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With Carolina and Lauren off the list, I now have a bit of time to go before my next build. My niece Katie – Lauren’s younger sister – turns 15 this year, so I have some time to think about wood choice, design elements and final construction details. My youngest niece Nicole is just 10 now, so I have lots of time to perfect many techniques for her hope chest. Who knows? Maybe at that time, I will have amassed enough woodworking know-how and skill to try some hand-cut dovetails, or to find a unique construction technique that makes hers something to behold.

Something to aspire to…

Another concern my wife brought up to me is, gosh, since I’m doing these nice things for my nieces, aren’t the nephews going to be a little jealous? You know, I had never thought about that. I mean – Brian, Tyler, Seth, Michael, Mitchell, Braden and Tanner have brought me as much joy as my nieces. I guess it’s time to get to the drawing board to to figure out what’s in store for those young gentlemen.

Woodworking Project Ideas – My Process

As with the hope chests, I’m going to start doing my homework so I can build some projects for the guys. My initial thought is to build a dresser top valet for each of them. You know, someplace where they can stash their keys, wallet, cell phone and other goodies they have to carry around with them. I will be looking for designs that allow for power cords to be strung unobtrusively through the case itself, so as to not make a big mess of tangled electronic spaghetti.

Bless this mess

I will be looking through past editions of Popular Woodworking and other magazines, checking out other blogs to see if the authors came up with any good ideas and looking at professionally-designed plans to see what is already out there. When looking at various plans I try to determine if they can work for me right off the bat, or if I have to adjust the plans to suit my needs.

Is this board good enough?

I will also be keeping my eyes peeled for some choice woods to use. Something with an eye-catching grain, rich color or other distinguishing characteristic. Maybe even something historic… like, say, wood harvested from an important place in American history, or from the New Jersey boardwalks. You know, something with some character that the boys can tell their friends or future wives. “Yeah, my Uncle Tom built that for me with wood that was originally in the White House.”

Hey, a woodworker can dream, can’t he? I always start the above process for woodworking project ideas well in advance – 12 months or more is typical. That allows me not only to draft a better plan, but also to daydream about where all my plans are headed.

Maybe even one day I will hold a grandson or granddaughter of my own. Then, will my shop ever be busy!

Until then, the hope chest projects have given me a real sense of purpose. They have required me to think about my methods of case construction, and how they suit the purpose of aesthetics or shipping arrangements. They have made me think about wood choices and the story they can tell in the project.

And, they have made me stop and think about what my woodworking will look like 20, 50 or 100 years from now, and what those projects are going to mean for future generations.

Tom Iovino

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  • thekiltedwoodworker

    Great post, Tom.

    Some wood ideas for you to mull over:

    Reclaimed chestnut
    Ancient Kauri wood
    Wood from the bottom of one of the Great Lakes
    Reclaimed mahogany from South America (


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