Not so long ago, obtaining sugar wasn’t easy. It’s difficult to believe that the commodity we have in almost everything today was scarce and highly valued in the early part of the 19th century.
During those days well-to-do patrons required somewhere to store this sweet under lock and key. Why did sugar have to be locked away? It was so valuable that hired help could be tempted to pinch a bit here and there.
So local cabinetmakers rose to the occasion and the result was a specialized piece of furniture , the sugar chest. This type of chest was built throughout the South , most notably in central Kentucky and middle Tennessee.
An increased availability of sugar, along with a decline in price, reduced the need to safeguard the commodity. The demise of the distinctive design was imminent. By the late 1840s these chests were no longer regularly built.
Although the sugar chest’s prominence was short-lived, the lessons encountered in constructing this form will go a long way toward increasing your skills , and besides, it’s a great little chest for storing blankets and whatnot.
Complete plans and construction information will be featured in the June 2007 issue of Popular Woodworking, which will ship to subscribers in early April. That should give you enough time to practice a few dovetails to get ready for it.