Full Chisel Blog

September 16, 2009

Seamstress Chest

Here is a pine chest that I made a couple of years ago, traded off a couple of months ago and finally got the right handles fixed to it today.  It is entirely hand made, all surfaces hand planed and scraped, the corners are dovetailed, although you can’t see them under the paint.  It is glued together with Hide Glue and some nails were used to fasten the top and bottom.

It is 11 1/2″ deep, 23 3/4″ long and 12 1/4″ high is made of pine and painted and grained to imitate mahogany.  It has gold striping, butterfly hinges on the back secured with clinched nails, an iron hasp secured with slotted iron screws and the lifting handles attached with clinch nails.


I first layed out the location and used a brad awl to make a hole without removing any wood.

I then pounded the nails through the handle and hole in the box.  I used the steel ‘anvil’ to deaden the blow when driving the nails home.

I then bent over the ends of the nails before I clinched them into the pine on the inside of the box.


This is how the iron lifting handles look from the outside.  The handles are from Van Dykes Restorers as are the nails.  The butterfly hinges and the hasp and padlock are also from Van Dykes.

A light coat of linseed oil and it will be ready to deliver this weekend.



  1. Gorgeous!!!

    I’ll take a simple, yet very well made, pine chest any day over its modern machine produced counterpart.

    THANKS for showing it to us. (Are you going to show us your return on the trade?)

    Comment by Bob Easton — September 17, 2009 @ 4:45 am

  2. That is a lovely box, and I am particularly interested in the grain-painting. Have you run into any good references for this sleeping art-form?

    Comment by Metalworker Mike — September 17, 2009 @ 5:24 am

  3. Bob,

    Thanks for your comments, it is a chest I built while I taught 3 young men how to make one themselves during a workshop. As for the trade, she put pockets in a couple pair of narrow fall trousers and repaired three linen shirts. I have a pair of linen trousers that need some attention. She is also going to make the cap I intend to japan and a shirt from some linen I will provide. She also got the button hole scissors.


    I am a fan of painted and grained finishes as you know. As for a good work there is one that is somewhat helpful called “The Art of the Painted Finish” by Isabel O’Brien, especially for stone. There is a bit of a description in “Legacy of Mormon Furniture” by Marilyn Conover Barker (I wrote the last chapter on graining) but there isn’t much out on the market, yet.

    I am working on a book tentatively called ‘Shellac, Linseed Oil & Paint’ that will describe traditional nineteenth century finishes with particular attention to the painted and grained finish. Then there is the Novel and the Book on Native American Indian Woodwork.


    Comment by Stephen Shepherd — September 17, 2009 @ 6:45 am

  4. Very fine trade. We know you are adept at getting good deals.

    Comment by Bob Easton — September 18, 2009 @ 7:20 am

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