When is a box not a box?

One of the traditions I grew up with was that of receiving a hope chest on my 16th birthday.  It’s a tradition that hails back several centuries to the eras of dowries and bride prices.  Growing up, I heard stories of my grandmothers and great-grandmothers preparing items for their hope chests.  the chests contained linens, silverware, household goods, etc., everything a well-brought up young woman would need to start her own household.

My mother and aunts would share similar stories about what they put into their hope chests.  I remember waiting anxiously for my 16th birthday when I’d receive my very own hope chest to fill.

Nowadays, you say hope chest and very few people even know what it is.  It’s basically a trunk of sorts that holds items that the owner will someday use in their own home.  When I got mine, my mother included my first infant dress outfit and a baby blanket made for me by my blind 98-year old great-aunt.  I cherished those items then and cherish them even more now.  My own daughter wore the same outfit and used the same blanket.

This year, my sweet daughter turned 16.  The only gift she wanted was her hope chest. With a twist.  She wanted to build it herself.  I should probably explain that out of a household of 5 children, of which she is the only girl, she’s the one who inherited her father’s love of woodworking.  My sons only work wood if it’s on a chopping block and destined for the fireplaces.

So, for her birthday, my daughter and her dad built her hope chest. Keep in mind, she designed it and built it with just some guidance from her father.


She started out with pine for the outer box and lid. Then added some detailing pieces to hide the seams.



Then she lines the chest with cedar, added spring controlled hinges, and stained the whole chest in a medium oak finish.  A couple coats of varnish and her hope chest was complete.Image

The finished project.


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