WT274 – Bridal Chest Construction Advice

On today’s Wood Talk “Weekend Edition” we’re giving construction and design advice to a listener on his bridal chest project.


James – I am planning on building my future daughter-in-law a bridal chest for their wedding in October. I want to make it out of frame and panel construction. I bought some sapele for the main structure, but I would like to make the panels out of a complimentary wood. Can you reccomend a complimentary wood that will look good with Sapele. I would like to use an exotic veneer on the panels, but I can’t, because I really like the profile of my Freud rail & stile router bit set, and I wouldn’t be able to raise the veneered mdf panel. I have made a veneered mdf panel before, surrounding it with matching hardwood, but that is really a pita. I could not find a plan that included the way I would like to build this chest. I plan on making separate frame and panels, then connecting one panel to another, using dowels, with the dowelmax system. Will there be a problem with wood movement using this method? And what about the lid? Should I make it with frame & panels. Or just laminate the boards to make a wide lid? If I laminate, should I use breadboard ends?

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3 replies on “WT274 – Bridal Chest Construction Advice”

Hey guys,

I remember seeing this project where the guy incorporated mahogany (similar to sapele) with cherry and wenge. I’ve loved this mix ever since I’ve seen it:


I’d love to hear your thoughts on this mix of species and as always, it was a great episode. Keep up the wood talking!


On what contrast with sapele I would say if you want to go lighter, got cherry, if you want to go darker go walnut (or as alex above stated wenge looked nice too.

a co-sleeper i made with cherry with sapele legs:

I did a growth chart with sapele and walnut as well, dont know if the link will work but if it helps pick a contrast lets give it a try:

Regarding WoodTalkShow No.274-Bridal Chest

I have made little progress on building my first large furniture project, a bridal chest (44″L x 23 1/2″W x 22″h), made from Sapele (frame) and African Mahogany (panels). Now I am focusing on the lid, which is where my problem lies. I was going to make the lid from quarter sawn ribbon stripe Sapele to match the frame, however, I could not locally source that material, and mail order proved to be too expensive.
So I purchased 3/4″ Baltic Birch plywood, and veneered it with the ribbon striped Sapele paper backed veneer using contact cement.
My plan is to frame this plywood lid with African Mahogany with miter joints and tongue and groove joints. I plan on using my newly acquired Freud 99-036 adjustable tongue and groove bit to accomplish this.

My question is, how do I go about framing this panel (19 3/4″ x 41″), using
2 1/4″ rail and stile pieces, with an overhang of 3/4″ on sides and front, leaving me with tight miters and joints?

Or should I use M&T joints, or just use my DowelMax and dowel the frame as I did with the frame of the chest?

I don’t have much experience with miter joints, especially on this large scale, and I’m afraid I’m going to screw this up. Is there a method that will assure me an accurate job? I have done some research on this, but I would like to get some input from you.

Do I cut the miters on the long pieces first? Should I build a miter shooting board (no experience)? Should I reinforce the miters with loose tenons or dowels? Should I glue the tongue and groove joints?
Does the tongue go on the frame or panel?

Thanks for any and all guidance that you might offer.

P.S. I obviously did not finish this for the wedding Oct 16, 2015, but better late than never. Sorry for all the questions , but I’m sure other newbies would find the answers enlightening.





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