How to Make a Cedar Chest

Rachel Hurt

Cedar chests are wonderful storage for blankets or clothes but they can be much more than that. A cedar chest can be a hope chest or a treasured family heirloom passed down from generation to generation. Think of a cedar chest as a wedding present or as a gift for a new baby.

Family memories can be made with every sandpaper stroke of a homemade cedar chest.


You can change the dimensions of the chest to any size you want just by buying different sized lumber.

  1. Purchase your lumber. The easiest and quickest way to build your chest is to purchase cedar decking and pre-cut, planed boards. You will need three 1 by 6 pieces of cedar decking that are 28 ½ inches long, eight 1 by 8s--four that are 16 ½ inches and four that are 30 inches, and two 1 by 10 pieces that are 31 inches long. You will also need to purchase two 1 by 2s that are 14 inches long.

  2. Assemble the bottom of your chest. Lay your three 1 by 6 pieces side by side. Glue them together and use clamps to hold them till they are dry. When dry, remove the clamps and make sure the boards are securely attached to each other.

  3. Make the sides of your chest. Glue two of the 16 ½ inch 1 by 8s together to make each end piece. The larger side pieces are made from gluing two of the 30-inch 1 by 8s together. Clamp each side after gluing and allow to dry completely.

  4. Unclamp each side and attach them to each other. Use a countersink drill bit to drill your holes. Attach the short sides to the edge of the long sides so that the short sides are on the outside. Make sure that your screw heads are recessed.

  5. Insert the base. The base should sit inside the box. Secure the base with six screws per short side. The screws should be about ½ an inch from the bottom of the chest.

  6. Make the lid by gluing the two long cedar boards remaining together. Clamp them and allow to dry completely.

  7. Attach the 14-inch long strips to the lid for support. Attach with four screws per strip an equal distance from the short sides of the lid. Attach the hinges to the back rim of the chest and the inside lid.

  8. Attach the chain to the inside of the lid and the side of the box. Use wood putty to cover the holes from the screw heads.

  9. Finish the chest in whatever manner you choose. Use different varieties of sandpaper to smooth the exterior of the chest. Dust the box off and apply the finish of your choice. Let it dry and it is ready to pack.