Prototype Keepsake Chest

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Project by Ribeye posted 09-02-2013 09:00 AM 2289 views 5 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I had seen this chest on a magazine cover a while ago, and thought it would be a great present for my daughters. This project, with the coopered lid, finger joints, and bent bands, promised to introduce me to some new techniques. In the spirit of Norm, I decided to make a prototype chest out of “paahpla” before breaking into my stash of walnut. The dimensions are: 21” long x 12 inches deep x 14” tall

The main body of the chest is made from a single wide board, with finger joints made on the table saw using a stop block and a shim the exact width of my rip blade. The method actually worked very well, making very tight joints. I laid out the fingers in a symetrical pattern, so I was able to make four cuts on each board with each setup. The fingers on the lid were cut by hand, since I couldn’t figure out how to do it on the table saw. The rounded top of the lid was actually fairly easy, and gave me an excuse to use my handplane.

The strips are made of cherry and were bent on a hot pipe using the method shown in the magazine article. That turned out to be harder than anticipated. I blew out and burned several pieces before I got it right. Next time I will probably steam the strips and use the lid as a drying form. I used copper nails to attach the strips, and managed to find matching hinges and handles. The finish is Danish oil.

I’ve already got two more chests in progress for the girls. They will be slightly smaller, since my walnut boards are not quite as wide as the poplar, but I still expect they will love having a “treasure chest”

11 comments so far

View Tugboater78's profile


2796 posts in 3276 days

#1 posted 09-02-2013 09:48 AM

Pretty nice!

-- "....put that handsaw to work and make it earn its keep. - summerfi" <==< JuStiN >==>=->

View Michael Wilson's profile

Michael Wilson

588 posts in 3574 days

#2 posted 09-02-2013 02:21 PM

Yep. Nice work. Not sure I’ve ever seen finger joints up in to the lid like that.

What is that “bent on a hot pipe” method?

View a1Jim's profile


118162 posts in 4661 days

#3 posted 09-02-2013 03:14 PM

Unique design ,well done.


View aussiedave's profile


3114 posts in 2908 days

#4 posted 09-02-2013 04:40 PM

Awesome keepsake chest…love the contrasting bands on the chest…great job.

-- Dave.......If at first you don’t succeed redefine success....

View Northwest29's profile


1710 posts in 3574 days

#5 posted 09-02-2013 06:18 PM

Very nice project – well done. Care to share which magazine cover?

-- Ron, "Curiosity is a terrible thing to waste."

View Ribeye's profile


8 posts in 3240 days

#6 posted 09-02-2013 08:29 PM

Thanks for the kind words guys. It looks like the Aug/Sept issue of American Woodworker was the one that detailed this chest build and the hot pipe bending. The chest appears on the front of their 25 years of magazines collection as well. I attached a picture of my hot pipe bending jig. You soak thin strips of wood in water, and bend them around the pipe, which acts as a form and heater in one. My issue was that by the time the wood heated up enough to release and start bending, it was scorching on the bottom side.

View tomd's profile


2222 posts in 4854 days

#7 posted 09-03-2013 01:37 AM

Very nice work, looks great. The finger joints look excellent, I’ve bent wood using a heat gun. Will like to see the walnut chests.

-- Tom D

View Fishinbo's profile


11362 posts in 3260 days

#8 posted 09-05-2013 06:53 PM

It looks fantastic, great design and joints. Your daughters will love and cherish them. Great job!

View Ivan's profile


16791 posts in 3951 days

#9 posted 09-07-2013 05:17 PM

Beautiful and realistic deatils. Cherry looks great

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View Marty 529's profile

Marty 529

344 posts in 2803 days

#10 posted 09-11-2013 06:54 PM

Pretty impressive. I love the look. Copper nails are a nice touch to the strips.

-- Marty, Ohio

View Patrick71's profile


1 post in 2767 days

#11 posted 10-17-2013 03:44 AM


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