Cedar-lined Blanket Chest

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Project by Woodhacker posted 04-13-2008 09:57 PM 4165 views 11 times favorited 19 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is a cedar-lined blanket chest I made for my sister for her birthday (actually this will cover all her birthdays for the rest of her life…at least that’s what I told her). A few years back she’d casually mentioned how neat it would be to find an “old-fashioned” chest for storage. I’d kind of kept that in the back of my mind, when I got this idea when thinking about the curved tops of old “treasure chests”.

This is made of quarter-sawn red oak. The design is my own, although very little was ever written down. If I recall correctly the dimensions are 42” by 22”. After studying two of Rob Cosman’s DVDs on hand-cut dovetails, I wanted to try them out. After practicing several “joints” in scrap wood, I got the courage to begin and this chest was the result,... which has developed within, a real affection for hand-cut dovetails. The cedar tray inside also employs hand-cut dovetails.

The top is made of seven boards or facets. My brother (an engineer) helped with the exact bevel angle along the edges of each board joined to form the top. Each joint in the top has a ¼ by 3/8 inch oak spline running down the length for strength. The grooves for the splines were challenging, but making a simple jig and using my router table worked out fine…eventually. Gluing the top pieces was quite a challenge and almost comical, given the contraption-like looking set up of a series of clamps used in conjunction with the vises on my workbench. I was tempted to round off the top into one continuous curved form, but decided against it in favor of the faceted look.

Even though I don’t like to use metal fasteners in joinery, the curved portion is actually countersunk-screwed to the sides of the top, primarily because I couldn’t find a good way to use clamps. These are covered with oak dowels cut flush.

The hardware was purchased through the Van Dyke’s Restorers catalog. It’s untreated iron, which I rubbed with steel wool loaded with paste wax to remove most of the rust, then finished using a cloth with another coat of wax.

The cedar lining is the typical precut tongue and groove type you can find at lumberyards. None of the cedar lining was finished, nor was it glued or fastened directly. The support strips for the tray inside are dado’d (and screwed, not glued) into the sides of the chest, but also have a groove cut underneath which also holds the cedar siding in place at the top. Then the “floor” cedar planks were “press-fit” into the bottom forcing the siding against the perimeter walls of the chest around the bottom. The tray supports can be removed and the cedar can all be replaced or sanded in the future as needed to bring back the cedar aroma.

The tray has felt “runners” on the bottom so it can easily slide back and forth along its supports for access to either side of the lower compartment.

The entire piece was wiped with a wet rag to raise the grain, then sanded to 220 grit, after which an oil coat was applied. Four coats of poly/oil blend followed and after curing, the finish was hand rubbed with paste wax using 0000 steel wool prior to buffing. The bottom (unseen) includes corner supports with hand turned bun feet, also made of quarter-sawn oak.

Because of the size/weight, it really takes two to safely carry this thing.

-- Martin, Kansas

19 comments so far

View Callum Kendall's profile

Callum Kendall

1918 posts in 4159 days

#1 posted 04-13-2008 10:22 PM

Nice chest, geat work!

Thanks for the post


-- For wood working podcasts with a twist check out

View CharlieM1958's profile


16283 posts in 4674 days

#2 posted 04-13-2008 11:31 PM

Wow….a lot of work and a great result!

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

View grovemadman's profile


556 posts in 4228 days

#3 posted 04-14-2008 12:39 AM

Aaaaaaaargh, ‘tis one fine chest ye have made here! Now we all have one big question swabbey; Where did ye hide the treasure!!!!

-- --Chuck

View WIwoodworker's profile


65 posts in 4154 days

#4 posted 04-14-2008 12:41 AM

That’s a beautiful chest. Your sister should be thrilled. Even though you told her it covers her birthdays for life it doesn’t cover everyone else’s birthdays for life. And you know she’s going to show it off to everyone in the world and you’ll start getting a lot of requests to make more. Nice job. You should be very pleased with your work.

-- Allen, Milwaukee, WI

View MSRiverdog's profile


93 posts in 4192 days

#5 posted 04-14-2008 12:50 AM

Aaaaaaaargh, that’s my chest, where’s my treasure!!!!!!


View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4444 days

#6 posted 04-14-2008 01:26 AM

Great looking chest. I love the smell of cedar.

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

View Grumpy's profile


25543 posts in 4307 days

#7 posted 04-14-2008 02:01 AM

What a lucky sister. Great job Woodhacker.

-- Grumpy - "Always look on the bright side of life"- Monty Python

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 4278 days

#8 posted 04-14-2008 02:21 AM


This is a great looking chest. The hardware and the dovetails add nice details to the piece.

Thanks for the post.

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

View Dan'um Style's profile

Dan'um Style

14181 posts in 4439 days

#9 posted 04-14-2008 06:59 AM

outstanding piece … great choice of materials !

-- keeping myself entertained ... Humor and fun lubricate the brain

View davidtheboxmaker's profile


373 posts in 4261 days

#10 posted 04-14-2008 10:24 AM

That’s a really nice present for you sister. Excellent design and execution.

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 4702 days

#11 posted 04-14-2008 04:49 PM

Thats a beautiful blanket chest, or treasure chest. Very cool. Well made. mike

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View stanley_clifton's profile


196 posts in 4159 days

#12 posted 04-14-2008 11:50 PM

Splendid: a present to be treasured for life. I’m really jealous of the dovetails, something I seem unable to get the hang off.

-- Stanley generally struggling

View ND2ELK's profile


13495 posts in 4230 days

#13 posted 04-15-2008 01:51 AM

Very nicely done chest. You did a beautiful job on it. I made one for my wife to pass on to her daughter and granddaughter. Posted on my sight. Thanks for posting.

God Bless

-- Mc Bridge Cabinets, Iowa

View Woodhacker's profile


1139 posts in 4179 days

#14 posted 04-17-2008 12:50 AM

Thank you all for the comments. This site has a bunch of great members. I’m fairly new to this site but have been in and out of it for a few months prior to joining. One thing great about this site is that it’s obvious everyone is helpful to each other as fellow woodworkers.

Tom, I like the chest you did and the images inside the top are a great personalized addition. I was actually considering a similar style before I ended up with deciding trying my own design.

-- Martin, Kansas

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4047 posts in 4519 days

#15 posted 05-31-2008 08:47 AM

That’s an heirloom if ever I saw one. I’ll bet MsDebbieP would want one.

(from WayneC's shop tour)

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over two decades.

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