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.

Little Boxes made of Ticky Tacky

Christmas came and went with such a rush, that I completely forgot to even take some photos of the two boxes I made as presents.  These are a few photos of one of those boxes (taken by my old man) of the box given to my Mum.

Dovetail Box

The sides are Tasmanian Oak, from Misan Timbers.  They have been dovetailed using the Gifkins Dovetail jig, with felt on the base, and more felt on the inside base.  The finish is hard burnishing oil, followed by Ubeaut Traditional Wax applied then buffed with the Ubeaut Swansdown mop mounted in the drill press.

Underside of Lid

The top is framed with Tasmanian Oak, and the panel is Queen Ebony from SITCO Australia.  (It is looking a lot redder than in real life).

On the underside of the lid, I have added felt around the perimeter (where it makes contact with the base)

Inside of Box

The base is actually a floating panel (as is the Queen Ebony in the lid), with a rebate around the edge and sitting in a slot cut around the base.

Side of Box showing Dovetail Detail

The dovetails were perfect straight off the router table – the beauty of the Gifkins jig – once you have it set right, repeatable, perfect dovetails are almost too easy.

Laminates and Veneers

A few years ago when I was making my entertainment unit using pine veneered onto MDF (at the time it was what I could afford, and meant I didn’t have to do massive amounts of joinery to get the large panels I needed).  At that stage, the company I used (Australian Wood Panels) had an impressive array of veneered panels you could choose from – jarrah, blackwood, walnut, pine etc etc – about 10-15 different timbers.

It seems in recent times they are now primarily limited to raw MDF and ply (and melamine), and you have to order in the veneered panels (I’m talking about 1200×2400 veneers, not something you can do in the shed with a vacuum bag, or an iron!)

If anyone knows where a decent range of veneered panels on different cores can still be sourced, I’m sure there will be people interested in knowing.

Entertainment Unit

An old photo of the entertainment unit from years ago – at least 6 years ago, if not more.  The unit wasn’t completed in this photo – still had the doors to go (all raised panel for the 4 lower ones, and glass for the 2 display cabinets) (and I don’t think I ever took a photo of the unit completed).  It is now scattered around the house – the two side modules are still there, but the TV when upgraded to a plasma no longer fitted, so the central module is now in a different room, and the TV itself is now in the shed!  (Even the digital camera used is ancient – 0.3MP)

In the (old) shed, during the build

Boy, some of these photos go back!  Back to the old shed days when I still had plenty of room in it! Triton Workcentre there in the foreground, GMC lathe in the background.

Assembly and finishing

Back in the days before I had grass – the back yard was sand, and that’s my dingo asleep beside the blue rubbish bin.  As you can see from this photo, I finished as I went, so areas that were going to be hard to get a decent finish on after assembly were pre-done.  All finished with a jarrah stain and Ubeaut traditional wax. The sides, and shelves are pine veneered MDF, the fronts are solid pine (so I could rout detail into them, and for added strength for hinges etc.  I mush have done a pretty good job of the build as the cabinets are still going strong.

A First Box

Suppose that is a little misleading – I have made boxes before, but not with an attention to the joint, nor, from memory, with the use of nice timbers and it to have cosmetic appeal as well as a function.  Who knows why – I’ve gone as far as proving the joint can be made (by me that is!), and the other specific construction areas, but hadn’t actually bought them together to create a finished object.

So this is what I have come up with.  I’ve given away the sliding lid, and instead went for a shallow rebate around the lid for a close fitted separate one.  Leaving hinges for another day, and for a box with thicker walls (at least initially).  I’d also like to try to make wooden hinges, but again – not for this box!

Mulga Box

Mulga Box

The finish is very simple, which I like – I’ve given it a sand to about 220 grit with a ROS (random orbital), then applied Ubeaut Traditional Wax.  This was then bought to the final finish with a good buff with a Ubeaut Swansdown mop, mounted in the drill press.  I haven’t used it for smaller objects before (that weren’t turning on the lathe that is), so have always had it mounted in a hand drill.  Having it mounted in a fixed tool and bringing the work to the mop was so much easier! (Of course working on large furniture which is the last thing I used it on doesn’t exactly give you that option!)

UBeaut Swansdown Mop

UBeaut Swansdown Mop

It might look dirty etc, but it needs to have a significant wax buildup in the mop before it actually becomes functional, otherwise it just sucks the wax right out of the project!

