After being so thrilled with the way my first box turned out, I’ve decided to design and build a few more different styles. I’ve drawn this one a few different ways now, and I’m still not sold on it completely. It may just be my inability to draw, so I might mock one up. At the very least, I’m going to draw it up in Sketchup and see how it looks. I think one of the problems is that the bevel on the top is not wide enough.

I am wanting to use a light colored wood (maybe Holly) and then Ebony for the handles and keys. I really like the look of the keyed miter, the different sized keys somehow compliments the lip on the lid. The thick line towards the top is where the lid starts. A thin veneer of Ebony on the lid and the top of the sides will define the opening. The lid will be hinged.

I’m also very happy with the look of the handles, at least how I imagine them in my head. Not sure if the drawing shows them truly how I’m thinking.

I’m also not sure about the feet. I have them drawn as ebony rods that are the full depth of the box in length. My wife loves them, I like them one time when I look at it and the next time I feel like they don’t fit the style.


I’ve now applied two coats of linseed oil and beeswax. Need to wait a couple days before I can put a 3rd coat on, and then another week, when I may finish with Shellac.  Once that is done, I will get some final pictures of it before giving to my friend who is eager to give it to his mother.  I will be posting those final pictures on a couple different sites, like, in order to sell a few more of them.  I will do a limited number of them, each with its number carved into the bottom.

Until the final finish is applied and those pictures taken, I wanted to post some pictures of it as it looks now, with two coats of the linseed oil and beeswax mix. A couple of them are some nice detail shots.

These next couple of shots were taken right after I finished applying the second coat of the oil, so its still pretty shiny:

Its a simple little box, but I absolutely love it. Its my favorite item I’ve made yet. A lot of that has to do with the fact that so much of it was done by hand. The handplaning and hand cutting of the dovetails is an incredibly special process. It is fulfilling in a way that no power tool can be. There is a peacefulness to using handtools that is simply unexplainable until you’ve tried it. The sound of a handplane taking amazingly thin shavings, the feel of a chisel in your hand, the balance of a well built dovetail saw that cuts with precision, these are beautiful to me.

Even the act of choosing the wood for a project is an amazing experience. When I found the piece of Butternut that I would use for this box, I immediately knew it was the one. The part of the board that became the center panel in the top just jumped out at me for that purpose, and that purpose only. I find that process of figuring out how to use the grain in a piece of wood to be extremely worshipful. I can’t help but praise God for the beautiful creation and feel incredibly blessed that I get the privilege of creating something new with it.

This project has been an important step for me, as it has taught me quite a lot. At the beginning design phase, I sought out the input of fellow woodworkers whom I admire and trust. It was humbling and encouraging to open myself up to others opinions. I’m not always very good at getting critiques, so its a good thing for me, and something I will probably do for many projects. Actually, another fellow woodworker has embarked on a project along those lines of opening his design process up to open critique. Jamon Schlimgen is posting a new sketch of a design everyday over at his blog. You should be sure to check it out.

It has been very exciting to take another design from idea to finished project. With each new project, my confidence increases, and I remember again why I love what I do.

Lastly, I have learned (and am still learning) a new skill set: the handcut dovetail. I love it! I spent a lot of time practicing them, which has greatly payed off. I can’t wait to make some more. It has become a very relaxing exercise. My friend (and honestly, a mentor), Adam King, says that cutting dovetails is therapy. I absolutely agree.

I sincerely hope that I can sell a few more of these boxes, because it is such an enjoyable project. You can also expect to see some more designs for other boxes like this coming throughout this year. Until then, you can expect the final pictures of this box in a couple weeks.


Butternut/Walnut box update

January 10, 2010

The box is completely assembled! Only thing left to do is apply the linseed oil and bees wax finish. And so, without further ado:

I was asked by a friend to make a box for his mom to hold cards that are very special to her. I put together some ideas in Google Sketchup, and asked some fellow woodworkers for their input using Google Wave. It was an interesting experience to get real time input online.

Here is the design that I settled on:

The woods it will be made out of are Butternut and Walnut.

I’ve been practicing my handcut dovetails for awhile in preparation for this project, and finally felt like I was up to the task yesterday.  So I got the dovetails all cut, then used the router table to cut a 1/4″ groove in the sides for the bottom.  If I had a hand tool option for making the groove, I would have used it, but I don’t yet.  I then cut the bottom of the box to size and used a skew plane to cut the rabbet to fit it into the 1/4″ grooves.  After assembling the box, I made the walnut bull nose moulding and attached it to the bottom.

Here is the progress so far, I wiped it down with mineral spirits to show closer how it will look when finished (the finish will probably be linseed oil and bees wax):

I still have to make the lid and apply the finish.  I will be sure to post updated pictures when I do.

I listen to a lot of music while I’m in the shop.  I have some great in-ear, noise canceling headphones that protect my ears from the noise of the tools and also allow me to listen to things that help inspire me while I work.  I also listen to audiobooks and podcasts, but that’s for another post.  I wanted to share with you all some of my favorite albums from this year which is quickly coming to an end.

I’m not very good at cutting lists down to, say, a top ten.  I just can’t bring myself to limit my favorites that narrowly.  With over 100 albums in my iTunes from 2009, I think cutting that down to my favorite 20 is pretty good frankly.  I’m very picky in what I listen to and buy anyway, so I tend to not purchase much blindly.  I guess some would call me a snob about my music tastes.  I guess if an intense dis-like for the trite bubble gum pop that has taken over all aspects of popular music makes me a snob, so be it.  I prefer the music to which I listen to have substance beyond just a catchy beat or a scantily clad singer.  I could care less if my favorite song had the hottest video on MTV during the 5 minutes that they actually showed a video.

As woodworkers, we tend to turn our noses down on the watered down quality coming out of places like IKEA or the particle board junk cabinets that are sold to unsuspecting customers at big box lumber yards.  Why would we accept watered down, low quality music?  Hopefully you can find something in this list that inspires you creatively like it did me.  So, without further ado, the following is my favorite albums of 2009, in alphabetical order:

  1. Aaron Strumpel, “Elephants”
  2. The Antlers, “Hospice”
  3. Antony and the Johnsons, “The Crying Light”
  4. The Avett Brothers, “I And Love And You”
  5. The Cave Singers, “Welcome Joy”
  6. Deer Tick, “Born on Flag Day”
  7. DM Stith, “Heavy Ghost”
  8. Elvis Perkins In Dearland, “Elvis Perkins In Dearland”
  9. The Felice Brothers, “Yonder Is The Clock”
  10. Grizzly Bear, “Veckatimest”
  11. Heartless Bastards, “The Mountain”
  12. J Tillman, “Year in the Kingdom”
  13. The Low Anthem, “Oh My God, Charlie Darwin”
  14. The Mountain Goats, “The Life Of The World To Come”
  15. Muse, “The Resistance”
  16. Neko Case, “Middle Cyclone”
  17. Paper Route, “Absence”
  18. Patrick Watson, “Wooden Arms”
  19. Slaid Cleaves, “Everything You Love Will Be Taken Away”
  20. Sleeping At Last, “Storyboards”

Honorable mentions: The “Dark Was The Night” compilation is one of the best Indie compilation albums I’ve ever heard. Bela Fleck, Zakir Hussain, and Edgar Meyer’s “The Melody of Rhythm”; David Bazan, “Curse Your Branches”; Joe Henry, “Blood From Stars”; Monsters Of Folk; We Were Promised Jetpacks, “These Four Walls”; Dave Rawlings Machine, “A Friend Of A Friend”

Anything you think I missed?  What music inspired you this year?  Feel free to share in the comments!