Emma's Hope Chest

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Project by Marcos posted 03-18-2013 10:54 PM 6239 views 1 time favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Here is a chest that I made for my God-daughter who is 11 months old. It is made out of Santos mahogany and Peruvian walnut, with plywood bottoms. It has a sliding drawer within, and the bottom of the chest is lined with aromatic cedar. I had never worked with Santos mahogany, and although it has a beautiful color and appearance, it is kind of a pain to work with. I’ll try to avoid working with it again. The grain is very interwoven and prone to all sorts of cracks and blow outs, and the splinters are nasty!

I made a box-joint jig for the table saw, as I was unable to find any other ideas for larger pieces, besides using a pricey router jig. It was very challenging, as standing a dense piece that rises 40 inches on end in a jig is not easy, let alone over and over again for each knuckle. I used a fence that went up about halfway, and at times it was a bit hairy reaching around it to slide the piece forward. I clamped it each time and although I probably could have gotten away without doing so, it just “felt” better to do it. The joints were nowhere near perfect, and required quite a bit of hand tuning and wood filler, but I like the way they came out, and they really stand out nicely.

I sanded the whole thing to about 330 and finished it with 4 coats of Daly’s Seafin teak oil. I wet sanded quite a bit to fill some natural cracks that formed in the mahogany, and they came out looking like very interesting accents. Next time, I would probably add a third torsion hinge on it, as it will not hold the lid open if it is angled any less than about 45 degrees and I used the ones with the heaviest rating at 60 pounds, and I’d hate to think of Emma smashing her fingers with this.

I make most of my pieces from my head, and don’t ever plan them out much. I’m a “cut first, design later” kind of guy. I have a terrible time following instructions, and as a result, make quite a few mistakes every time I make something. I love fixing errors. I’ve learned so much from doing so that I enjoy them now. Sometimes those mistakes turn out to be the most attractive features on a piece, such as the slight rebate on the front and back where the box joints are. Initially, an error became a very nice detail.

All in all, I had a lot of fun putting this baby together. Hope she enjoys it for the rest of her life.

Thanks for all of the inspiration!

-- Marcos, California

7 comments so far

View oakwood's profile


327 posts in 3315 days

#1 posted 03-18-2013 11:39 PM

The chest is very clean and rich looking. Nice solid build, beautiful finish and definitely a heirloom to be. I hope you signed and dated it somewhere. The little one is very lucky and will much appreciate it someday. Great work and thanks for posting.

View jeffswildwood's profile


4946 posts in 3222 days

#2 posted 03-18-2013 11:54 PM

This is one truly beautiful chest. Love the contrasting wood tones. The seams around the joints are a really nice touch! As for mistakes, I too sometimes start a project just “in my head” and make quite a few. But I say “if you never make mistakes, you will never learn how to fix them”.

-- We all make mistakes, the trick is to fix it in a way that says "I meant to do that".

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3935 days

#3 posted 03-19-2013 12:49 AM

That turned out very nice! I really like the “rebates” adjacent to the box joints and plan to steal that idea (mistake or not)! Your box joints all look to be the correct width but maybe cut a little deep. Looks like more clamping pressure would have closed them up tight?? Yer bein way too hard on yerslf! That is a beautiful chest!

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30646 posts in 3583 days

#4 posted 03-19-2013 01:37 AM

Clean and classy

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View bowtie's profile


990 posts in 3591 days

#5 posted 03-19-2013 01:54 AM

Nice looking chest, I’m sure she’ll treasure it.
I’m the same way on planning as I go, even if I try to use plans my mind wanders off in its own way….

-- bowtie,.....jus passin thru....

View Fishinbo's profile


11362 posts in 3421 days

#6 posted 03-21-2013 03:01 PM

It’s gorgeous and the work on that hope chest is outstanding. Worth every effort exerted. A keeper indeed!

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 4112 days

#7 posted 03-21-2013 03:11 PM

This is a beautiful piece. Congratulations.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

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