It took two tries, but the result was worth it.
SHOP OWNER: Barb Siddiqui
LOCATION: Wenatchee, WA
This is my version of a blanket chest that appeared on the cover of Fine Woodworking #129 (April '98) by John McAlevey. He made his in beautiful bird's-eye maple, and it was 47" long, 24" high and 22" wide. I scaled it down to 42 1/2" x 20 1/2" x 18 1/2" to fit in the back seat of our car so we could transport it to California this summer--a gift for my daughter-in-law. Re-dimensioning all the parts and joinery took me two full days, but even without a CAD program, it worked.
The box opens on a leather strap and three brass surface hinges. The finish is an oil finish I bought from Stephen Shepherd, "Moses T's Gunstocker's Finish" on the mahogany, and oil finish with wax on the maple veneer ply. The mahogany is unfilled, as I like its natural look.
There is a story behind the maple ply. I had been given some recycled hardrock maple flooring by my remodeler/son-in-law. I thought I could salvage it and use it in the mahogony framework of the blanket chest. It had nail holes I intended to fill and cover (which didn't work well), and it needed to be ripped, planed and edge-glued.
Winter came and I had to carry parts into the house for the glue-up. I was scrambling to get this project done for Christmas, and, on December 23rd, I carried it all back outside to assemble the floating panels in the framework, and lo and behold, my maple panels looks striped when set against the mahogany. It looked disastrous, and I hated it.
I laid down my tools and went to the mall to buy my daughter-in-law a sweater, and Christmas was depressing for me. Afterward, I decided on maple ply for its obvious uniformity, and instead of cove-cutting the edges as the plan called for, I rabbetted them in and I think they look fine. One thing I failed to photograph is the cedar closet-lining I put in the floor of the box. And, on the inside end board, a stamp barely shows up that says "From the shop of," followed by my initials and year it was made.
This project was a request by my daughter-in-law, who wanted a blanket chest instead of a cradle last year for the new grandbaby. I had never done wedged, double-through tenons before, and I have to admit, the challenge was a lot of fun. I like the joinery--its sturdiness as well as its eye appeal--and want to use it again. I hope this box will last her a long time. Thanks for viewing.. . . Barb Siddiqui
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