Cora's Treasure Trunk

This chest features a coopered lid and frame and panel construction.

SHOP OWNER: George Dart
LOCATION: Havertown, PA

    This started out to be a plywood toy box for my newest granddaughter, Cora Joy. The idea morphed to become her Treasure Chest. I bought the red oak from Malcolm Timbers. My #2 son Ed and his wife wanted it to be a special box and let me work out the details. I decided to use frames with raised panels in the front and sides of the box. I box-jointed the frames together using a jig on the table saw and a Freud dado blade. Before constructing the trunk itself, I needed to make the top and capture the dimensions.
Cora's Treasure Trunk

    The coopered top is comprised of four boards beveled at 22-1/2° along one edge, and a fifth, central board, beveled to 22-1/2° along both edges. I used biscuits, cauls and clamps for the glue-up of the curved lid. When that sub-assembly was intact, I ran both edges through the table saw set at 45°. I also ran the slightly longer front and rear frame rails at 45°, and box-jointed them to the two end frame pieces. The ends of the lid hide the end grain of the coopered top. I used a combination of hand planes, scrapers and spoke shaves to round the top of the lid. The final dimensions are slightly more than 37-1/2 inches long, 15-1/2 inches front to back, and 18 inches from the floor to the top of the curved lid.
Cora's Treasure Trunk

    I decided to make a separate stand for the chest to rest within, and this added visual appeal. I ordered all of the hardware from Lee Valley. I mortised the lifts for the lid into the lid face frame. Locating the lifting hardware on each side was a problem. The raised panel construction prevented me from using any surface except the top rail of the panel ends. I couldn’t use the leather straps I ordered for this application because the mounting hardware exceeded the width of the top rail. As an alternative, I had to use the handles shown, which in my opinion, were very expensive and not nearly as attractive or traditional as the leather straps. I used a piano hinge, strapped across the back of the chest, to mate the lid with the trunk. I asked my little grandson, Luke, to test the spring loaded lid supports. These are very effective in keeping the lid from slamming down on tiny fingers.
    The interior finish is amber shellac over-coated with water-based poly. The exterior of the trunk is finished with ZAR oil-based cherry stain, a coat of SealCoat, and topped off with several layers of satin poly, rubbed out with steel wool and paste wax.

. . . George Dart



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Springtown, PA 18081