Pennsylvania Blanket Chest


A masterpiece of design that’s sure to add to your woodworking ‘bucket list.’
By Glen D. Huey
Pages: 32-39

From the August 2009 issue #177
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Originally built as a six-board chest (four sides with a top and bottom), the design of the blanket chest has evolved throughout time to meet end-user expectations.

First, feet were added to bring the chest off the floor. Additionally, small items stored inside a blanket chest would be difficult to retrieve, so furniture makers added drawers – one, two or sometimes three below the main storage area.

Investigation of construction methods, finishes and wood choices uncover a multitude of differences. You’ll find chests that are nailed together, those that exhibit the finest dovetailed corners and examples that incorporate post-and-frame construction.

Finishes on antique blanket chests range from painted façades, to oil and wax, to surfaces that are stained and shellacked. The exterior finish is usually tied to the wood selection – or visa versa. Painted pieces were often built from pine or poplar and painted with a distinct “country” look – many of these chests are highly valued and collected. Blanket chests built with expensive hardwoods such as cherry and walnut were pieces that only the wealthy could afford.


From the August 2009 issue #177
Buy this issue now