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Thread: Cedar lined oak blanket chest

  1. #1

    Question Cedar lined oak blanket chest

    I plan to build an oak blanket chest for the foot of our bed in the style of our bedroom furniture and line the entire inside of the chest including the lid with 1/4" cedar. I have some questions as I plan the project. At this point I plan to glue up panels of cedar as I prefer the look of a solid piece over t&g sold at the box stores. Should I attach the cedar using brads or is it safe to simply glue it in place? I understand that it is not a good idea to apply a finish to wood exposed to the cedar. Does this mean I should leave the inside of the oak case (under the cedar) unfinished? Thanks for the help.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
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    Gerry

    Many years ago I built a tack trunk, horse rider gear, for my wife. The trunk was made of jatoba and wenge, and the lining was ship lapped spanish cedar. The cedar is not glued in place. It is installed with nice brass screws and has the ability to expand and contract with humidity.
    I did finish the inside jatoba and wenge surfaces of the trunk, but the cedar is bare.
    I found the eastern red cedar to be too aromatic, a nd that is why I used spanish cedar. The spanish cedar has a nice "spicy" aroma to it.
    "The first thing you need to know, will likely be the last thing you learn." (Unknown)

  3. #3
    Yes, anytime unlike woods are used in this fashion, its best to assume they don't move the same.

    Yes, brads will allow for movement.

    If you want to maintain the aromatics a periodic sanding will bring it back.

    I don't see an issue finishing the inside of the oak, although IMO its not necessary.
    Last edited by Robert Engel; 07-10-2019 at 9:24 AM.

  4. #4
    Thank you Mike and Robert. The reason I asked about finishing the inside of the oak are two conflicting concerns. I am of the understanding that if you finish one side of a board you should always finish the other to prevent warpage. On the other hand I have read that finish exposed to aromatic cedar will become soft and emit an unpleasant smell.

  5. #5
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    Gerry, I have seen pre-glued 2'x4' panels of 1/2" glued AR cedar for this purpose, at lumber stores, as well as thicker tongue and groove cedar for making closets. Might save you some work.

  6. #6
    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gerry Sadow View Post
    Thank you Mike and Robert. The reason I asked about finishing the inside of the oak are two conflicting concerns. I am of the understanding that if you finish one side of a board you should always finish the other to prevent warpage. On the other hand I have read that finish exposed to aromatic cedar will become soft and emit an unpleasant smell.
    Gerry
    I have not found the sentence, highlighted in red, to be true. At least not as far as I have personally experienced. I have a 75-80 year old Lane chest, that is finished inside and lined with cedar. It just kind of smells ,"old".
    The first portion of your paragraph is the accepted guidance for finish work.
    I have another tack trunk in the barn for some 20 years now, that is not finished inside and out though. Just on the outside. It was actually supposed to be a tool chest, but I messed up the bottom dado's, and now my wife uses it. It's still square and flat to this day, so I guess nothing is really etched in stone.
    "The first thing you need to know, will likely be the last thing you learn." (Unknown)

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Gerry Sadow View Post
    Thank you Mike and Robert. The reason I asked about finishing the inside of the oak are two conflicting concerns. I am of the understanding that if you finish one side of a board you should always finish the other to prevent warpage. On the other hand I have read that finish exposed to aromatic cedar will become soft and emit an unpleasant smell.
    My father made several cedar chests out of solid aromatic cedar. He applied finish on the out side surfaces directly on the cedar. I believe it was a lacquer based finish. 25 years later the finish is just fine not soft at all. I agee with letting your lining float. Attach the sides and ends riht near the top. The bottom panel will hide any gaps. You won't need to attach the bottom in place, gravity will do that.

  8. #8
    Join Date
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    Houston, TX
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    I made a solid cedar blanket chest. I was going to leave it unfinished but after two days in the house the cedar smell was so bad I had to take it back out in the shop and finish the the outside of it. I used several coats of shellac for the base coats then a lacquer top coat. The one thing about cedar where I live is that it moves a lot, the breadboard end on the top will be perfect during the summer, but as the humidity drops during the winter the ends will be about 1/4 too long.

  9. #9
    Everyone has been very helpful. As it stands, I will leave the oak unfinished on the inside and not obsess about it.

  10. #10
    I remember post WW2 magazines with full page cedar chest ads showing women carefully socking away socks and other
    "woolens" along with the family's copy of the Magna Charta !

  11. #11
    Dave, the plan is to line an oak chest with cedar, so the smell will be contained in the chest. As far as movement of the cedar I will make sure it has room to float to allow for changes in MC.

  12. #12
    Mel, here is an advertisement very similar to the one you remember https://www.ebay.com/itm/1941-Lane-C...-/362277284416
    Note the price of the ad on eBay is about 1/3 the price of the chest being advertised in 1941.

  13. #13
    Thanks !,Gerry. That's it! And I had forgotten that when the ads featured more than one woman they were all happier
    than the ads with just one woman ! Please consider a yearly contribution of $6 to access all features of the forum,it's
    a good one. And just like a good cedar chest all your contributed knowledge will be accessible and protected from moths !

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