Modern Rustic Cedar Chest

Victoria Kay Allison
by Victoria Kay Allison
3 Materials
6 Hours
I transformed an old, out-of-date cedar chest into a contemporary piece of furniture fit for the bedroom or entry way! This is an easy project utilizing wood lathe strips, stain, and new fabric.
The before and after! It all starts with a vision.
I picked up the chest from a local seller who had listed it for $40. I thought this was a great price for solid aromatic cedar and the sheer size of this thing. Where to start? Demo time. No regrets in the old, musty fabric smell going away forever. This chest must have been in storage somewhere for sometime.
There are some safety issues with the Lane Cedar Chest. I will fix those issues in the make-over. The lock will be removed and the the lid weight mitigated. It weighs in at 37 lbs! There are product recalls for the lock issue. Not sure about lid weight but it makes me uncomfortable thinking a child might pinch fingers or worse. So, I will fix it.
I removed the old fabric, lock, and decorative wood. I kept the main structure of the box in tact. The interior is lined with aromatic cedar. Very nice! This also adds the benefit of keeping moths at bay.
I stained lathe strips with a Minwax classic gray stain. The bottom trim and lid were stained with General Finishes Java gel stain. I protected the entire case with several coats of polyurethane.
The interior tray was removed so that I could instead install two gas pistons on each side. This helped reduce the lifting weight considerably. I could have used lid-stay torsion hinges instead in order to keep the tray. However, these are expensive (around $22 / hinge) and I would need like 6 to accommodate the inch-pound weight factor which was ridiculous.( you can find a helpful guide at Rockler Woodworking and Hardware for these types of hinges if you decide to go this route.) The lid weighs 37 lbs!
I had some extra aluminum angle in the shop from another project. I cut 4 pieces to size. This can be done on a miter saw with a metal blade or by hand with a metal hand saw. I sanded with a random orbit sander to create a "fuzzy" swirl pattern that looked cool instead of a mirror finish.
I found some chenille fabric at Joann's in the sale bin. I was able to redo the top for about $10.
I used pan head screws to attach the aluminum corners.
Polyurethane will help reduce dust sticking on the rough wood.
You can see the tray has been removed and the gas pistons on each side in place. I found these on Amazon for about $11 for 4.
On to the next project! Until next time...

Best, Victoria
Suggested materials:
  • Lathe strips   (Home Depot)
  • General Finishes Java gel stain   (Woodcraft)
  • Aluminum   (Home Depot)
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