Let’s see together some ideas and tips on building a DIY wooden chest or using recycled materials to save on construction costs.
The chest is a variant of the chest, a type of furniture whose origin dates back to the Middle Ages and is widely used in Italy, from the fourteenth to the seventeenth century.
The chest was born as a straightforward piece of furniture but over the centuries, it underwent considerable evolutions, especially from the point of view of aesthetics and decorations, which became more and more complex and detailed; consequently, especially between the end of the Middle Ages and the beginning of the Renaissance, some carpentry shops were born, specialized exclusively in the production of this piece of 4furniture.
As the name quickly suggests, the chest was nothing more than a container used to store and store clothes and linen, especially wedding kits. Still, with its rapid diffusion in all social classes, it was also used to keep documents, objects, money and other belongings.
The popular version of the caisson was made by nailing wooden boards to form a rectangular box closed at the top by a hinged lid, also made with wooden panels; some specimens, depending on the type and intended use, could be reinforced with iron bands and with the addition of locks or padlocks.
The wealthier classes could afford to commission chests with elaborate decorations, often inlaid and made in different shapes; given the similarity of shape with the coffins, however, in most cases, the shapes of the chests were inspired by those of ancient sarcophagi.
Today’s Use of the Chest
As mentioned earlier in the introduction, the chest is nothing more than a variant of the chest; the wooden crate, in addition to playing the role of a closet, also served as a seat and for this reason, it was often equipped with a backrest and enriched with cushions and other solutions to make the seat more comfortable and functional.
Nowadays, the chest is limited since it is a piece of furniture more challenging to place inside the houses furnished in a modern style. Still, it is not difficult to find it in rustic country houses and in those furnished in a classic style, where it is still very much in vogue.
Regardless of its aesthetic style, however, this piece of furniture is still highly appreciated thanks to its functionality, which is why it is not uncommon to find “modern” variants on the market for purely practical use, such as the generic outdoor chest, or the garden chest, both intended to serve as a storage room for gardening materials and tools.
How to Make a DIY Chest in Wood
However, the contemporary charm of the chest is linked above all to the world of bricolage; in fact, it is undeniable that it is one of the do-it-yourself wooden furniture par excellence, both for its ease of construction and because decidedly low construction costs characterize it.
For the benefit of all DIY enthusiasts, regardless of the degree of experience accumulated in this sector, let’s go further into the subject and make a more or less approximate estimate of the costs of making a simple chest.
Materials and Costs
The choice of wood to use must be dictated above all by the chest’s final destination; spruce and silver fir, for example, are essences that fear humidity, so they are to be taken into consideration only if you want to make an indoor wooden chest.
However, to make outdoor chests, the best woods are chestnut, pine, acacia, oak, larch, cypress, teak, and any other wood characterized by high hardness and resistance.
Besides solid wood, it is also possible to consider two further options: glulam, which is less expensive but equally resistant, and the most economical solution of all, which is to make the chest with pallets, which can be purchased at a significantly lower cost.
From an economic point of view, solid wood and laminated wood, both in 18 mm thick boards, have a variable cost from 12 to 90 euros per piece depending on the essence and size, while the 27 millimeters of thickness can cost from 30 to 190 euros per piece.
The dimensions of the boards can vary from 30 to 60 centimeters in width and 80 to 300 centimeters in length; the overall cost of the raw material to be used, therefore, depends entirely on the size of the chest.
Pallets, on the other hand, as previously mentioned, can be purchased at a cost that varies from around 5 to 15 euros each, depending on the size and state in which they are located; Furthermore, we must not neglect the possibility of recovering them at no cost, by asking the staff of a warehouse or a shopping center.
The only flaw, if you choose to use the pallet as a raw material for the construction, is that the realization of the chest with this material requires a greater quantity of small parts, sandpaper, glue and other consumables because the wood of pallets has a smaller width than solid or glulam boards.
Consumables and Equipment
The cost of consumables must then be added to the price of raw materials, i.e., glue and small metal parts, especially wood screws and hinges, as well as paints and those for any protective treatment against rain humidity: mold and UV rays, both finishing ones.
Despite its simplicity of design, specific equipment will still be required to realize the chest: a radial miter saw, a table saw, a planer and thicknesser, a sander and the related abrasive paper belts on. Therefore, a project of this kind could be pretty challenging for a beginner, but at the same time, it could prove to be the right opportunity to increase one’s own power tools park.