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The client wanted a Frank Lloyd Wright, prairie style, cedar lined chest with inlays inspired from Wright's work. The chest is made of quarter sawn white oak and fully lined with aromatic cedar. The front inlay is taken from a pattern in the carpeting from the 1906 Robie House. The end inlays were from an embroidered pattern used in the bedrooms of the 1909 May House.


The most time consuming part of the project was laying out and designing the templates for the very intricate inlays. I made nine trial runs in scrap MDF and particle board before I ever touched the white oak panels with a router.


There were 46 pieces of template parts to cut the two different inlay patterns. I had four different plunge routers set up with the different size bits and depth settings. I took procedure notes and carefully marked each piece with cut order number and notes. Once I had it all figured, I cut the chest panels with no problems and in a short amount of time.

This shows the front inlay complete and scraped smooth. This panel has 89 pieces of hard maple, gaboon ebony, paduak, and black walnut, in the inlay.

The two end inlays are exactly alike. Each panel has 96 pieces of paduak and gaboon ebony.

The four corner posts were dadoed for the 1/2 round molding and the long mortise grooves to hold the ends of each panel have been cut.

Each of the four panels of this chest are actually "raised panels" floating in their own rail and stile frame. I kept the routed edges of the panels very narrow, enough to accommodate wood movement, but not detract from the style of the chest. This dry fit of the chest carcass shows that I finished the panels with an oil and varnish blend before assembly of the frames.

The finished front close-up with all the beading installed and finished.

The finished end.

The opened chest to show the cedar lining and sliding tray. All hardware is solid brass.


The clients live in New Jersey, so for a final approval I built a 1/4 scale model of the chest and shipped it to them. Obviously the inlay was extremely simplified, but the proportions were more visible than with just a two dimensional drawing. I do charge extra for this!


Chisel And Bit Custom Crafted Furniture

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