A Blanket Chest Creation

I recently completed a blanket chest that I made on commission for a friend. It is made of unsteamed walnut and features a live edge front, which serves as the lift for the top. Most walnut goes through a steaming process during curing. This creates a uniform dark walnut color throughout the whole board, a feature that’s desired by the furniture industry. But that process robs the wood of its natural color and character. I was fortunate to have access to some walnut that had not been steamed. This wood, as the photos illustrate, has a lot of character in the grain, which is the principal feature in the attractiveness of this piece.

The front panels feature swirling grain that gives the chest a dramatic look. The top grain is also visible in this photo.

The “live edge” is the rough, natural edge of the board, uncut from its original shape. I left it on the front edge of the top to give the piece a natural, rustic look. The edge protrudes about an inch from the front of the chest and allows the lid to be raised by grasping the front of the lid.

The lid is attached with wrought iron strap hinges that fit the rustic character of this piece. The lid is held in position by a traditional method, a prop stick that fits into a notch cut into the underside of the lid.

The dramatic grain on the lid is visible in this image, which also displays the prop stick holding the lid in the open position

While the body of the chest is built of walnut, the bottom is unfinished cedar, which will allow the natural cedar oils to infuse the contents and help ward off attacks by moths. Cedar has long been used for moth-proofing in chests, drawers, and closets.

Another view of the chest, showing the strap hinges that attach the lid to the case

This is, in my opinion, one of the finest pieces I’ve ever built and I’m proud to have made it. I am sure it will be an heirloom in the family to which it will be going. Oh, and yes, I did sign the chest, on the underside of the bottom!

I don’t do many commissions. But I have some of this same walnut left from this project, and it is going to be used to make a baby cradle for my stepson and his wife, who are expecting in a few months.

Published by Norman Reid

I worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture for 27 years in the field of rural community and economic development. I retired a few years ago and have been devoting my time to photography and writing. I've been a semi-pro photographer for more than 25 years and sell my work on the Web. I live in rural Virginia not far from the Shenandoah Valley.

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