My First Box, made in 1997

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Project by stefang posted 05-04-2011 07:53 PM 2810 views 4 times favorited 25 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My son is getting his apartment ready to sell as he will be moving to Sweden soon. My wife and I were helping him out when I ran across this box I made for him about 14 years ago. He asked me if I could refresh the finish for him, so I took it home.

I thought it might be fun to show you this old work. It was my very first box and my very first wood carving. I really worked hard at that carving and I know it’s not good, but I was proud of it at the time (or maybe just proud that I actually finished it). The box is made from Birch.

The one thing I still like is the clasp on the front. As you can see from the pics above, the clasp locks onto a very short, small dowel that sticks out a little less than 1/16”. The clasp is doweled into the box at the bottom leaving it just flexible enough so it can be pulled out at the top enough to slip onto the dowel and keep enough pressure to keep the box firmly locked. The clasp is hollowed out a little on the inside top part to accept the dowel. This was my own idea/design, but I’m quite sure the concept has been used a lot since the stone age.

I also want to take the opportunity to tell all my LJ buddies that right now my participation is pretty hit and miss, but I’ve got so much to do outside the shop right now that I’ve been too tired at night to sit much on the computer. I do have your posts in my mail notifier (about 150 of them at present) and I will be looking at and commenting on your posts, but in catch-up mode. So don’t think I’ve forgotten you!!

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

25 comments so far

View Hoakie's profile


307 posts in 5317 days

#1 posted 05-04-2011 08:31 PM

Not sure who you are trying to be humble for….but that box is very cool, and I really like the clasp and the carving. As you know I’ve been going through some “firsts” and hope to someday in the future go back and look at things I did when I started. Currently everything I’ve made (except for 1 box, 1 bowl and my shop related stuff) has been given away as a gift so I don’t get to look back and appreciate/critique my earlier stuff.

I understand how busy you can get…and you can thank me for not contributing to the pile up in your inbox…. I’ve been pretty busy myself.

-- John H. [To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk. ~Edison]

View SSMDad's profile


395 posts in 3878 days

#2 posted 05-04-2011 08:43 PM

Very nice one Mike. I appreciate the carving and its even more special since you made it for your son. I’m in the process of planning out a hobby horse project for my 2 year old now. I hope he still has/wants it 14 years from now. :)

-- Chris ~~Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past."

View patron's profile


13722 posts in 4622 days

#3 posted 05-04-2011 09:09 PM

now there is one nice piece of work mike
the clasp is so cool

and to have a buddy that started woodworking
in the stone age
is something i will treasure always

that’s right up there
with al gore
giving us the internet

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 4396 days

#4 posted 05-04-2011 09:31 PM

maybee it isn´t the best carving you have made Mike I´m not the judge for that
but you can count at least one that like both the box and the picture on the lid
a very nice way of making the dragon fill the frame out :-)

take care and don´t forget to enjoy the spring while you work in the sun :-)


View daltxguy's profile


1373 posts in 5195 days

#5 posted 05-04-2011 09:31 PM

Looks beautiful to me and the clasp is very clever. Your son is very lucky to own an original ‘Mike creation’.

-- If you can't joint it, bead it!

View littlecope's profile


3133 posts in 4783 days

#6 posted 05-04-2011 11:36 PM

Great Job on the Box Mike!!
You downplay your abilities, but you’ve got a trick or two up your sleeves my Friend… :)
Love the clasp and carving!!

-- Mike in Concord, NH---Unpleasant tasks are simply worthy challenges to improve skills.

View oldsmoothy's profile


35 posts in 3937 days

#7 posted 05-04-2011 11:47 PM

Great Job, love the carving and the clasp is really nice.

-- OS, Burleson, TX

View Dave's profile


11435 posts in 4121 days

#8 posted 05-05-2011 01:01 AM

Very nice carving. I do love the knight and dragon. Was the birch kiln dried? And the latch is very impressive. Great first mike.

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are."

View MyChipCarving's profile


658 posts in 4406 days

#9 posted 05-05-2011 03:58 AM

Well done for a firstie, Mike! I like the carving to add character.

-- Marty,, 866-444-6996

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4168 posts in 4138 days

#10 posted 05-05-2011 10:23 AM

Nice box Mike even better is that it is still treasured by your son

I think it is nice piece of carving as well.


-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4615 days

#11 posted 05-05-2011 12:21 PM

Yes John, it was kiln dried Birch. It has yellowed quite a bit over the years. It’s finished with Danish oil.

Thanks for the kind remarks one and all. I don’t have any illusions about my carving abilities. All carvers know that you have to carve with the grain to get a smooth and controlled result. Easy said, but I don’t possess the gift of being able to visualize the correct grain orientation for any given cut.I still keep a diagram at hand to remind me of correct cut directions.

I’ve been practicing my chip carving on the terrace during rest breaks from the garden of Eden. I’ve been at it for a couple of weeks now, first with some pine (not quarter cut) which got me started, and now with some juniper which really cuts nice with very sharp details and really smooth surfaces.

The quality of my carving has risen dramatically since I started practicing, so it is worth the time to keep at it. I will never come anywhere near the kind of work Marty (Chip) does, but it’s still enjoyable and I’m satisfied with the progress. The only problem is that I have arthritis and my hand hurts a lot from the work. It’s worth the pain, except for some birch I carved a couple of practice ornaments on, and even though they came out fairly well, I’m going to stick to softer wood in the future. Here is a photo of what I’ve been up to. They are far from good, but remember, it’s the journey that’s the fun part!

The largest piece is the birch I was talking about. Birch takes a cut very well and gives a smooth surface, but it is not easy to chip carve due to it’s density and elasticity. Sculpted carvings (Acanthus style for example) cut somewhat easier as only thin shavings are being removed at a time, but of course they are much more challenging otherwise.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View mafe's profile


13403 posts in 4370 days

#12 posted 05-05-2011 02:29 PM

Wauuu Mike,
I love it – your first box… You are!
Since I have a soft spot for dragons this is a natural born favorite for me.
I love the detail on the lock.
The garden now! Flowers, tullips, the apple tree all pink, my early clematis and the beech ar slowly opening it’s leafs. You have to be there!
Do not worry enjoy that time in the garden, you are in my heart so to see you on LJ is just luxury.
Best of my thoughts to you and yours,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4275 posts in 4446 days

#13 posted 05-05-2011 04:30 PM

Fine first effort, and no reason to be humble about it. I hope to do some carving, but I think I will have to use mainly motorized tools due to the wrist and hand issues, kinda like you alluded to. Hopefully I will run a couple of circuits here in the garage today in La Conner, then I will be ready for bigger power tools if they ever happen….......

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4615 days

#14 posted 05-05-2011 07:24 PM

I enjoy looking at the garden and sitting in it Mads, it’s working in it that I’m no longer so fond of! Anyway, it sounds like you are enjoying yours and I’m glad for you. It’s good to be outdoors to enjoy our short Scandinavian summer.

Hi Jim. They’ve got some nice motorized tools now that also suck up the dust for you at the same time, so not a bad idea. It’s just that power tools are too fast for me. I can ruin so much so fast with a power tool, so I’m sticking to hand tools so I can correct my small mistakes or change the design to accommodate larger ones. Actually though I really love the serenity of working quietly and slow. That said, I don’t get much done!

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View mafe's profile


13403 posts in 4370 days

#15 posted 05-06-2011 01:11 AM

I smile.

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

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