Mini Stepped Chest
Primary material: Butternut
Secondary material: Maple
Finish: Boiled linseed oil, shellac, bees wax
Dimensions: 24.5″(W), 26″(H), 12.5″ (D)
Price: $1,850.00 (SALE)
During a recent visit to my hardwood dealer, I saw a stack of shorter pieces of butternut being sold at a very attractive price. I had no project in mind for the pieces, but they were all four feet or shorter. After examining my bounty, I decided the stock was the perfect amount for a small chest of drawers. But I didn't just want to build a standard chest. I thought it would be interesting to do a graduated stepped-front so that going from bottom to top, each new tier of drawers would be set back by 5/8″.
After drawing up the initial design, I played around with how the dividers would work. I didn’t want the drawers to ride on the finished surface of the divider below, so I doubled up the dividers and used a unique locking sliding dovetail joint. In essence, the bottom pair of the divider slides into the case horizontally while the top pair slides down vertically to meet it. The two are then glued together, and thus the opposing sliding dovetails “lock” the joint together. Combined with the through dovetails in the sides, this makes for an extremely strong case. It also ensures that the drawers don’t ride on any exposed finished surface.
I really enjoyed working with the butternut, a locally-grown species. It shares a common grain pattern with black walnut, but is closer to oak in terms of its darkness. In fact, butternut is commonly called white walnut in many circles. This piece is currently for sale, priced at $1,850. This includes delivery within 60 miles of Boston, or this piece can be shipped for an additional $100.