One of a Kind Blanket Chest
This is the second major Christmas present I made for Sarah this last year.
(Note: Since we are married, we refer to it as a blanket chest and not a Hope Chest.)
The carcase is built out of plywood with maple on one side and birch on the other. I bought the plywood at Home Depot for about $40, and I only used one sheet. I dug through their pile and found a sheet with some fiddle back on the maple skin.
The carcase measures 36″ long, 22″ high, and 18″ deep. It’s important to keep the chest to the right size. I have seen at least two homemade chests that are too large . The woodworkers mistakenly assumed that 24 x 48″ is the way to go since those are easy measurements. Can I say bulky. I usually design all of my furniture to middle numbers — 3 1/2 feet instead of 4 and 18 inches instead of 24 — since I find this more pleasing to the eye.
The lid sports curly maple, walnut, and lyptus veneers. I bought a big chunk of curly maple from a company called All Righteous Woods.
The walnut was scrap and makes up the small diamond in the center. I bought the lyptus from a local lumber yard, and used it for the border.
This was my first attempt making veneers, and they turned out great — thick, straight, and attractive. To cut the veneers, I used a bandsaw to resaw the wood. The veneers are about 1/8″ thick, a thickness that you won’t find commercially. I lacked a vacuum clamp, so to ensure the boards stayed in their proper place, I glued one half down at a time. I stacked a pile of weights on the top to hold the veneers steady while drying.
You will also notice that I book-matched the curly maple together. This added to the geometric design of the lid and carcass, as well as tied the veneer pieces together.
I installed aromatic cedar in the inside. My grandpa had a log of cedar lying around and let me resaw it to the thickness needed. It had a deep, purple color and a rich, sweet smell.
The Trim and Details
For the trim, I used the left over lyptus. For the curves, I traced a couple of cans and then cut the wood on the bandsaw. I also ripped a thin strip of maple to tack along the lid edge and top of the carcase to hide the plywood edge.
I went out on a limb and tried a completely new finish — an antique maple affect. I followed the steps found on the Association of Restorers‘ website and also referred to my book, Great Wood Finishes by Jewitt (Taunton Press). It was an labor-intensive finish, but the results were worth it.