Steamer Trunk from Reclaimed Chestnut

When I started milling the lumber for this steamer trunk, I got side-tracked by a little table that seemed to jump out of the wood and demand to be built. (Read about the table here.) So, with the table done, I have been working on this trunk. I originally went in search of the chestnut specifically to build a trunk and a quilt rack (which can be seen here.)

Inside of the Trunk Top

Inside of the Trunk Top

The construction of the “curved” top is mostly an illusion — the grooved rails and panels sit on a set of curved ribs, but they are basically flat and join at a slight angle, which makes them appear to be curved. The end pieces are trimmed to a curved shape matching the rails, and the final shaping is done with a hand plane. The rails are attached to the ribs with screws which are countersunk and will get a contrasting plug. The ribs are tenoned into the side rails.

All of the stock for the trunk is resawn from reclaimed 2 x 6 and 2 x 8 lumber. The surfaces closer to the original surface have a bit darker color than the pieces cut from closer to the center. There are also holes, knots, cracks, etc. which have to be addressed. Some get filled or glued, but the idea is to preserve much of the patina the wood already possesses.

Trunk in Progress

Trunk in Progress

I will probably finish the inside with shellac and the outside with Tried and True varnish, which I have found looks really good on chestnut.

The bottom of the chest will be oak plywood, as will the bottom of the tray (which is still to be constructed.) I would guess it would be impossible to find chestnut plywood, since it is not easy to even find a little bit of chestnut lumber. The overall size of the trunk is about 17″ x 30″ x 16″ tall.

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