Introduction: Sea Chest

Ok, lets clear one thing up, I'm not a Carpenter, never professed to be or had any leanings in this direction!

So when I asked my wife what see wanted for Christmas, she replied "an old Sea Chest, so that I can put it at the bottom of the bed". Great, T'interweb here we come! I asked the wife if she wanted to see the Sea Chest that I find on the T'interweb or have it as a surprise, "Oh, no" she replied "I want you to make it for me!". Now I am surprised, what on earth made her think I could do this? "Yes, it's got to look like a really old sea chest".

This is my way out, if it's old I can make it and if it's rickety, wobbles, not exactly square, all's good because it's OLD!

No! Life's not like that, as soon as she saw the reclaimed wood, all sanded down, ready to be cut to size "Ohhh, that's nice, I like it like that!" After explaining that I was going to paint it all manor of colours and then burn it and rub it down, then paint it again and rub that down again, she shot me down with "Oh, no don't do that!"

So, if I am going to build a Proper, Square, Solid Sea Chest, I may as well do it properly.

Back to the T'interweb and find out how to do it (sorry) "Old School" using modern tools but no glue, no nails, no screws!

This is the result.


I used a 2nd hand Router, a 2nd hand Chop Saw, 2nd hand chisels, reclaimed wood, Dowels (I bought them), an Electric Drill.

Step 1: Make a Plan, Cut Wood to Size, Make a Router Box

It seemed simple in my head but when it came to taking a Router to the ends of the wood, for the mortise and tenon joints, the plan came to a stumbling halt. It was one of those "How do I hold that, whilst using that, with two hands, to push that, to make that?" moments.

I came up with the idea to make a box that would hold the wood and make the router follow the right path. It turns out that this isn't a new idea, in fact it's a common idea!

As you can see by the plan, it evolved, sizes changed. One thing that didn't change was that Christmas was coming and I was doing this in my spare time and I didn't have a lot of that.

I drilled the holes that were to go through the Mortise without the Tenon in place, then pushed the Tenon in place and marked it, took it back out and drilled it 2mm short of my mark, so that when I hammered home the chamfered Dowel it would pull the Tenon into the Mortise, making a tight fit.

When all the Mortise and Tenon joints were made, I made sure that all fitted well and then disassembled it and Routered all the relevant edges to give a better, dare I say "Professional" look.

I then Routered all the Grooves for the Tongue and Groove boards to fit into, Top, Bottom and Sides.

Now to Refit it all back together, this time with Dowels in place and hammer them home.

Step 2: Stylised Floral Decorative Piece and Staining

I found an old Florette Escutcheon and added to my workload by deciding to make a Stylised Floral Decorative Piece for the Front Panel, the wood for this panel came out of my youngest Daughter's "Airing Cupboard".

I drilled, Routered, Filed and Sanded down the wood until it looked like a flower, then I did it again to make two layers of petals.

I coloured these pieces with four different Red Felt Tip Pens and then rounded off a dowel to make a stamen and a locking device to hold it all together. This was coloured black, also with a felt tip pen. I finished this off with, quietly now, my wife's clear, sparkly nail varnish!

As an aside, the Stylised Flower isn't as Red as it looks in the Photo's but I wasn't going to get a professional photographer in just to get the Red hue down.....

One of my Daughters, the middle one, help me to stain it, as I was really running out of time and one coat didn't quite look right, so two coats later and it was finished.

Step 3: Secret Things

I might as well tell you that I also made a secret drawer as well!

Secret no more because as soon as I and my eldest Grandson, carried it in and I told her about the "Secret" our neighbours came in and she told them straightaway!

Oh well, you can't win them all!