Military Coin Display

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Project by Tooch posted 12-23-2017 02:19 PM 1277 views 0 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My sister recently moved back home, taking a job as a professor at the University of Pittsburgh. She previously worked in Washington for several government agencies, including the CIA, Dept of State, and the Executive Office to the President (last administration). Back in September she told me about these Challenge coins that she collected throughout her years of service, and asked me if I could build her a display for her new office.

I did a bunch of research and found most coin displays were specific to a single branch of the military, but she asked for something with all 3 seals on it. The single branch displays wouldn’t really work with three different crests, so this is what I came up with. I wanted it to have an elegant look, so I decided to use 45° mitered corners, and wrap the grain around the main box to give the continuous piece look. I also added corner splines to reinforce the joints, and also so Boxguy Al would get off my case about it ;-)

The main wood is cherry, with roasted oak corner splines. The roasted oak was actually a poor choice because it is not very strong, and several of the splines split when I was tapping them into place. Lots of profanity ensued, but I was able to make them look somewhat presentable. I also reinforced the base and top 45s with dominoes. They were kinda difficult to cut, but made glue-ups much easier.

She received a larger coin for the years she worked at the White House, so I wanted that to be a focal point. The best place seemed to be the top, but I couldn’t figure out how to display it. After wracking my brain for a day or two, I thought of cutting a slot with a biscuit jointer. Of course, the coin was too big for just kerf, so I needed to make 2, which is a little more difficult than it sounds. The alignment isn’t perfect, but I’ll take it:

Luckily, I was able to procrastinate on this project long enough to make it a Christmas gift. Thanks for looking, as always comments or suggestions welcome and any questions replied to. Merry Christmas to you and yours!

-- "Well, the world needs ditch-diggers too..." - Judge Smails

11 comments so far

View doubleDD's profile


10932 posts in 3384 days

#1 posted 12-23-2017 02:33 PM

Impressive coin display Tooch. I think you covered the bases on this. She will be more than pleased wit it.
I like the idea for making the slots with the biscuit jointer.

-- Dave, Downers Grove, Il. -------- When you run out of ideas, start building your dreams.

View Ivan's profile


17144 posts in 4208 days

#2 posted 12-23-2017 02:34 PM

So beautiful display box, I like inlay corners. Those coins too looks great, quite collection.

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View Tooch's profile


2016 posts in 3216 days

#3 posted 12-23-2017 02:41 PM

Thanks Dave. She has traveled all over the world and may have a better teaching job than me, but I feel confident saying at least I’m a better woodworker haha

Thanks Ivan. Personally I don’t really enjoy making splines, but they do look nice.

-- "Well, the world needs ditch-diggers too..." - Judge Smails

View hoss12992's profile


4180 posts in 3233 days

#4 posted 12-23-2017 03:42 PM

Absolutely amazing and really cool. Very impressive. Great job buddy

-- The Old Rednek Workshop

View Tooch's profile


2016 posts in 3216 days

#5 posted 12-23-2017 03:46 PM

Thanks Hoss. Hoping you have a Merry Christmas

-- "Well, the world needs ditch-diggers too..." - Judge Smails

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30662 posts in 3679 days

#6 posted 12-23-2017 05:49 PM

Very nice work. Elegant display.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

27259 posts in 4446 days

#7 posted 12-23-2017 07:28 PM

Excellent display, Mike. I’ll be the love it!!

Cheers, Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View Tooch's profile


2016 posts in 3216 days

#8 posted 12-23-2017 08:52 PM

Thanks Monte and Jim, merry Christmas!

-- "Well, the world needs ditch-diggers too..." - Judge Smails

View Richard's profile


11310 posts in 4373 days

#9 posted 12-23-2017 09:42 PM

Beautiful Piece Of Work! Thanks for all of the Details also.

-- Richard (Ontario, CANADA)

View Boxguy's profile


2905 posts in 3608 days

#10 posted 12-23-2017 10:18 PM

Tooch, thanks for the shout-out. This is a beautiful box. The use of the biscuit cutter is a great call. You have come up with a great design. Like the emblems on the sides. This project may need a Lazy Susan on the bottom so your sister can show the various sides to her students.

I am happy to see that you are putting splines in a box…even if you hate them. Toasted Oak? Sounds like it will swell with moisture. By the way if you are pounding in the splines they are too thick. Make them so there is some room for the glue. Most wood will swell a bit when you apply the glue and it picks up moisture. I try to plane the spline stock thin enough so I can slide it back and forth in the spline kerf. You also can’t cut spline kerfs and plane splines and wait a day or two to install them. Something will change size. I try to cut my kerfs, plane my spline material, and install the splines all in sequence.

I wish you and yours a very merry Christmas.

-- Big Al in IN

View  woodshaver Tony C   's profile

woodshaver Tony C

8458 posts in 4693 days

#11 posted 12-27-2017 12:18 AM

Outstanding work tooch! Great job on this project!

-- St Augustine FL, Experience is the sum of our mistakes!

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