CHERRY BLANKET CHEST
Locally cut cherry adds a special touch.
SHOP OWNER: Robert Clough
LOCATION: Muskego, WI
I enjoy and admire Shaker furniture. Although Georgian/Federalist furniture is beautiful, all too often the ogee curves, the gold inlay, the extreme thinness of the legs leave me cold. I prefer less ornate designs. In other words, as Dewey said, form follows function. This brings us back to the Shakers, who practiced that long before Dewey said it.
Being rural, small town, and not wealthy rather than city and wealthy merchant, our 18th century ancestors had neither the time nor the patience to do more than make those furnishings necessary for living. Some of these pieces were made well enough to last. I was brought up among many of them – some being family pieces. I still have those pieces, except for the 1850’s Victorian set; and all are plain, simple, and well made.
At Pleasant Hill, KY, there is a miniature blanket chest. I don’t remember the size except that it is small. It’s probably smaller than the chest I have just finished. I have seen a picture of it recently but I don’t remember where. My memory of it provided the basic conception of a chest I wished to make for my Granddaughter.
The blanket chest is cherry, locally cut and sawn by my neighbor. I purchased several hundred board feet from him after it had dried. The choice to use this wood because it was local was deliberate. The basic box is 32”w x 16”d x 16”h and sits into a 4” tall base.
I did the major work with machine tools but I tried to use hand tools where easily possible, especially planing, as my bench and jointer planes were my Grandfather’s and date back to the late 1890’s. This means there is a (sentimental) connection to Marya from her Great Great Grandfather, George Ripley through her Grandfather to her.
I matched the boards as best I could, hand jointed, and carefully glued. The edging around the lid is glued along the front but held in place along the sides with sliding dovetails, glued only at the miter. The concave molding on the top of the base is hand made using a Stanley 45 and the top edging is hand planed. All of the edge joints are dovetailed, which are machined as I no longer have the physical dexterity to do so many by hand.
The lift out tray has half blind dovetails. The handles are of my design. Too many such trays have handles cut into the ends. My handles are designed to allow an easy grasp of the tray. I had hoped to not have to stain this chest. Unfortunately, because the wood is locally grown, I was forced to stain to match boards.. . . Robert Clough
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