How We Build Your Cedar Chest
How to Build a Cedar Chest! Written and Visual Guide to Success!
Whether it is your curiosity or your love for woodworking that drives you to uncover the secret behind the craftsmanship of the cedar chest, prepare to be both amazed and satisfied!
If you’ve been wondering, how we build your cedar chest, enjoy the following step-by-step guide! First, we will walk through the building process of a cedar chest with written steps, then enjoy watching it for yourself by checking out our video showing you just how to make a cedar chest!
Let’s get started!
Our 10 Step Guide Building a Cedar Chest
1. Choose Your 1 Inch Cedar Boards
The first step begins with choosing your cedar wood. There are different kinds of cedar wood, however, we recommend aromatic red cedar. Once you have acquired quality cedar, your end goal is to fashion the cedar wood boards to a 3/4th inch thickness for the front, back, sides, bottom, and top of the chest. However, first, start with 1-inch-thick boards and you will work it down to 3/4th inches thick during the cedar chest making process.
2. Remove Any Imperfections
Once you have prepared your 1-inch-thick cedar boards, you are ready for step number 2. The future goal is to glue a panel of 3 pieces together. Ensuring the quality and character of your wood before gluing the pieces together is imperative for avoiding cosmetic defects down the road. Now is the time to make sure to cut off any imperfections like white edges, knots, cracks, or large white sections while you still have extra thickness to spare.
3. Glue the Panels Together
Now it is time to take the 3 pieces of stripped cedar and glue the edges of each board. After you glue the edges, clamp them together to allow for the glue to dry. You should give the drying glue at least 30 minutes to seal properly. You will need 6 panels, one each for the top, the bottom, the front, the back, and then both the sides.
4. Plane and Sand the Panels
Once you have your panels securely glued together, you can take them to a planer. Remember, you have a 1-inch-thick piece. However, you will run the panel through the planer 3 times. Plane one side, flip it over, and plane the other side.
Next, carefully examine the panels to see if there are any glue joints that are not completely smoothed over. Plane that side again, and you should end up with just over a 3/4th inch thickness. After you are done with the planer, take it to a wide belt sander. Sand the panel two times, one on either side. This action takes the thickness down to exactly a 3/4th inch thickness.
5. Assemble the Box
Once your 6 panels are planed and sanded, you are ready to begin assembling the box! Take the panels that you have cut and planed, then, starting with the front and back pieces, put a data joint at the end of each. The purpose of this joint is to fit the side pieces into that joint and put the box together. This joint will have glue and will also be secured together with nails.
Once you set the front, the back, and the two sides into their set joints, you will need to clamp it together for about 30 minutes to allow the glue to dry properly.
6. Add the Top and the Bottom
Now it is time to focus on the top and the bottom of the chest. You can take the panels that you have created for the top and the bottom of the chest and run them through the shaper. As they go through the shaper, put a profile on the front and the sides of these two pieces. The result should be that these two pieces are identical.
You can then mount the bottom to the box of the chest with nails that are put on from underneath. Once you put the top on, lid backs are put on to keep the lid flat. The lid backs help the top to remain flat over time and lay nicely on the chest.
7. Assemble the Legs
For step number 7, you are going to put the legs on the chest. First, you will begin by cutting 8 two-inch-wide pieces of cedar. Cut them to length and cut a profile on the edge of each piece. Next, you will put these corners together by cutting a 45-degree angle onto each end and nailing these two corners together.
Once you have a corner together, predrill two screws into the bottom of the chest, one on each leg, and fasten this corner piece into the bottom of the chest. Repeat this same process for all 4 corners and the legs are securely in place.
8. Sand and Finish
You are done with constructing the box! Now it is time to sand and to finish it. Using a polish sander, start off with 120-grit sandpaper. Sand on all four sides as well as the top again. Follow up with 150-grit sandpaper. After everything is sanded the second time with the 150 grit, you will want to carefully look over everything and make sure that there are no minor scratches or anything of that sort.
Once the box is examined carefully, take it over to the finisher. Next, spray the chest with a conversion varnish. Make sure you purchase a reliable conversion varnish to obtain a durable finish. Spray the varnish one time and then let the finish dry. Once it is dry, sand it by hand, and then coat it one more time with the varnish.
9. Add the Hardware
You have arrived at step number nine! This final step involves putting the hardware onto the chest. For a basic cedar chest, the hardware needed includes hinges and lid supporters. However, if you were hoping to add a lock to your chest, now would be the time to add one. You will put the hinges on by predrilling holes. There are three holes in the lid and three holes on the top of the chest.
Make sure to predrill those holes so that you do not have any cracking or splintering that occurs in the lid when you finally put the screws in. The same process goes with the lid supports. The lid supports are used to hold the lid open. If you are working inside the chest, you can lock the lid supports in place and keep the lid from closing shut. Once all the hardware is in place the chest is completed and ready to use!
10. Enjoy your Chest!
Enjoy! The final product is a very well-made, solid cedar chest! This cedar chest will last you for generations if properly taken care of. Well done, craftsman or craftswoman, you did it! Now you know the secret of how to build a cedar chest! So, if you decide to take on this intricate project of building a cedar chest on your own, may these instructions empower you every step of the way!
Watch the 10 Step Process of How We Build Your Cedar Chest!
If you are more of a visual learner, or if you appreciate both written and visual learning tools, enjoy watching the process of making a cedar chest! Watch the process in action, as Josh from Amish Handcrafted, walks you through all 10 steps on how to build a cedar chest!
Partner with Amish Handcrafted for Your Cedar Chest!
Perhaps your curiosity was met, yet you do not have the carpentry skills, or the tools, needed to complete the project of making a cedar chest.
No worries! Our skilled Amish craftsmen delight in building you a quality cedar chest worthy of being passed down to your children and grandchildren!
An intricate and gorgeous Amish cedar chest can be yours! Plus, you may not have built it yourself, but you sure know just how to build a cedar chest!