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Saturday, November 6, 2010

Scrolled Cedar Chest

This particular project has been a long time in the making. I made it for a Christmas present for my seventeen year old daughter. I seen the plans for this chest over a year ago. I knew as soon as I laid eyes on the photo on the Wildwood Designs website that I wanted to build one of these for my daughter out of aromatic cedar. So I ordered the plans although I didn't even have a strip of firewood made out of cedar. Then I started looking for the cedar and grabbing up everything that I seen. Most of the wood that eventually got used for the chest came out of a man's barn. He said the wood had been in there for over fifty years.
So, because of the delicate nature of the scroll work, it is cut out of luan plywood. Besides that scroll work, everything else on this chest is made entirely of aromatic cedar. The scrollwork was then covered with polyurethane. Then the entire outside of the chest got a total of five coats of Johnson's paste wax and was hand buffed in between each coat. Of course the inside of the chest was left without finish so that the wonderful smell of aromatic cedar can be enjoyed.
To give you an idea of the magnitude of this project, there is a total of over ten hours of work, just in the scroll work alone. Also, several people that I spoke with assured me that this project would be a complete failure being made out of aromatic cedar. I was told that while constructing it, the delicate nature of this type of wood was going to split too bad. The general consensus was that the only way to get this job done was going to be to build the chest out of hardwood and line it with cedar. However, I knew for a fact that as many cedar chest I have seen that were built years and years ago, that I could get it done if I tried hard enough.
It turns out that there was some truth to what I was told about how easily aromatic cedar is made into useless firewood if you're not careful. During construction it is easy to split the wood using screws or any large nails. Another thing I learned was to carefully plan out how you cut your lumber. This wood has a lot of knots in it. Although those knots make for beautiful colors wherever they are placed, you have to be aware that it splits and breaks easiest the closer you get to those knots, you have to carefully be plan the placement of those knots in relation to where you place nails and joints.
So here is the scrolled cedar chest. It is finally done after over a year of making plans to build it. Personally, I am quite pleased at the results. If you'd like to build one of these yourself, the plans for it can be purchased here
Now I've got to start looking for more cedar. I know several other people I may build one of these for in the future. I can't wait for my daughter to see it Christmas morning. I hope she loves it as much as everyone else who has seen it has.

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