What is a Hope Chest? It’s What You Make It

What is a hope chest? Tom Iovino answered the question by making a couple and giving them to his nieces.

What is a hope chest? Tom Iovino answered the question by making a couple and giving them to his nieces.

I am the proud father of two boys. These little guys – not too little anymore – have been the pride of my life since my wife and I first found out that we were expecting more than 16 years ago. It has been a wild ride watching them grow up through the years.

But there will always be that part of me that is a little jealous of the dads of daughters. They have the joy of daddy’s girls. They will have the pleasure of walking their daughters down the aisles at their weddings. And, they can push off “the talk” to their wives.

Instead of having daughters of my own, I am blessed to have four nieces who are growing into beautiful young women. All four are excelling in school, have big plans for their futures – and appreciate that their Uncle Tom is a woodworker.

That’s why I wanted to start a tradition that would help blend woodworking and my desire to be a part of these young ladies’ lives. For each of them, I want to build a hope chest for their sweet 16th birthdays.

What Are Hope Chests, Then and Now?

A hope chest is such an antiquated idea. Back in the old days, the girl’s father or grandfather would build a chest where she could store some special items for the day she married her future husband and moved out to join her new family. Maybe that chest would contain the blanket that kept her warm when she was just a little girl. A special keepsake that her grandmother wanted her to have.

OK, call me sappy, but I couldn’t resist doing this for my nieces.

Since I hope these projects are going to be pieces to last a lifetime – and maybe get passed down to a future generation – I wanted these to be timeless designs. They had to be built sturdily, so they could be moved several times and still hold together. They had to be an appropriate size, not requiring a forklift to move, yet not being too small to fit her prized possessions. In other words, they had to be the Goldilocks of chests – just right.

Tom Iovino


Thanks for kicking this off, Tom!

To the community:
Tom is publishing a series of posts on his hope chest projects. Stay tuned to “Woodworking Daily” over the next two weeks for the rest of the series!

Are you itching to get started on a hope chest of your own? Try starting with our recent magazine issue that featured a gorgeous blanket chest project.

Dan Farnbach

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About Tom Iovino

I've been a hobby woodworker since 1998, and I love to build furniture, small projects and the like. When I'm not woodworking, I am a Public Information Officer and disaster preparedness teacher, proud dad and husband and fairly decent home cook.

One thought on “What is a Hope Chest? It’s What You Make It

  1. Jimboz

    In the village where I was born they were known as ‘glory boxes’ for the ones who could afford it. The rest called it the bottom drawer. Look forward to seeing how the project goes.
    Jim

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