What is the best wood for a Hope Chest?

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Guy in Paradise

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Guy Belleman
I have seen quite a few Hope Chests made out of a wide variety of woods, but wonder just what should I use to make the ones for my three daughters.

I see quite a few folks making the chests out of cedar. That wood just seems a little soft for a long lasting chest that may have to endure many moves. My wife's chest is made of maple and lined with cedar. Her chest sits at the foot of the bed and is mostly a seat or stuff stacker. Of course, it is full, so she either needs a second one, or a bigger one. And earlier in its life, one of the kids enjoyed running their cars up and down the top, or pound on it, so it has a few "antiquing" dings. Quite a few of the older chests I look at, I see that the top has split or has taken a real beating. It would be nice make a chest that can stand the test of time.

I am not sure that cedar is still a requirement for hope chests. Any opinions on that would be welcome.

Seems like the woodworking magazines have a design for a chest every other month, but tend to use tenon panel framework for the sides, which I am not a fan of for this particular project. Ever since I brought home some dovetail joint work, all of the women in my family seem to want it, not realizing I can do it, but am a little slow at cutting those. I find that as time passes, and my eye glass prescription gets more extreme, dovetail joints become more difficult as well.

Appreciate any thoughts the experts might have. Thank-you.
 

petebucy4638

Pete
Corporate Member
I have seen quite a few Hope Chests made out of a wide variety of woods, but wonder just what should I use to make the ones for my three daughters.

I see quite a few folks making the chests out of cedar. That wood just seems a little soft for a long lasting chest that may have to endure many moves. My wife's chest is made of maple and lined with cedar. Her chest sits at the foot of the bed and is mostly a seat or stuff stacker. Of course, it is full, so she either needs a second one, or a bigger one. And earlier in its life, one of the kids enjoyed running their cars up and down the top, or pound on it, so it has a few "antiquing" dings. Quite a few of the older chests I look at, I see that the top has split or has taken a real beating. It would be nice make a chest that can stand the test of time.

I am not sure that cedar is still a requirement for hope chests. Any opinions on that would be welcome.

Seems like the woodworking magazines have a design for a chest every other month, but tend to use tenon panel framework for the sides, which I am not a fan of for this particular project. Ever since I brought home some dovetail joint work, all of the women in my family seem to want it, not realizing I can do it, but am a little slow at cutting those. I find that as time passes, and my eye glass prescription gets more extreme, dovetail joints become more difficult as well.

Appreciate any thoughts the experts might have. Thank-you.

Maple is very traditional, so is mahogany and walnut. I think that you will find that hope chests, like most furniture from years ago, were very dependent on the species were available locally.

Cedar lined chests still exist, but they don't seem to be all that popular today. In their day they were great at keeping moths out of wool clothing. That still might be an issue in some parts of the country. As a kid, I never liked the aroma of aromatic cedar that permeated the blankets that came out of that chest.

I would think that any furniture grade hardwood would be suitable. It's the craftsmanship that goes into it that makes the difference.

Pete
 

NCPete

New User
Pete Davio
Guy, will you be painting the chests? if so, soft maple would be a great choice for durability and economy. When I get time in the shop again, I will be making toy boxes/hope chests for the kids from the surplus of soft maple I have.
 

JimmyC

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Jimmy
The actual tern "hope chest" was coined by Lane furniture after WWII. Chests have been made for years and older ones are now referred to as hope chests. They were to be purchased by homecoming GI's for their brides to be, kind, instead of an engagement ring, and were filled up with linens and China and other items during the courtship, to be used after they were married. At least that's what I had read previously, so don't shoot the messenger :gar-La;. Almost all of Lane"s hope chests were originally cedar, because of the linens. I personally prefer simple looking Cherry chests with a cedar lining, but as I say, it's a preference.

Good luck,
 

ChuckC

New User
Chuck
I had the same issues as you when I wanted to make one for my daughter this past Christmas. This is what I came up with... made out of oak with simple joinery.
family_136.jpg


I lined the bottom with cedar. Hope this helps. :eek:ccasion1
 
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