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Heirloom Blanket Chests For My Children

author-gravatar Squeazle Oct 22, 2018

Well, it only took two years, off and on, to get these completed but I hope it's been well worth it. These are two blanket chests that I made for my son and my daughter. The design is the same but they're of different wood combinations. Each is inlaid with their names and birth dates. Japanese is part of their heritage and we want them to be proud of that too, so I included the Japanese translation of their names as well. I hope something I made them will last them for the rest of their lives and then some. For now they'll serve as toy boxes and get banged up a bit but I imagine I'll take them back in 20 years or so, refinish them, and give them back to put in their homes. 

Final shots first, of course. 

Even better then when your parents used to inscribe your name in your underwear for summer camp!

It all started with veneer for the panels that I purchased online. The gentleman over the phone helped me pick out what I needed and sent me links to look at the pieces before I purchased them; figured maple, figured cherry, and their unfigured counterparts for the inside. 

All panels prepped a bit over size and scuff sanded.

Holdfasts sure come in handy when you were only born with two hands. 

My first veneered panel ever is in the bag! I built a vacuum pump from scratch just for this project using plans online. (links provided if you want) I love making my own tools and always start out thinking it will be cheaper. This? Not so much. Right as i was finishing, I saw one on sale for less than I'd spent in parts. Live and learn.  

Letting him help in the making of his own heirloom.

Whew! 16 panels all veneered and rough cut on the bandsaw.

Faring those final curves by hand always feels great.

Getting all the panels pre-finished with Tung Oil then Shellac before getting down to the carcasses.

So purty!

All the carcass parts milled up. Felt pretty good about myself until...

Stupidity should be painful. Some idiot forgot to include the length of the tenons when milling out my stock. 

Whelp, time to break out the router and a jig 'cuz it's floating tenon time!

and a lot of work later, the first dry fit of the carcasses. 

Somewhere in this time is when I got my CNC and built its cabinet. One of the great uses of a CNC is making templates to be used on the router table. Some double-sided carpet tape holds it snuggly in place.  

Hurray for perfect uniformity!

 I worried about the shaping of this center stile where it butts into a curve on the upper rail. I had some Rube Goldberg type contraption planned to copy this asymmetric curve to the end grain. Eventually I got sick of the mental gymnastics and just decided to trace the curve and carefully sand to the line with a belt sander. I ended up with an air-tight joint. Lesson: Be more confidant in your abilities. 

How the whole front panel goes together. 

Working on our respective projects on a beautiful weekend morning.

How I sand the curves on the legs and rails. 

Finally getting the panels fit into their frames.

The curves on dem legs!

I couldn't find a lock escutcheon for the front of the chest that I liked the look of so I figured I'd give making my own on the CNC a go. 

Some Dremel polishing later, that'll do, pig. 

This brass bar stock will become a set of rails inside the chests for a sliding till that will be added later. I found the brass in a funky, old hardware store that's over 130 years old. It was way back on a shelf, covered in dust and you can tell by the patina that it had been there a day or two. These later got polished up before installing. 

Pre-finishing before assembly. Please don't rain, please don't rain, please don't rain...

A quick sneak close-up of the assembled product. On to the lids!

After seeing Jameel Abraham's veneer work on Chris Schwarz' traveling anarchist's tool chest, I really wanted to make my own banding and here I found my chance. The center is Macassar Ebony, bordered by holly veneer and black dyed veneer. 

and it will go in here. A test cut in MDF  using the CNC to make sure all my tolerances were perfect. 

A minute or two of shaving, tweaking, scraping, and fried nerves later...

Not terrible...

The lettering is filled with dyed epoxy and scraped flat. I had wanted a wood inlay but tests always had this coming out cleaner and crisper. I really like it. Be sure to seal the wood before pouring epoxy, it will bleed!

And all put together. They're missing the tills but I'm at the stage of this project that I. Am. Over. It. I'll give them to the kids, get a project or two done, then build the tills. 

My little goofballs immediately jumped into them. Aww, how adorable, tiny little, um, coffins, I guess? Whatever, they'e stoked. 

I swear we never taught him that. Must be in the genes. Thanks for looking!

1 comment

WOW!!! Incredible work! These chests look fantastic for sure! 

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