Jewelry Chest

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Corrections (errors appear on print version only)

  • The rail length given on page 39 should be 14", as correctly noted in the drawing on page 37.
  • The notch offset dimension on the Rail Mortising Jig drawing on page 38 should be 3/4", not the 13/16" shown.
  • The notch-to-notch distance for the Leg Mortising Jig drawing on page 38 should be 2-5/8", not 1-5/8" as indicated.


While studying woodworking in the early 1980’s at the John Makepiece School in England, I was taken by an open-sided chest of drawers at Makepiece’s home. Basically constructed of sticks connecting the four legs, with the drawers exposed, the piece’s delightfully honest architecture exposed its every component. Furthermore, pulling out a drawer augmented the aesthetics of the piece, drawing attention to the framework and the see-through negative space behind the drawer. The construction inspired me to build a floor-standing “see-through lingerie chest” a few years later. And recently, I decided to revisit the idea by making this cherry jewelry chest that sits comfortably on a bureau, and doesn’t require much wood.

Don’t be intimidated by the joinery here. If you have a hollow chisel mortiser, simply make the indexing jigs shown on page 38. They’ll ensure accurately located mortises with no layout involved. Use a tenoning jig (See onlineEXTRAS) to saw the tenons, following the step-by-step instructions shown. If you like, cutting the tenons is a great opportunity to use my twin-blade joinery technique (See onlineEXTRAS). As for the drawer boxes, to avoid the complexity of half-blind dovetails, I used through dovetails, covering them with front overlays. However, feel free to use different joinery if you like.

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