Rebirth and Wood Choices

Picking up a project after it has sat for a few years is an interesting exercise. There is the opportunity to re-create the thought process you originally went through and re-evaluate the decisions you made. Perhaps a good test of a design is if you end up with the same design after going through this evaluation. Perhaps refinements will make it an even better design. I immersed myself in all of my original sketches and sketched a few more ideas. It was time to commit. This is the hardest part for me. When the design is still on paper it is easy to play with different designs, different sizes, proportions and details. Precious wood is still in the rack with all of it’s latent beauty.  Possibilities are limitless. Once you commit and start cutting the end result is in your hands.

I am making a few changes to Hannah’s hope chest. Somehow I had managed to use some of the original walnut on other projects,. and there is precious little left for the hope chest. However, due to my insatiable need to collect wood, the year before I had found some beautiful 2″ thick slabs of  claro walnut which is commonly a California Walnut root with a graft of English Walnut. The wood is streaked with dark brown and purple hues. I was worried about the match with the madrone so I dug through the flitch and hand-planed several test areas. Sweet! Quilted figure was present in many areas and there was a variety of golden brown and darker bands of color. I oiled some sample areas and matched it to the oiled walnut. I think it will be good. Since it is flitch cut, I am

now planing on bookmatching the panel sections. I may not raise the panels but have a more contemporary look with flat panels. I can raise them later if it is needed. I like the beaded detail around the panels. I will use slightly flared legs as I think it adds a lightness or lift to the chest and fits with my daughter’s dancing interests. I think I have procrastinated in the design phase long enough. I will finalize some dimensions and get to work. Stay tuned.


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  1. David Jeske

    The madrone changes quite a bit from one area of the board to the next. When I get it planed and cleaned up it will be fun to choose where to use the different pieces. One problem will be there will be no second chances. As far as drawings go, I will have to see how it comes out! I do not have any real drawings of it yet.

  2. Dave

    Looks like beautifully figured wood –looking forward to seeing this project progress. Will you be able to post plans/drawings so we can try to build this ourselves? I have been looking for a great set of chest plans.


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