Salesman’s Sugar Chest


The first time I made the trek to MESDA (Museum of Southern Decorative Arts) was when I was to help choose projects for an upcoming book on Southern Furniture. As we thumbed through the many, many filing cabinets looking at documented pieces, I was awestruck by a Kentucky sugar chest. I knew at that moment that I would build the piece someday.

(Fig. 1) Shown here is a photocopy of the information pulled from the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts archives.

During the next few years, I built several  similar sugar chests and cellarettes, it’s more coastal cousin. I built a couple of chests for customers, one for a DVD and article and one for myself. I didn’t need another.  As we tossed about ideas for 360 Woodworking hands-on classes, however, I immediately thought of the Kentucky chest. (Fig. 1)

When we decided to use the project as an article, I needed to do something different. A decision was made to build the sugar chest as a miniature – some might say it’s a salesman sample. Because the building process was the same (save a few areas that I’ll point out), anyone tackling this project full size would also benefit.

A Different Start

Most times I begin building furniture with the base. This time, however, the box of this piece is so much more important, and time consuming, that I decided to begin there.

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