How to build a cedar hope chest

How to build a cedar hope chest

There was a time when every young girl wanted a cedar hope chest. A hope chest held treasures like Grandma’s china set, linens, and other household items. These items would be needed when the young girl married and began a home of her own.

Nowadays, cedar hope chests are still a necessity in every girl’s life. Whether she grows up and gets married, or stays single, a young woman will still need to have a home of her own. And, she’ll still need common household items to furnish her home with.

Cedar hope chests can be purchased at most furniture stores. But, if you have a daughter, a granddaughter, or a favorite niece, you would like to give a special gift to, you can easily build them a chest that they will cherish for years to come. All you’ll need is some lumber, wood glue, a pair of brass hinges, cedar lining or boards, felt, wood screws, some basic tools, and these free, do it yourself plans.

Step One– First, you’ll need to build the base of the cedar hope chest. To do this, you’ll need four pieces of two by two wood; two for the length, and two for the width. Lay the piece out into a rectangle, and then use wood screws to secure the corners together. Then, measure and cut a board to cover the entire top of the base. Use additional wood screws to fasten this board onto the base.

Step Two– Decide how tall the sides of your cedar hope chest are going to be. Measure and cut two pieces for the front and two pieces for the sides. Starting with the front pieces, you can use a band saw to cut out a long, half-circle shape in the middle of the pieces, about two inches up from the bottom. Or, you can use a pencil to mark out your own fancy design on the wood. Do the same with the sidepieces, and then cut the half-circle, or your own design, out with a band saw.

Step Three– On the inside of each front and sidepiece of wood, lay a ruler at the top of the half-circle or design. Use a pencil to mark a straight line all the way across each piece of wood. These lines will give you a guide so you know where to attach the base of the hope chest. Line up the base to the lines on the front wood piece, and then use wood glue to secure them together. You’ll probably need to clamp the two pieces together until the glue dries. Repeat this process with the back and two sidepieces.

Step Four– While you’re waiting for the wood glue to dry, you’ll need to measure and cut a piece of wood for the top of the cedar hope chest.

Step Five– Before you proceed with following these free plans, you should sand and stain the cedar chest first. You’ll need to stain the outside, plus, both sides of the top. Use a good-quality stain, and follow the manufacturer’s directions on the container in order to achieve the best results. It would be a good idea to follow the coats of stain with a couple coats of clear finish. Allow the stain and clear finish to dry thoroughly before you move onto the next step.

Step Six– Line up the top of the cedar hope chest to the base, and then attach it by using a pair of brass hinges. Then, either use cedar wood and glue, or a thin cedar lining, to line the entire inside of the hope chest.

Finally, you can add a small key lock on the outside, along with handles on the sides, if you wish, to complete your new cedar hope chest.


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