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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm building a chest for my oldest girl's 10th birthday...24 days and counting. :blink:

The chest will be 2x2x2ft. The sides and top/bottom all have to be a golden-color, but edged in black (walnut). I have oak, hemlock, poplar, and ash at my disposal.

I went down and started cutting and planing pieces to get ready. I started with hemlock because 1) we have a LOT of it, 2) there was a single large piece that could furnish most of the chest.

Halfway through planing the pieces, though, I began to have concerns. I like the hemlock because it is so easy to work with. But of course, that's because it's soft. As I ran my thumbnail across the freshly planed piece of wood, I began to wonder how long this wood would hold up.

I was planning on using shellac to finish it, and I know that will give it a tougher surface. But I'm wondering if I should forget the hemlock and use oak or ash instead. It'll take more machining on the outset, and more glued up boards since I don't have much that is very wide....but it'll certainly be durable.

Any recommendations based on past experience?
 

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I would use the oak myself. I would think the hemlock would be to soft to stand up to much abuse.
 
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Funny you say that... it's red oak. : ) it's what we have the most of.
Just poking a little fun. :icon_smile:

Honestly if you are lucky enough to have some wide hemlock especially if the grain is tight, I think an heirloom piece like a blanket chest would be a great way to use it. You still see a lot of them made out of pine. They are beat up a bit, but still pretty. Sometimes family things are better like that, they tell the story of their life and use. From the sound of your design the walnut would protect it where it's most vulnerable to damage.

But otherwise, I'd think the ash would look best. I'd like to see a picture of it when you're finished.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I actually do like the look of the hemlock...it has a very unubtrusive grain, and that's kind of what I'm looking for, and it has a nice golden color already. But since I'm trying to make something she'll have forever, I'm thinking the oak is the way to go.

It's unfortunate on two fronts...the oak that I have is not nearly as wide as the hemlock, so it'll mean more boards worked and then glued together. More WORK in other words. And while the oak is not wide, it's thick....just over 1". I was shooting for 1/2" thick walls with the oak, but my resawing skills aren't good enough to cut those boards exactly in half. So that either means planing them down, which wastes a lot, or shooting for a 1/2 board and having maybe 3/8 left over for some other project. That's not so bad, but again...more work.
 

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Here is a box I recently made out of white oak with a shellac finish to give you an idea what it would look like - this was finished with Zinnser seal coat and Johnson's paste wax. It ended up being a pretty nice golden color (with the exception of the sapwood in the lid).
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I was planning on using a "golden" shellac I have a can of. That should make sure it turns out golden/tan like I'm wanting.

The chest involved in this discussion is in this thread, btw.
 
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