Thursday, July 10, 2014

Leah's first jewelry box.

I blame my mom for the "Icantsitstill-itis" disease that currently affects me.  I'm a full-time registered nurse, a dad to a busy-bee when I'm not at work, a part-time photographer (although it's been feeling more like full-time lately) and a husband (I'm so sorry Haley)!  But I can't sit still!  So when one of my coworkers gave me some black walnut from her late-Dad, who carved it as a hobby, I knew I had to make something pretty special.  After approximately 7 seconds, I knew exactly what to make: A jewelry box for one of the most important girls in my life!

My last few projects were far less intricate- a sewing desk, toy box, toy shelf, two chalkboards,  three art frames and some trim work around the house.  I really wanted to make this box special because it would be something she (hopefully) kept forever.  Plus, it's made out of the most beautiful wood that I ever seen and had the pleasure to work with.

I started with a rough idea of what I wanted to make and created as I went.  I initially wanted to cut the lid out of one solid piece of wood but I just didn't have the right tools and technique to do it. Hence, the pic below:

So I ended up using my table saw fitted with dado blades and carved out the sides and middle while leaving the front, top and back intact.  It turned out to be a cool look that I continued through the bottom half.

At some point during the build, I decided to offset the dark walnut with birch plywood scraps I had laying around. At first, I felt like I was disrespecting the black walnut by adding birch. Then after the pieces were attached, I knew I made the right choice. The contrast between the two woods really accented the box nicely.

I was going to stop there, attach the lid and call it a day but I know my daughter too well. A box is a box to her and nothing more. If left as was, I'm sure it would've accumulated Legos, dolls, blueberries, crackers, possibly a booger and car keys that we spent all day looking for. No, I had to make it extra special. To do that, I added a shallow tray with an underlying "secret compartment" for her to put really fancy jewelry in. Things like her rose clip-on earrings or one of her fancy play bracelets.

The last thing I wanted to do was add an ornate design somewhere on the box to fancy it up. We shopped at the local craft store and I found the perfect stamp. Not too big, or small, but just the right shape, size and design.  I tested the placement in different locations with a scrap piece before finally deciding to put it on the lid.

A couple days later, I was in the final stages... After a few coats of polyurethane with light sanding in between, the box was finally finished!  I gave it to Leah this morning and before I knew it, she already had one earring (not sure where the other one went), a necklace, a bracelet and one barrette inside.  Perfect!

I had so much fun building this and learned a lot about box design and construction.  Overall, the cost was pretty low because the beautiful wood that was given to me.  I paid $25 for the solid brass stop-hinges, $5 for the stamp and $3 for the ink.  The whole thing is held together by wood glue I had laying around.

Below is the finished box with my beautiful girl holding it in the last image.

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