Hope Chests and Family Heirlooms

After my Dad passed away, my mom went through his things and let the kids take items that were special to us, or held a specific memory for us.  We came upon this chest, and she mentioned if no one wanted it, she was probably going to add it to the donate items.  I didn’t have any particular attachment to the chest, but I figured I could find something for it, and decided to take it home.


It was pretty beat up, as it used to sit in the “Den” of our house growing up, which was really the kid’s TV and Nintendo room. That glass ring on the lower right corner was probably formed during a super intense game of Super Mario Brothers. I decided to strip the cedar chest down, and refinish it.  As I started poking around inside, I found that the inside of the chest was in perfect condition, and even found a warranty tag, dating it back to at least 1935.



It’s a Lane Cedar Chest, which I did some research on, and it’s a furniture company that started in 1912.  I asked my Aunt about this chest, and she was almost certain that my Grandmother was given this chest as a teenager, which would date it back to the early 1920’s. The more I discovered about this chest, the more interested I became.  I briefly thought about not stripping it down, as it may take away from some of the value – but then decided the monetary value wasn’t worth nearly the keepsake value, and that I would be keeping this chest in my home.

I started by sanding down the top few layers of the finish.  The top and sides were pretty easy, as they were flat surfaces.  The front of the chest was tough.  It has a lot of intricate detail, and sanding those tiny little spaces was about as fun as poking spoons in my eyes.


I used Minwax PolyShades in Tudor.  I prefer the PolyShades, because they come with the Polyurethan mixed right in, so this is a one and done stain. It also goes on with a paint brush, versus a rag (wiping on, wiping off, etc.) – for which I just don’t have the patience. I did two coats of stain, as I wanted it to have a pretty dark finish.

Once it was done, the chest found a home in my craft room.  It’ll probably be moved 100 times before it finds its true home.  I do know, I will take much better care of it then I did when I was a kid.  Funny how age does that to you.  The older I get, the more important these family heirlooms become to me.


Do you have any family heirlooms that are special to you?  I’d love to hear your story.


4 thoughts on “Hope Chests and Family Heirlooms

  1. Steve says:

    I just located one exactly like this! This is the only one I’ve found online like it. Wondering if you have the key and if so, could you take a photo of it and either post it or email it to me as none of the experts seem to be able to ID the key or find one.


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