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Handcrafted Blanket Chests

  Blanket chests are one type of furniture that is worth being made well. They are handcrafted wooden chests passed from one generation to the next which families fill with their heirloom treasures. The blanket chest, also known as a hope chest or dowry chest, has retained its sentimental value in our society as a family heirloom due to its beauty and fine craftsmanship.  Many homes also use these versatile blanket chests for many different types of storage, depending upon the room in which they are placed.   Hope chest furniture can be used as coffee tables, side boards, entryway sideboards, end tables, buffet tables and as an extra cozy seating area. The extra storage that they provide is a plus since many people reside in smaller living areas than what they would prefer. Added to their ability to double as a storage unit along the top area used as a much needed space, blanket chests give every home warmth and a welcoming atmosphere with styling dating back to the 1700's and 1800's. This 'ageless' styling in a huge reason that blanket storage chests retain their standing as one of the most favored types of furniture.   Blanket chests may not be considered a necessary piece of furniture to many in this day and age, but they were extremely necessary to families of the past eras. Many young women were given dowry chests to fill with necessary household items. They crafted quilts, blankets, crocheted items, baby clothes and bed linens to name a few. On their wedding day, these blanket chests were proudly placed on the wedding wagon for the newly weds to take to their home. Other young women did not receive a hope chest until their wedding day, but the chests were still filled with the many needed items to run a household.    The older style of blanket chest was normally fairly large since it was required to hold so many items. Wood craftsmen learned the best methods to construct these important pieces of furniture. Mortise and tenon joinery and dovetail joinery were the favored construction types. Beautiful hardwoods like cherry, oak, maple and walnut were used in one inch thicknesses to create extremely durable wooden chests. Hope chests were usually stained a dark brown or painted to enhance the engraving or other embellishments on the outside areas. The name of the person who received the blanket chest along with the date was inscribed on the outside or on the inside of the lid of these heirloom chests. Some blanket chests were made with drawers along the bottom in which to place an extra special item such as a wedding dress. Others were given a tray area in top that could be easily removed in which to place smaller items.  The joinery styles used were made with hammer and chisel in a very precise manner since the corner pieces of the chest needed to fit exactly into each other. Dovetail joinery shows off the skill of the cabinet maker better than the mortise and tenon style. All of the small cuts for a precise fit are fully visible like interlocking fingers.The craftsmen who labored on these blanket chests were considered masters of their trade. In fact, these men were known as cabinet makers and were in very high demand. Some German immigrants, along with men of religious communities like the Amish, also made names for themselves as master woodworkers. These men took exceptional pride in their wood working skills.  When looking for a handcrafted blanket chest to enhance your home, find out if the hardwoods the company or individual craftsman uses is solid with no inferior wood. Check their construction methods. Screws should only be used to fasten the lid hinges and nails should not be used at all since they create splits in the wood. With so many different styles of wooden chests in a variety of stain colors and hardwoods, you can easily find a blanket chest just right for your home at Blanket Chest Heirlooms.com.   

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