AW Extra 8/22/13 – Keepsake Trunk

Keepsake Trunk

As special as the treasures it will hold.

By Garrett Glaser

An old, and nearly disintegrated steamer trunk in my
grandfather’s basement held forgotten treasure—
letters, photos, and a hand-written recipe for figgy
pudding from my grandmother’s early life on a Kansas
farm during the depression. Not pirate’s gold, of course,
but treasure to me, nonetheless. So, when a gentleman
asked me to design and build a dozen keepsake trunks
for his twelve grandchildren, I leapt at the chance. “Who
knows what treasures will get stashed in these trunks?” I
thought.

The trunk’s rounded lid is made by gluing together
narrow strips with beveled edges (called “staves”). I
chose Luan (Philippine mahogany) for the strapping,
because it responds very well to hot-pipe bending, the
method I used to mold it to the arched top. I used the
tablesaw and bandsaw to cut the finger joints.

You’ll need only about 14 bd. ft. of 4/4 lumber to
build this trunk. Although it’s no crime to glue together
narrow boards, I think the trunk looks best when its sides
and ends are made from single, wide boards. As these
pieces are fairly short, it’s worthwhile to check out the #1
Common pile at the lumberyard. You may find beautiful
wide boards that were downgraded just because they
have a defect smack in the middle. Paying considerably
less per board foot is always nice, too.

 

Bevel the staves

The lid's beveled staves form a
faceted arch when they’re glued
together. (The facets disappear later,
when the top is rounded.) Cutting the
bevels is fussy, because even a 1/10