Kathy's Cedar Chest

Featuring miniature hand-carved cabriole legs.

SHOP OWNER: George Dart
LOCATION: Havertown, PA

    I was inspired to build my wife a cedar chest after restoring one belonging to a client, and which had originally been her grandmother's chest. I thought it would be nice if my wife had something to bequeath future generations. I accessed the Lane Furniture Website and determined the rough dimensions. Kathy's Cedar Chest is 42.5 inches wide, 17.5 inches deep, and stands 24 inches off the floor. The carcass is 3/4" solid cedar, which I box-jointed with a modified dado sled on my table saw. The 7/8" lid and trim are of curly maple, supplied by Hearne Hardwoods in Oxford, PA. The lid is from three glued-up pieces of curly maple.
Kathy's Cedar Chest

    The interior sizing of the chest should be more than adequate for storing blankets and my wife's money collection. The chestís bottom is 3/8" plywood, dadoed into the carcass sides and ends. I lined the interior with 1/4" cedar, which I pinned. The inside of the top was also lined with ľ-inch cedar, framed, and pinned, but the maple was first sealed with water-based polyurethane.
Kathy's Cedar Chest

    We decided it should have a lift out tray. The bottom of the tray is a glue-up of re-sawn leftover stock, whereas the dividers are full width and feature finger holes to aid in tray removal. The hinges used are Brusso, and the lid supports are from Stanley, donated by #3 son. Note the 2005 penny in the top middle of the inside lid.
Kathy's Cedar Chest

    This was my first attempt at carving cabriole legs. I am indebted to William Duffield for his help and coaching. I did the legs from curly maple, although they do not appear to display any figure, and have a distinctly darker color. I decided to extend the molding from leg to leg between the knee blocks, and used a 5/8" router bit and rasp/files to blend everything together. I did the pads beneath the feet on my lathe and cut profiles of the cabriole shape on the bandsaw. The posts were done on the table saw. Layout was entirely done by my wife. Making the finger joints in cedar was no problem at all.
Kathy's Cedar Chest

    This is the finished product. The curly maple lid moved with moisture and that resulted in a 1/4" gap at one corner. My #3 son Ken shimmed the top so there was a maximum 1/8" gap between the carcass and lid at opposite corners. Then he scribed a line around the carcass top referencing on the lid. He applied blue tape to the line and power planed the carcass top to make it fit the slightly twisted lid exactly. I have since reconsidered my opinion of power planes!
    I was originally going to finish the chest with a combination of linseed oil and antique oil. I had applied several coats, but experienced problems with high humidity and drying. When it did eventually dry, I hand rubbed the finish with 4/0 steel wool and lemon oil with naphtha. On the resulting very smooth surface, I applied another three coats of semi-gloss oil based poly and naphtha, and rubbed it out. I applied Minwax dark finishing wax to the entire chest with 4/0 steel wool and buffed. It has a soft burnished glow, and the figure of the maple is becoming gradually more pronounced.

. . . George Dart

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P.O. Box 493
Springtown, PA 18081