Make Your Own Mule Chest or Long Chest Topper.

Sarah Brown
by Sarah Brown
20 Hours
I have a antique long chest and wanted a Amish built Mule chest (double dresser) but at 1,200-3,000 that wasn’t a very good option. So I built a 4’x4’ topper for my existing chest to convert it into a Mule chest.
Tools Used: Jigsaw,drill, miter saw, Screw drivers, hammer, Clamps, brad nails, glue, brass brackets, and hardware (knobs, pulls, hinges and drawer glides)
With enough time, determination and tools anything is possible. My Budget saver idea to a real Mule Chest.
Built from solid Pine, with some MDF and Plywood. I am a amature Carpenter.
I drew a lot of plans, some good and some bad, as to how to break up the storage. I needed drawers, cupboards and shelves. So I broke the plan up into quadrants with the 2 sections up top being cupboards, 1 bank of drawers and another of shelves that could be converted to drawers or cupboards in the future.
The frame was built using 3 pieces of solid pine 16x48” setting on top of a ½ “ plywood base (since the plywood would be low visibility and save money). Other dividers and shelves can be either solid or Plywood. I used solid wood for looks and strength. I used glue and screws to attack all wall pieces, because this can be separated and moved and screws are far stronger than nails
I didn’t own a router, so making dovetailed drawers was next to impossible. My option was to make them using a simple pattern I cut out with my jigsaw into the MDF. I used ½” MDF for the side rails, ¼” MDF for bottom. Solid Front.
When deciding on the measurements of the drawers take into account that you will need to leave space for the glides and the face and bottom plates so that the drawer meets flush with cabinet.
Further along you can see the general scheme. The upper area will be cabinets.
Craft trims as those used for making Doll houses, purchased at local Art supply store. I used these on the drawer fronts.
The cabinet doors: I decided on a framed door, making the frames from 1x2” pine and backing with ¼” plywood but the options are endless. Some might prefer solid wood doors. Just make sure you account for the hinges when building your doors, or else you might be cutting them down or remaking them to fit.
When I installed the shelves in the cabinets, I decided to use brass ¼” adjustable brackets so that I could later raise or lower shelves and only have to drill additional holes as my needs changed.
Adjustable shelves are the way to go in almost all instances. Cabinets, also are great for hiding clutter. This stores my Art supplies.
I decided that the chest needed more decoration and so I made a filigree trim from a 1x4” piece of pine and added the center embellishment.
clamping the filigree trim to the top of the cabinet took all four of my Irwin clamps to secure and make the wood glue bond.
Ironically the Sea turtle knobs and pulls I had purchased months before were the exact number needed when I finally built my chest. I opted for the knobs verses putting carvings on the doors, since I can swap out hardware should I tire of the theme later.
I am particular to my knob and pull choice, but it isn't for everyone.
finished topper. Now just to make the lower long dresser match with a bit of paint or stain.
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2 of 5 comments
  • Katie Katie on Mar 09, 2014
    Nicely done!

  • Jeannie Jeannie on Feb 27, 2017
    Wow! Storage is great. Love the finished product. You are very intuitive when looking at an 'old item' and seeing the possibilities. ☺