"Pagoda" Jewelry Chest


This was a commissioned piece for a customer who had a large amount of jewelry and wanted a fairly large jewelry chest. She also wanted something distinctive and "one of a kind". I was very happy to oblige and Stephanie, the customer, was a delight to work with on this piece. We traded back and forth several designs and sketches and discussed the options. Once we settled on a basic design, we explored various wood combinations. In the end, Stephanie settled on a curly maple cabinet held in a cherry frame or stand. Stephanie was also extremely patient and understanding when some personal family responsibilities substantially delayed the delivery date. In the end she was very happy with the piece and said it was worth the wait. I'm also very proud of the piece and consider it one of the best I've done. It only stuck around in my dining room for a few days before I shipped it and I was more than a little sad to see it go.


The chest consists of a six drawer central cabinet that is nestled inside an outer frame. It was designed to sit on top of a bedroom chest of drawers. The central cabinet is made from some really nice curly maple and is joined with hand cut dovetails. It measures around 15" H by 12"W and 8" deep. The outer frame is made from cherry and is held together with pinned or wedged mortise and tenon joints. Overall the piece stands about 22" H by 14" W and 9" deep.

The drawer fronts are made from a single piece of tightly curled "fiddleback" maple. It may be hard to see in the photograph, but the drawer fronts are laid out so that the fiddleback pattern resembles a "herringbone" pattern. They're also chamfered along the edges which, if you look at it from a certain angle, gives the illusion of the front being slightly concave. The oval drawer pulls are hand carved from cocobolo.


The maple used for the cabinet carcase was really exceptional and I resisted the urge to stain it to bring out the figure even more. Instead I left the maple a naturally light color, which enhanced the color contrast with the cherry frame.  The piece is finished with super-blonde shellac for the maple and orange shellac on the cherry portions.

Because the piece was made to sit on a dresser with a mirror, Stephanie wanted the back to look nice, too. So I made the back with a cherry frame and a curly maple panel. No plywood here!

I think the most unusual design element of this chest was the top on the frame. It's screwed to the frame and has a curved surface, which makes it purely decorative. However, it's the key to the "pagoda" look of the piece. The top is made from a nice piece of cherry with a bit of curl to it. I also like the pattern of the grain that comes from the way the top is sculpted.


The drawers are all made with hand cut dovetails. I used plain maple for the drawer sides and bottoms and also for the drawer dividers in the cabinet. The drawers have a velvet lining on the bottom and dividers made from thin strips of curly maple.

For availability, prices, questions or comments, please email me carl@harvestwoodworks.com and I'll get back to you soon.