Wormy Sycamore Blanket Chest


Yet another Shaker-style blanket chest. Am I getting into a rut here?

OK. I'll admit it. I enjoy making these things and every time I do I seem to learn a little more. This one is the first I've made that has a lock and a lidded till, both of which were common in the real thing. This is also the largest blanket chest I've made so far at over 41-inches long and 29-inches high. Heavy too, given the ¾-inch wormy sycamore it was made of. The only non-sycamore structure is the aromatic cedar bottom in the chest portion and walnut pulls and dowels.

The chest has an 8-inch drawer spanning the full width which is entirely of ¾ and ½-inch sycamore except for pulls and pegging dowels. It is constructed with blind dovetails front and rear with a floating solid-wood bottom.


The till is about 6-inches deep and 7-inches wide and has a lid of quartersawn wood. The lid rotates on dowel pins and the till bottom and side are supported by ¼-inch tongues fitting dadoes in the front, side, and rear of the chest. These components are cross-grain and are not glued so that wood movement will not cause problems later. A bead detail is repeated at the top and bottom of the till, the top one serving to hide the lid opening.

The entire chest is made with through dovetail joints and it rests on a similarly dovetailed plinth with elliptical cutouts forming the feet. The exterior is finished in boiled linseed oil and padded-on garnet shellac. The interior is sealed with blonde shellac with the exception of the aromatic cedar chest bottom. The "antique" iron butt hinges which the lid swings on are really modern hardware which were worked over with muriatic acid and gun blueing solution. Overall size in inches: 41½ X 21½ X 29¼.

The photograph at the head of this page was made by John Lucas as part of a project to document the East Tennessee Woodworker's Guild's participation in a gallery showing at Arrowmont School in 2002. The image was scanned from a print and does not do justice to the original image but, even in this diminished form, it is miles ahead of the original which was taken by me with an old and crude digital camera under bad conditions. The image is used with permission of the Guild.

All material on this web site copyright © 1999-2012 by John McGaw. This specifically includes images, words, ideas, concepts, colors, sounds, odors, shapes, obtuse angles, acute observations, and vague recollections.
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