Hope Chest help…

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    Hi all,

    Am looking at my next project being a hope chest of some sort. Frame and panel most likely as that is not something I have really done before on a larger size project.

    I have a plan in a book that is reasonably similar dimensions to those that I would want but the design for how the base fits is not very good I don’t think.

    They suggest / design that along side the grooves run for the panels that same size grooves are run along the bottom pieces of the frame so that a piece of 1/4 inch ply could be slid in as a base??

    I dont think this sounds strong enough? or rather that it wouldn’t look all that great when you open the thing if i was ever to repeat the design to sell it?

    It would be lifted off the ground by the legs so a plinth over a pin and glue job wouldn’t be an option.

    was wondering if anyone had any thoughts etc..


    Martyn Chick

    Timothy Corcoran

    1/4 inch ply would suffice depending on the dimensions of the chest and what you are storing in it. The grooves in the base should offer it plenty of support and rigidity. Plywood is usually suggested for certain components in a cabinet for its stability,lightweight and strength. Veneer plywoods are available in a variety of species if aesthetics are of concern. I would recommend that if you were going with plywood, not to plow the grooves until you have the piece of plywood on hand to measure thickness. As any great amount of play between the plywood and the groove will compromise integrity. If it gives you more peace of mind, you could go with 1/2″ solid wood if your base height allows for the added thickness. You could achieve width by laminating. Alternating growth rings to minimize cupping.


    Could you not laminate 2 pieces of 1/4 veneered ply together so both the veneerd sides face out, that way you get 1/2 thickness and still retain the look??? Either way I do agree with the above post and not plough the groves until you have the ply.

    Just to clarify I have never tried laminating veneerd ply its just thought it might be an option.


    Timothy Corcoran

    The underside of the plywood I would consider as secondary. To laminate two Pieces of 1/4 would be more costly. I would move up to 1/2″ plywood or solid wood. Aesthetics of the underside of the plywood should be a non-issue. Use of secondary wood in cabinet construction is common practice.

    George Bridgeman

    Hi Martyn,

    If you’re not keen on using ply, go for 3/8″ or 1/2″ thick solid wood. If you go for 1/2″, you can rebate the edges and slide it into a groove in the sides, front, and optionally back. Instead of putting a groove in the back, you can make the back shorter than the front, having it only extend down to the top of the groove in the front. Then you can use brads to secure the base to the bottom of the back board. Hope that makes sense – it’s quite hard to explain.

    I wouldn’t be too concerned about using ply though. You won’t see the edges and most ply has at least one good face – you can pay extra to get two good faces.

    This DVD by Peter Follansbee will answer all your questions about building a frame and panel chest. You don’t have to do exactly as he does and split logs to get the components, but the techniques are well worth the price and you can of course use regular kiln dried timber:
    new DVD this month, making a joined chest


    "To know and not do is to not know"


    Hi all,

    Thanks so much for the replies, It seems I have my e-mail alert turned off so didn’t see the replies.

    All good options and I think I will go with ply but will certainly buy it before ploughing the grooves.

    Only only I have ever bought has been exterior grade from B&Q and has looked awful but fit for purpose at the time so maybe I’m visualising that and thinking it would be awful when it actual fact it’s a perfectly useable option for a base.

    Thanks for the support.


    David Gill

    Hi Martyn
    If you are looking for a good quality plywood have a look at the Baltic Birch, it is knot and defect free, Would have to go to a timber yard i have not seen it at B&Q

    Wigan, Lancs. England :

    Paul Sellers

    I am with david on the Baltic Birch and 1/2″ is really nice and solid feeling if the extra weight is not an issue. Also, are you settles on ploughing the sides and ends of the box. I have used two methods in addition to ploughing the sides. The first one is to use a 5/8″ by 5/8″ strip around the inside of the box to form a planted support for the panel. The fitted plywood can be dead tight, fitted square and held in place with moulded stock such as quadrant. The advantage of this is that the box is held rigidly square by the plywood. Method two is to plough some 3/4″ or 7/8″ stock with a 3/8″ deep groove and rip the strip from the main body of wood. Chamfer the top side of one corner with the smoothing plane to an appropriate size. Mitre the internal corners and screw this to the inside lower section of the box box. Do the same to the other internal faces. Take the box apart, insert the plywood panel and then test fit as needed before gluing. Just trying to get everyone to think inside the box.


    Thanks for the suggestion David, I will go for some Baltic Birch.

    And Paul, I’m not set on ploughing the sides and and ends at all, Was just how I had seen the base set on the plans that I was following for dimensions. They certainly don’t seem the best for any method and I will be supplementing most of that for what I have learnt here (handily the Frame and panel masterclass episodes for the tool chest have come at exactly the right time! thanks).

    I particularly like the idea of the planted support. A strong option that would also be a chance to practice making mouldings and quadrants.

    Thanks for the advice.




    Just trying to get everyone to think inside the box


    Robin ... Richmond, Virginia, USA


    haha yes I almost didn’t see that !

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