Buckthorn and spalted Ash box

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Project by Horus posted 02-20-2021 06:38 PM 581 views 0 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch

The youngest of my three daughters turned 13 a month ago. I had to build her a box to keep her jewelry and trinkets – how could I not after building them for her two older sisters?

As I’ve been maturing in my hobby, the possibilities and options I’ve been considering have become increasingly complex and ‘out of the (big) box’. What I mean by that is I’ve been increasingly drawn to experiment with species other than the typical oak, mahogany, maple and walnut that seems to be a limitation of my local HD and Menards – I haven’t yet ventured into the true lumber yards. Partly because I’m cheap and don’t build large projects, other than shop appliances, I’ve been raiding my wood pile and trying to scrounge usable lumber from cheap or free sources.

Several years ago I cut down an ash tree in my yard. I kept a few larger crotch and log pieces of it to be milled later and left them in one of the natural parts of my yard to do a little drying – just so I could have something to play with later. At that point I knew nothing of milling, stack/sticker, etc.

Last summer I decided to get rid of a beautiful 12”diameter 25 ft tree after growing tired of all of its little berries, it’s prolific offspring production- and having positively identified it as buckthorn. When I cut it down, I could not help but notice the incredible color of the heartwood. An incredible red/orange/pink with stunning grain patterns.
Skip ahead to last fall as I had to finalize plans for the new box… I decided to make this one entirely from wood harvested from the yard my daughter has grown up in.

The neglected ash sap wood has spalted beautifully and is not yet punky, the buckthorn was not completely dry and is grossly prone to checking and cracking; I moved ahead anyway – wasting a lot of material I could have made good use out of if I had taken proper care of it when cut down. Buckthorn is a small tree, getting decent width of clear, straight wood proved a big challenge – I will definitely pay more attention, if I have the opportunity to harvest another one, when felling it.

My skills as a woodworker are developing – nowhere near master level; but developing. With a decent bandsaw and thicknesser (instead of a router sled), milling self-harvested wood will get much easier. I did however discover the advantages of a decent low angle jack plane and shooting board for this project – those two things alone elevated precision and options.

The field is buckthorn, accents ash. finish is Tung oil (in hindsight, I should have used a finish that doesn’t discolor the natural wood so much). All joints are butt joints, I figured with the glue being stronger than the wood, elaborate joinery would detract from the simple lines of the box.

I realized when posting the pics that I need to tweak the hinge on the right side for the top to fit a little better, and there’s a little tear out on the back I should address – suggestions for addressing one or both of these are welcome!

2 comments so far

View grovemadman's profile


963 posts in 5102 days

#1 posted 02-20-2021 07:41 PM

Nice little box! The only way to get better is to keep making stuff. In no time you’ll be amazed at what you can make when you take your time and put your mind to it.

-- "It is the job of the woodworker to hide his mistakes and keep a tight set of lips about them!"--Chuck

View therealSteveN's profile


9380 posts in 1904 days

#2 posted 02-21-2021 12:52 PM

I really like this box. It looks old, without being so. Very nice use of the grain patterns of the wood. Mostly I love a box with an interior, and yours is perfect use of the space inside. Nice job.

How did your Daughter like it?

-- Think safe, be safe

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