Disaster – UBeaut EEE is no more

EEE Ultrashine (pronounced Triple E) was one of those amazing products – a cut and polish for woodturners. The name was a play on Tripoli – the mineral (like talc) that is used as the cutting agent in the wax.

Unfortunately, too many out there just didn’t “get it”. Not whether the product was any good or not, just the name 😉

So the product is still being sold, but now it is just called “Ultrashine” Whew 🙂

UBeaut Shellawax Cream – Special

I’m a big fan of the UBeaut range of products – and particularly the Shellawax products. As you may gather from the name, they are a combination of shellac (used for French Polishing) and wax (I also use a lot of UBeaut Traditional Wax, which has a higher melting point than beeswax, which makes it great for products that are going to receive handling.)

Anyway, onto the point, there is a batch of Shellawax Cream that is being sold at 1/2 price, so thought I’d post it here to bring it to your attention. This is the original text about it – explains what is going on with it being 1/ price, and provides the links so you can read more about the product, as well as where to source it from (in this case specifically being the seconds stock, rather than where the U-Beaut range can be purchased from!) So to quote Neil Ellis (who’s book on finishing I still refer to as “The Finishing Bible” – posted on here about a year ago):

We currently have a large quantity of SHELLAWAX CREAM SECONDS in stock which must be sold. This Cream is seconds because turpentine was inadvertently left out of the brew.
It works brilliantly, with some saying it’s possibly better than the proper Shellawax Cream, however because of the lack of turpentine it is a little thicker than usual and has a slightly gritty feel. The gritty feel is because small pin prick sized bits of carnauba wax are suspended in the mix rather than fully blended as usually is the case. This suspended wax is soft and will mix in with the rest during application of the Cream to the work.
To view Shellawax Cream info page CLICK HERE
Regular price $28.60incl GST
ONLY $14.00 GST incl
Box of 9 jars $120.00
Order box lots from U-Beaut: 03 5221 8775
individual jars from Carroll’s:03 5251 3874
All orders will be PLUS POSTAGE or COURIER at standard postal rates.
No packing or handling fees are charged.

Unorthodox Triton Router Table Mod Part 1

I’ve had a few queries about my unusual table top in my recent post about Router Tables. So to cause a bit of controversy, here is the article I wrote at the time about the modification. To clarify however, I still use an original, unmodified Triton Router Table quite successfully, so this is another one of those “I’ll always try to modify everything kind of thing!”


I have been using the Triton Router Table for a few years now (with the Triton Router pretty much permanently mounted), and have found it to be an excellent way of performing most router operations. In fact, other than some totally unavoidable operations where I need to do freehand routing, I wouldn’t dream of not using a router table. As things have progressed, I have been expecting more and more from my equipment, in their capabilities, and accuracies, and have been reaching a point where I needed to use bigger and bigger router bits, and/or a very high degree of accuracy. As I have written in another article, (which I’ll post here soon) the micro-adjusters for the Triton Router Table are excellent for achieving precise fence movements.

When using some very large router bits (such as for raised panel joints), I found that the Router Template Guide plate got in the way, so I wasn’t able to lower the bit far enough to achieve the cut that I wanted. To get around this, I had three options. The first was really not an option at all (lowering the router). The second was raising the work, which although ok, made it difficult to achieve the same setup every time (you don’t want each door on a raised panel cabinet looking different!) The final solution was to make the Triton Router Table top thicker. This had an added benefit of allowing a 1-piece top, which meant that there was no chance for the front edge of a piece of work to catch the top of the table at all, or worse, experience any dip or rise as it progressed past the router bit.

Photo 1 – Original Triton Router Table

There were a few things that I demanded of the upgrade.
1. Retain the ability to use the fence, perform through-table bit changing, and still be able to use the various router table jigs (finger joiner, biscuit joiner, jigsaw table).

2. The modification must be fully reversible, which adds an extra dimension to the design.

3. The table must still be able to take a full range of bit sizes, from the 3mm Triton bit, through to panel making bits, without ending up with a huge cavity when using the smaller bits.

4. Safety must not be compromised.
My solution was to attach a new single piece of aluminium sheet over the entire tabletop, while still leaving the slot for the sliding portion uncovered, and therefore usable as originally intended. After much thought, I finally clicked to the best way to do this- attach the new top to the removable router holding plate, so that it gets removed at the same time as the router is.

Click here to read full article

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