How to Build a Wooden Decorative Chest

Free Woodworking Plans from Lee's Wood Projects

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This decorative chest could be used as a convenient place to store jewelry, keep sakes or other important trinkets. Its Mansard styled top gives it an interesting and unique look. The front latch allows for quick entry, and the decorative handle, not only compliments its appearance, but also provides for easy transportation. This project requires a minimum of equipment to make, and could be completed in just a couple of days. It would make a great personal keep-sake gift for that special girl in your life.

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Technical Information for Building a Wood Key Cabinet

A. Materials List:

1 A FRONT 3/8" X 5" X 10" Bubinga
1 B TOP 3/8" X 6" X 10" Bubinga
2 C SIDES 3/8" X 6" X 8" Bubinga
1 D BOTTOM 3/8" X 7 5/8" X 9 5/8" Bubinga
2 E SLOPED TOPS 3/8" X 1 7/16" X 8" Bubinga
1 F BACK 3/8" X 5" 10" Bubinga
1 G LATCH 1 1/4" X 2" BRASS
1 J LINER 12" X 48" FELT



B. Cutting Procedures:

  1. This project will require a 1/2" x 9" x 60" select Bubinga board.
  2. Joint one edge of the board
  3. Plane the board 3/8" thick.
  4. Use a table saw to rip the board 7 5/8" wide.
  5. Use power miter saw to cut 9 5/8" off the board for the bottom (D).
  6. Cut off two 10" lengths.
  7. Rip a 2" wide strip off each length for the two sloped tops (E).
  8. Rip the remainder of the 10" lengths to 5" widths for the front (A) and the back (F).
  9. Rip the remainder of the board 6" wide. Cut two pieces 8" long for the two sides (C). Cut the last piece 10" long for the top (B).
  10. Use a table saw to cut 3/16" x 3/8" dados in the bottom of front (A), back (F), and the two sides (C).
  11. Measure down 1" from the top edge of each side (C) and make a 45 degree angle cut at each top corner of the sides.
  12. Tilt the table saw blade to a 45 degree angle and cut the ends of the front (A), sides (C), and the back (F).
  13. Tilt the table saw blade to a 22 1/2 degree angle and cut left and right edges of the top (B). Also cut the inside edge of each sloped top (E).    

C. Sanding Procedures:

  1. Hand sand all parts with 80 grit sandpaper.
  2. Intermediate sand all parts by hand with 120 grit sandpaper.
  3. Finish sand all parts by hand with 220 grit sandpaper after the assembly procedure.
  4. Hand sand all edges, details, with 220 grit sandpaper.

D. Assembly Procedures

  1. Place wood glue on the mitered edges of the front (A), sides (C), and the back (F). Secure the pieces together with two 1" band clamps. Use a hand square to insure that the angles are perfectly square. Clean up excess glue and allow to dry over night.
  2. Place glue on the mitered edges of the top (B), sloped tops (E), and the top edges of the front (A,) sides (C) and back (F). Secure the pieces on the previously glued assembly with three 1" band clamps.
  3. Place glue on the dado joints of the front (A), sides (C), and the back (F). Place the bottom (D) in the joints and secure with 3/4" brads.
  4. After glue has dried, use a bench router with a 1/2" rounding over bit to round the side edges of the chest assembly.
  5. Use a 1 1/4" router bit to round the edges of the sloped tops (E).
  6. Set a fence 4" from the band saw blade and saw off the top of the chest assembly to provide a lid for the chest.
  7. Use disk sander or a wide belt sander to sand the cut edges of the box and lid.

E: Finish Procedures:

  1. Use plastic wood dough to fill all nail holes, cracks and imperfections
  2. Finish sand the chest with 220 grit sandpaper.
  3. If stain is desired, apply with a brush and allow to penetrate for 5-10 minutes, and then remove with a clean rag
  4. Allow stain to dry 6 hours and then repeat with a second coat
  5. Apply a clear finish coat such as Varathane, Polyurethane, lacquer, etc. using a bristle brush. Allow to dry 12 hours
  6. Lightly hand sand with 220 grit sandpaper
  7. Apply second coat of clear finish
  8. If additional finish coats are desired, repeat steps #5 & 6
  9. Allow to dry 24 hours
  10. Cut felt liner (J) and glue to the inside of the chest

NOTE:1. Be sure to match the color of the wood dough to the stain color.

2. Use a tack rag after each sanding procedure to remove the dust.

*Congratulations, your decorative chest is finished and ready to use!

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