Next: The Biggest Campaign Chest

I love building campaign chests. There are so many variations on the form that I have yet to build two that are even similar. This week, I start on the most involved set of campaign chests yet.

It’s a three-tiered version, which is based on one owned by John Nicholson (1821-1857) and now owned by the National Army Museum, London. Nicholson was first commissioned into the Bengal Infantry in 1839 and spent his entire career in India. I saw the chest in person during my research for “Campaign Furniture.”

In addition to the challenge of building three cases, the customer also requested I make the transit cases for the chests. This was a job I simply could not turn down – I have always wanted to make these transit cases.

The transit cases were used to protect the fine cabinetry when moving camp. When you arrived at your destination, the empty transit cases could be used as a wardrobe or for other storage.

The biggest challenge with this project will be to manage my time. There are a lot of dovetails in this project and acres of surface area to handplane. I’ll need to be quick if I don’t want to lose money on this one.

But I’m up for it. With our machine room and bench room fully operational and organized, there will be very little faffing.

This customer also has been quite patient with me. I had hoped to build this project during the summer, but my life was tossed in the briar patch when my father died in February, and I became the executor of his estate (I now have two trusts to manage, one estate, three attorneys and three CPAs. It’s like having a fourth job.)

This project is way overdue. But here goes.

— Christopher Schwarz

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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25 Responses to Next: The Biggest Campaign Chest

  1. NR Hiller says:

    This looks seriously cool.

  2. Brad says:

    Sometimes to do things right we end up not making as much per hour but in the end it’s our name that speaks and allows us to obtain the easier jobs…

  3. Quercus Robur says:

    I bet the travel cases will end up looking cooler than the chests. Raising a toast for a better year!

  4. Steve Baisden says:

    Great project.
    Very sorry to hear about your father. Best of luck to you and yours.

  5. rockysstuff says:

    I say, Old Chap! You an do it!

  6. tsstahl says:

    I want to see the pics of these lashed to a draft animal, preferably a pachiderm. 🙂

  7. Clay says:

    I’m curious, will the transition cases be constructed from a secondary wood or the same species used to make the campaign chest for consistency?

  8. Darryn says:

    And talking of stock prep, I was watching an older Popular Woodworking video of you demonstrating stock prep and there was a “NPX” sticker in the background. I have stickers like this from when I worked at South Pole. Do you have a South Pole connection? All the best for the New Year.

  9. Christopher can’t wait to see the project progress. Especially the travel cases. I would love to have set like this for my marquee as British Rev War reenactor, so will follow this with great interest. I have plans for the campaign chest, need plans for the travel case. Wish a better year you as well.

  10. snwoodwork says:

    When you have an ocean of dovetails, are you still hand cutting them or using a machine to clear out the bulk?

  11. Barry MacDonald says:

    This might be the “Ultimate” Campain Chest.

    Good luck with the build.

  12. James D. Maher says:

    Of course, I notice that the drawing does not match the picture. The picture seems to show that the top and middle chest have no bottom board.

    I wonder how they really made the pictured piece.

    • FYI, I am not making a copy. Sorry if that wasn’t clear.

      I’ve made chests where the bottom board is obscured by the drawer front. You merely cut the bottom board narrower and the drawer front wider.

  13. Pascal Teste says:

    Looks like a fantastic project! It’s great that you have a client interested in this type of furniture, and having read your book on the subject, you must be crazy excited! Have fun with the build, and good luck with all the rest…

  14. Oh this is amazing, the hinges on the transit pieces look fun! Is the transit cases using the same jointery as the chests or is it more rough and ready?

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