DIY With the Doctor: Transform Old Cedar Chest to Memory Chest


My dad will always be my favorite person. He died April 20, 2016. It meant the world to me to get his personal belongings back from his wife. I was overwhelmed with my Dad's most precious personal effects and didn't want to just stick them in boxes in the attic. Instead I decided to turn an old beat up Lane Cedar Chest I found at Habitat for Humanity (one of my favorite stores) into a personalized Memory Chest with a bench seat to hold my Dad's things where I could pull them out and sit and look at them. Here's what the Chest looked like when I started:  


Not pretty  

Not pretty  

The front handles were broken and missing

The front handles were broken and missing

The top was a mess

The top was a mess

The inside is gorgeous. Beautiful smelling cedar with the original Lane tags. So let the sanding begin.  

Once it was thoroughly sanded I stained it with Minwax Dark Walnut, everything at Cavalleria has this stain. We use a standard pallet here for the entire farm.  

I bought some new pine trim and used wood conditioner first. it helps with the pores of soft wood, so take the time and do this step. Let it dry about 15 minutes then start staining. I put four coats of stain on the trim. 

Next I measured for the trim cuts and cut the trim on my Chop Saw. I sanded down any rough edges and stained the pieces again.  

Using a Brad Nailer I attached the trim to the chest. It was beautiful. Now for the personalization.  

I bought cardboard letters in my Dad's initials at Hobby Lobby. I spray painted them using Rustoleum Oiled Rubbed Bronze. You all know I spray paint tons of things instead of buying new or throwing away. The letters turned out great. I Brad Nailed them on and hit the trim and the front of the letters with one more coat of stain to cover up the nail holes. My Dad's personalized memory chest is coming together. 

Next I wanted a bench seat on top of the chest, so using a piece of remnant fabric from our bedroom drapes I added foam to the top of the chest, then cut the fabric to size and stapled it on. Perfect. Project complete.  

...and I love it. It's personalized. And it's special.  


I love it. It sits in my dressing room now so I see it every day. It's got a great old world feel. 

I love it. It sits in my dressing room now so I see it every day. It's got a great old world feel. 

Remnant fabric from Master Bedroom drapes I made five years ago  

Remnant fabric from Master Bedroom drapes I made five years ago  

I love you Dad and I miss you. I hope you like your new chest.  

DIY With the Doctor: Rehab A Horse Trailer

DIY With the Doctor: Rehab A Horse Trailer

Today: On DIY With the Doctor: Give Your Horse Trailer a Make-Over

Looking a little old and tired? Does your horse trailer need a bit of a facelift? Well we have the solution for you! Cheap, easy, a little elbow grease and a little time and you can have a whole new look for pennies!

DIY With the Doctor: How to Make an Old World Pallet Sign for under $20

Our pallet sign  

Difficultly Level: Easy

Cost: $20 or less for the sign depending on your materials

Here are a few pics of our farm sign. Very simple to make.  

  1. Select a pallet that has great patina on the wood.  
  2. Dismantle the pieces you'll need.  
  3. Line them up in various order until you like the way they are arranged.  
  4. Adhere them together with screws and pieces of wood cut to length on the back side.  
  5. Use a translucent stain of your choice if you want to to stain the wood. I chose to use Sherwin Williams solid stain first.  
  6. Sand off and distress once it's dry.  
  7. Using a rag, apply a light coat of translucent stain on top. I used Sherwin Williams Exterior Pecan.  
  8. Sand off and distress to our liking.  
  9. Mads trim in cedar as I did, or out of wood from the pallet.  
  10. Add clips for hanging or mounting your sign.  

About lettering your sign: I chose to print each letter from the computer. I placed one letter per page and printed them out. Then I cut them out individually and taped them together to make a word. Using tracing paper and painters tape, I taped the mat of letters to the wood and then I traced the outline of the letters onto the stained and distressed pallet sign. Using a super small brush, I painted the letters using Sherwin Williams black solid stain we had mixed for our fence. You can do this step however you choose, my way was very time consuming and labor intensive, but it came out exactly the way I wanted it to. 

I chose to use mismatched antique chain to hang my sign.  

How to make a sign mount like Cavalleria's: 

  1. Select your location and dig holes at least 2 feet deep and 12 inches wide.  
  2. Set your posts in concrete and use a level to make them plum all the way around.  
  3. Once dry, mount your center post. 
  4. Stain cedar boards and cut to size to your liking to cover the treated post.  
  5. Adhere cedar with screws.  

Viola!!! You have a new sign and post!  

Welcome to My Blog! :)

Hi Everyone!

Welcome to my Blog! Here I will be posting about cool stuff like all the projects I do around our farm. My daughter jokes and calls my projects "DIY With the Doctor", so look for posts to Pinterest and Share with that title. 

Additionally, I hope to warm the hearts of others with photos and posts about my wonderful four-legged children. I am an avid Equestrian, have been my whole life, and am a French Bulldog Fancier. I am incredibly blessed to live on a farm named Cavalleria Rusticana, which means "rustic chivalry" in Italian. You can check out the farm here 

Further, I will post about the passion I have for my work in building awareness about crime scene staging in homicide cases, domestic violence, intimicide, death investigation, and crime synthesis.

I hope you'll enjoy reading my posts and I look forward to your feedback. Positive, appropriate, and polite comments always welcome! :) 

Aspire to Inspire,