketing Guy - Bill's profile

Ad Marketing Guy - Bill

314 posts in 4193 days

#5 posted 03-02-2008 03:40 PM

QUALITY piece! The maple pegs provide a really classic touch.

-- Bill - - Ad-Marketing Guy, Ramsey NJ

View Belle City Woodworking's profile

Belle City Woodworking

356 posts in 4411 days

#6 posted 03-02-2008 05:12 PM

Excellent Piece! Great work!

-- Formerly known as John's Woodshop - and NO not the one from Ohio!

View mjlauro's profile


244 posts in 4156 days

#7 posted 03-02-2008 08:14 PM

I love a great chest, nice work. This makes me want to get started on one very soon.

View Dorje's profile


1763 posts in 4392 days

#8 posted 03-03-2008 06:02 AM

Good looking piece there! Looks like a satisfting project!

-- Dorje (pronounced "door-jay"), Seattle, WA

View Bradford's profile


1434 posts in 4218 days

#9 posted 03-03-2008 05:08 PM

beautiful piece.

-- so much wood, so little time. Bradford. Wood-a-holics unanimous president

View SteveV's profile


78 posts in 4494 days

#10 posted 03-20-2008 09:03 PM

Hey, I just came across this post. I posted the same project last year. I was looking for a design for a client and found this one in FWW and built it. I agree the joinery was tough. I no longer have mine as it was sold. Do you still have yours?


View leonmcd's profile


204 posts in 4366 days

#11 posted 03-20-2008 09:11 PM

Very nice work and thanks for taking the time to describe your trials and tribulations.

-- Leon -- Houston, TX - " I create all my own designs and it looks like it "

View ND2ELK's profile


13495 posts in 4169 days

#12 posted 04-03-2008 03:50 PM

Hi Gerry

Nice looking chest. You did a beautiful job on it. I like the way you give some good information on how your pieces are made. I should probably do more of that. Thanks for posting.

God Bless

-- Mc Bridge Cabinets, Iowa

View michaeldmunro's profile


11 posts in 3699 days

#13 posted 05-12-2009 04:17 PM

Nice simple lines. Looks great!


View a1Jim's profile


117627 posts in 3972 days

#14 posted 05-12-2009 05:36 PM

wonderful work looks greart

View PaulL's profile


3 posts in 3653 days

#15 posted 06-24-2009 09:14 PM

Hi, Great project. I thought I would give this one a try myself. You offered a copy of your project plans, could you please send me a copy. [email protected]


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