Miniature Cedar Chest
A simple design featuring rich looking hardwoods.
SHOP OWNER: David Yoho
LOCATION: Mechanicsville, VA
Recently, a friend asked if I could make a miniature Lane cedar chest. It was to be a birthday present for her father and needed to be ready in a short time frame. Having just completed another project for her, I started by looking at a Lane chest we owned as well as those pictured on the Lane Furniture Website. My intention was not to copy any of the chests, but use them for design ideas. Since I had never done any type of small box making or miniature work before, this was a new challenge for me. One main concern I had was my limited selection of small profile router bits and not having enough time to order any. I decided to work with what I had and get started.
The overall dimensions of the chest are 9" wide, 4 1/2" deep, and 4 3/8" tall. The chest and the base molding is mahogany, the top is lacewood and the corner keys are purpleheart. The mahogany stock for the chest sides and bottom is ½" thick. I glued the four mitered sides with the help of painter's masking tape. I cut a length of the masking tape and arranged the chest sides in order end to end. A piece of MDF clamped to my bench acted as a reference point when aligning the edges of the four sides. After applying glue to all the miters, I stood the whole thing up on the flat surface of my workbench and folded them all together. The tape acted as a clamp and held the pieces until the glue could dry.
The bottom has a 3/8" deep rabbet around it so only 1/8" of it shows around the bottom at the rear. I cut the rabbet width just a wee bit more than the thickness of the sides to allow for some wood movement. Since mahogany is fairly stable, I wasn't too concerned with the bottom expanding much and pushing the mitered corners apart.
To cut the kerfs in the chest corners, I used my Delta Tennoning Jig. Once the jig was adjusted to hold the case at a 45-degree angle and the blade height was set, cutting the "corner key" kerfs was easy. I cut some pieces of purpleheart to fit snugly into the kerfs and glued them in. Once the glue had time to dry, I used my Veritas flush trim saw to cut off the excess.
The lacewood top has ½" strips mitered on the front and ends to hide the end grain. Since the lacewood was a little thicker than ½", a small cove profile was cut on the top and bottom edges to give it a lighter appearance. It is attached to the chest with some small brass 90-degree stop hinges I found at Woodcraft.
The finish is Watco Danish Oil rubbed in with 320 and 600 grit wet/dry papers. After several days of drying time, I applied some paste wax and gave it a good buffing. To give the inside a cedar scent without the cedar lining, I applied two coats of Oil of Cedar.
The one thing I would do different if I were to build another one of these would be to use ¼" thick stock for the base molding. Although my friend was very happy with the chest, I think the ½" thickness I used makes the base look a little too heavy.. . . David Yoho
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