A Memory Box

Sometimes a memory box isn’t important just for what is inside, but the box itself – the materials it is made from have as much significance as the contents.  This is one of those boxes, and was one I made as a Christmas present this year for my Mother-in-Law.

A Box of Memory

The request for this box came about while my wife’s grandfather’s house was all being packed for the last time (he has recently moved into a nursing home).  Some furniture was not worth selling, and as it was about to be placed out for disposal, the thought by my MIL was whether I might be able to do something with the timber at least, to make a memory box.

The timber came from a piece of Rosenstein furniture, made from Queensland Mahogany.  There was no way that I could maintain the original finish, but that wasn’t specifically important – that it was made from this timber with family historical value was the key.

I took the panel, removed a length of beading detail, then thicknessed and drum sanded it down to a better thickness for the box.  The dovetails were created with the Gifkins Dovetail Jig.

Crocodile Leather Top

Another item found during the process was a bag of crocodile leather, left over from the 60’s, when my wife’s grandmother got a pair of leather boots made.  This was part of the left-over.

I took a piece and glued it to some Tasmanian Oak (so inside the box would still be worth viewing).

Edge Beading

To finish off the leather detail, I took some of the beading removed at the start of the process, ripped it down with the bandsaw, and used this smaller portion (approx 1/3 of the original beading width) to create this edge detail.

Wherever I used the original beading, I was particular in that the original finish was not changed at all, so the colouring of the original furniture is still represented in this reconsideration of the original item.

That crocodile leather is pretty awesome too, and that so much of this box carries that extra depth of meaning is significant, both for the recipient of the box, and for me as I was making it.

Underside of Lid

Keeping the lid simple, I rebated around the edge to create a lid that lifts off, rather than one that incorporates a hinge. (Wooden, handmade hinges is a project for the (near) future).  Here the contrast between the mahogany, and the Tassie Oak is quite noticeable.

Dovetail Detail

Around the top of the box (below the lid), I’ve attached the full width beading removed from the original furniture, mitred at the corners.  It was originally attached with small nails, and where that occurred I have left untouched – if it has a hole, so be it.  I used Titebond glue for both the dovetails, and the beading.

The finish is my old favourite – Tung Oil, and Ubeaut Traditional Wax

In the bottom of the box, and under the box, I’ve attached felt, and otherwise the box is a simple design.  Once again, the Gifkins Jig proves just how good it is at a simple full dovetail. (I have tried handcut dovetails, it can be done, but i didn’t find  it particularly rewarding, or satisfactory result-wise with my skill level – the darkside eludes me again) (Saw a T Shirt quote recently – Come over to the Darkside…..we have cookies!)

I still have a long way to go with my box designs, but for a long time I didn’t even dare try one at all.  A box is something that is often appreciated very closely, so if you don’t have really accurate joints (etc) it is pretty obvious to an even untrained eye.

Creating a box that not only will contain memories, but is made from them is a particularly rewarding exercise.

Play Table Progress

Made some progress over the weekend on a small play table.  Still have the chair to make, but the hard part is done: starting!

Firstly, I prototyped the leg and a part of the chair back.

Play Table Prototype

Play Table Prototype

The back is curved, and was cut on the bandsaw.  First the top was done, then the front and back curves cut.  Came out better than I expected, so from here, I will make up a template so future chairs can be made with the same design.

The leg was a guess at the right height, and the pen marks on it are the susequent measurements I made when my model was available – from back of knee to floor, thickness of thigh etc.  Then added on some clearances, and allowance for growth, and the final height was arrived at.

I then made the top for the table.  Cut in MDF, because I want to paint it and anything else would be wasted under paint.

Laying out the corners

Laying out the corners

The top was sized, and then the corners rounded off.  This was done first on the bandsaw, and then finished with a pattern following bit on the router table.  Next, I wanted a channel all round so that it would catch minor spills, and potentially pens/crayons etc so they didn’t necessarily roll onto the floor.  It won’t stop either, but it will certainly help.

Routing the channel

Routing the channel

This was done by clamping the top to my only working surface in the shed (still) – my tablesaw, then the router with a cove bit and a fence to cut the channel.

Then it was back onto the router table to round over the edges.

Finished Top

Finished Top

The leg material was cut and dressed, then cut to length.  Mortise slots cut into the top, and into the skirting.  The skirting took a few passes on the router table to round over corners, add a bit of beading detail, and cut a slot at the back for clips to hold the top on.  The Mortise Pal certainly made cutting mortises easy, so was a good initiation for it!

Table base glueup

Table base glueup

Table base detail

Table base detail

Play table ready for painting

Play table ready for painting

So that in brief was how the table came together.  The chairs will be very similar, and will be the next project.

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