How not to make a Blanket Chest

Doodle Trunk detailI had made furniture before this chest, but not as a serious “Furniture Maker”. I had just gotten a wood shop space in the Jack London Square area of Oakland and my shop partner and I started creating pieces for an open studio we wanted to participate in that was coming up in 4 months. I wanted to make something grand! Something that would be a canvas for my signature doodle designs, so I came up with this trunk.

It took longer than I thought it would and it ran into some design problems!  Who knew that blanket chests had no lip on the back edge of the lid so you can install standard hinges? Hmm….  I also made what is probably a common error that starting furniture makers make, if they are self taught: solid wood, though wonderful stuff, is not always the best solution to every part of a piece.  Wood moves!!!! It was a fabulous learning experience.

After sketches, I drew up a full sized version of the trunk on 1/4″ MDF. I liked the look of a ceramic ginger jar with the curved sides, base on feet and overhanging top on a bit of straight neck.

The bottom of the trunk was made of 3/4″ maple plywood, every other wooden part was solid maple. After the bottom was cut it got a mitered frame with rounded over edges and got the feet attached. The feet were a long cove cut block of maple that was roughed out on the tablesaw that got curves cut out between the ends and are mitered at the corners. The curved part of the trunk was formed by first making corner blocks that are curved like the sides of the trunk and have a 45° angle cut into the outside corner. The horizontal boards were fit one on top of the last from the bottom, experimenting with what angle I needed for each new long edge. The edges were beveled with thence angled on a joiner. Each horizontal row would have the same angle. The corners were individually cut on the chop box. with each row using the same set up. In some cases I used finish screws to hold corners together, which later had the design applied over the filled holes.