Air Force Box & Pocket Knife

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Project by BrentB posted 06-10-2016 02:10 PM 2295 views 1 time favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch

As mentioned in an earlier project, I enjoy refurbishing pocket knives and typically I make a pocket knife gift box made out of the same wood used to make the handles (scales) for the knife. This project illustrates such an example.

The pocket knife is a basic Trapper style Imperial. It’s not a very old knife. The steel was in pretty good shape and didn’t need a whole lot of help however the scales were broken and worn. The scales are made of Bodark (Bois d’Arc, Osage Orange, Horse Apple etc.). The knife box is 6×3x2 and also made of Bodark trimmed in Walnut and accented with both Bodark and Walnut. For the finish I used the French Polishing technique.

The Bodark used for the box and knife scales is 276 years old to date. It was used as a foundation pier under my neighbor’s house, which was built in 1886 (130 years ago). After cross-cutting the pier I counted 146 growth rings. Assuming the tree was cut down for piers when the house was built, I subtracted the number of growth rings to determine the tree started its life 276 years ago in the year 1740.

The story behind this project is interesting. I met a young man about 5 years ago. At the time he was a freshman in high school. I saw a lot of myself in him at his age and we became friends. We kept up with each other throughout his high school years. When he graduated high school he came over to tell me he decided to join the Air Force. About a month ago he called to tell me he was coming to see me. The following Saturday afternoon he found me in my workshop. He was a changed man, leaner and very confident. He told me he graduated boot camp and we began discussing his future. At the end of our conversation he asked me if I’d refurbish a pocket knife for him. Of course it was my pleasure.

Ironically, just a few days later I received a private message from a fellow LJ member I’ve never met before. He told me he was a disabled veteran in Iowa who teaches other disabled veterans the joys of woodworking in his small workshop. He wanted to know if I’d be willing to explain to him how I build a box because he wanted to teach something different. I’m not nearly as skilled at making boxes as my fellow LJ members so I was surprised he asked me. The timing was perfect since I was just about to start making a box. And not just any box, but one for a young man who just finished boot camp. Needless to say I was honored and proud to do so. After all, it’s because of these brave men and women of our military that I get to sit in my workshop any time I want, to make whatever I want for whoever I want. So I took this opportunity to document everything I did while making this box and including lots of pictures and explanations for my new friend. Below is just an overview.

Before gluing the lid on the box I tape the inside. After gluing the lid I tape the outside of the box then cut the lid.

For the Air Force Emblem I used my Bandsaw cut two thin pieces of Bodark and Walnut and glued them together. Next I affixed the paper emblem to the Walnut. Using a Scroll Saw I cutout the emblem.

With regard to the emblem, the dark parts needed to be the walnut. The white parts needed to be Bodark so that when I glued the emblem to the box the Bodark would blend in with the box and the Walnut emblem would stand out. All I had to do was figure out how I would remove the Walnut down to the Bodark and be as precise as possible. Don’t laugh, but I decided to go very ‘low tech’ so I clamped a piece of straight edge steel to the emblem and used a piece of a Hacksaw blade to slowly remove the Walnut down to the Bodark.

After doing everything I could with the Hacksaw blade I finished the rest of the Walnut removal with a small Dremel bit and a small sandpaper jig.

Below is a picture of the unfinished box with the emblem.

Next I finished the box and accent pieces with Shellac.

Once everything was finished I put it all together and laid the felt.

-- Brent, Johnson County Texas......Resawing is like a box of chocolates, ya never know what you're gonna get.

4 comments so far

View Ivan's profile


17281 posts in 4319 days

#1 posted 06-10-2016 02:15 PM

Beautiful box and wooden opening hinge.

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 4318 days

#2 posted 06-10-2016 06:11 PM

Nice work.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View RReed's profile


1 post in 2167 days

#3 posted 06-11-2016 12:41 AM

Nice box supporting our armed forces. And the knife is beautiful too. Amazing history about the wood.

View HillbillyShooter's profile


5811 posts in 3744 days

#4 posted 06-11-2016 04:31 AM

Very nicely crafted and attractive save on the knife.

-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

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