Home > Items of interest > Sea Chest

Sea Chest

A year or more ago I was given a dovetailed chest. If I recall it came from an officer on a Great Lakes freighter and was used to keep his personal items while on board. The chest measures 28″ long, 13″ deep and 11″ tall. When it was given to me the paint had been removed so the joints were easy to view.


The trim is nailed around the top and bottom as are the bottom boards. The dovetails have quite an angle, more than I would typically use, but may be fun to try on a project.

All of the hardware was in jars inside the chest including the lock.

Inside the chest there is a definite tinge of red so i assume that it may have been the original color, at least inside. Also the hinge locations have been moved and new mortises installed at one time. I’m debating what to do with the chest. It seems that I should repaint it to keep it in fair condition, possibly with milk paint.

Lastly I wonder at the story of this chest, the travels across the lakes and the owner.


Categories: Items of interest
  1. Jim B
    February 10, 2016 at 1:54 pm

    Interesting to see such skinny pins on an older, utilitarian piece. I would have thought function would have prevailed over form in this case, for the added strength more uniform pins/tails provides.

  2. February 10, 2016 at 4:44 pm

    This is pretty cool! I have a weakness for these sailors chests. I want to build one complete with fancy beckets, tied by me of course. I just haven’t gotten around to it. You have a great example. Thanks for giving us a look.

  3. rawlingsrod
    February 10, 2016 at 7:04 pm

    Could the interior be painted with red lead?

    • February 14, 2016 at 7:43 pm

      That’s an interesting thought. My guess is milk paint. Either way I think I will paint it with some red milk paint and seal it up.

  4. February 11, 2016 at 5:45 pm

    Looks very nice! I wish someone would hand me old toolboxes :).
    A thin coat of red milk paint with a sealer of some kind would look sharp. Something to protect it without making it look too new. Good luck!

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